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Patient Compass

In this issue: February 2018

Our quarterly magazine contains important updates on policies, topics of interest, as well as a summary of recent disciplinary findings.
Read the latest issue here.

Billing and Block Fees

When your doctor charges a fee for uninsured services

The College recently released a revised policy on uninsured services that will make it easier for patients to understand the rules when physicians bill you for services not covered by OHIP.

Uninsured services include items such as sick notes for work, the copy and transfer of medical records, medical advice over the phone, and the completion of insurance and/or medical forms. In Ontario, physicians are allowed to bill patients for these types of services, however, over the years, we have heard concerns from patients about how much physicians charge for these services. We’ve also heard from patients that they do not understand what services they are being billed for.

The revised policy makes it clear that:

  • Physicians cannot charge you in exchange for faster access to care.
  • Fees for uninsured services must be reasonable and your doctor must consider your ability to pay.
  • You can pay for uninsured services individually, as they are provided.
  • If your doctor offers a block fee (i.e., a flat fee that covers a set of uninsured services) the term cannot be shorter than three months or longer than one year. Your doctor must also offer the block fee in writing, list the specific services it covers and give you the option to choose between a block fee and paying for individual services as they are used.
  • Your doctor can charge a reasonable fee for missed or cancelled appointments, but they must have a system in place that allows you to cancel appointments and patients must be informed of the cancellation policy.  

Our Uninsured Services Patient Information Sheet has more details about your rights and what you can expect when your doctor charges for uninsured services. If you have any more questions, please email or call our Patient Advisory Service at 1-800-268-7096.

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Helping You Get the Best Care 


New communications video for docs

The College recently produced a short video for doctors that discusses the importance of strengthening their communication skills and offers tips on how to do so. Good communication is integral to any good relationship and it is particularly important between doctor and patient to help ensure you receive excellent care.

Patients may also find this video useful to understand our expectations of physicians when talking to you about your health care concerns.

How you can help make doctor visits productive

We created the communication video because, as the physician regulator, we want to make sure we give doctors the information and guidance they need to provide excellent care. As a patient, you also have a part to play in helping physicians deliver a high level of care. Here are a few things you can do to make your medical appointments productive for both you and your doctor:

  1. Get organized. Before your appointment, think about the questions you have so you don’t leave the most important question to the end of the appointment. If this is your first appointment with a new doctor, be prepared to answer questions about your current health and your health history as well as relevant family health history.
  2. Be open about health concerns and goals. That way, your doctor can offer the most appropriate help. With a good understanding of your concerns, your doctor can encourage you to ask questions, explain things clearly, get consent and deliver a consistent and high standard of care.
  3. Follow-up as needed. That can mean seeing another health care professional, following a recommended course of action, learning more about your health issue and care, or keeping your doctor informed.

What to expect during your medical examinations

The CPSO brochure, What to Expect During Medical Encounters, summarizes your doctor’s responsibilities when treating you. It includes links to relevant CPSO policies and documents and identifies what you are entitled to as a patient so that you can have a good understanding of what to expect during medical encounters and take an active role in your health care.

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Patient Notebook

Can my family doctor refuse to refer me to a specialist?

Family physicians treat patients for medical conditions for which they have knowledge and expertise. When your doctor feels that your condition falls outside of their expertise, they will refer you to a specialist for further treatment. It is important to remember that your doctor should only make referrals when he or she believes that it is medically appropriate and necessary to do so. If they are not willing to provide you with a referral, talk to them to get a better understanding of why the referral was refused. If you’re still not satisfied, then consider seeking a second opinion.

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Patient Resources


New website features – Focus on what you want to know

Have you looked at our website lately? We are very excited to have updated it to make it easier to find what you need to know about Ontario’s physicians. The website updates include a brand-new tab, called Public Information & Services, which highlights links to “Find a Doctor” and “Make a Complaint,” as well as to information about our regulated clinics inspection program. Our redesigned homepage also has easy-to-use icons that point to these areas, as well as to our public consultation section and discipline hearings schedule.

Our goal in making these changes is to have a website that truly serves patient and public needs. We want to ensure that we provide the information that will help inform your health care decisions. You may be especially interested in the changes to the Find a Doctor pages which now use more specific search categories to help you find the names of particular doctors, and we clearly highlight any issues of concern (such as discipline and investigation outcomes, or practice restrictions) on each physician’s individual profile.

New Patient Information Video

The Federation of Ontario Health Regulators has posted a new video that describes the role of Ontario’s health regulatory boards and how they can help the public find information about all 26 regulated health professionals. Watch it at

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We want to talk to you!

Invite us to your next community meeting

Do you have questions about the College and the work we do to protect the public and regulate physicians? Consider inviting a College speaker to your next meeting.

If you belong to a community group or organization that is interested in having a presentation from the College, we would like to hear from you.

Our speakers bring a wealth of knowledge on a range of issues concerning medical regulation and health care. We will deliver an interesting session on our policies and resources to help you make informed health care choices, as well as understand the College’s role in ensuring Ontario has quality medical professionals and a health care system we can all trust and rely on.

Some of the topics we have covered recently at community meetings include:

  • Who Regulates Your Doctor? (A general overview of the CPSO)
  • Planning for and Providing Quality End of Life Care
  • Doctors Accepting New Patients into their Practice

Contact us to discuss having a member of our team speak at your next event or meeting.

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We want to hear from you!

The College relies on feedback from the public, as well as the profession, to formulate policy. Please take a few moments to comment on our open consultations.
View our active consultations.
Learn more about the College’s consultation process here.
Join our mailing list and receive notification of all future policy consultations.

For general inquiries or to make a complaint, contact our Public Advisory Service:
Toll Free: 1-800-268-7096 Ext. 603
Copyright © 2018 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, All rights reserved.

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