02/20/2014 04:37 EST | Updated 04/22/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C.'s doctors paid billions with little oversight

B.C.'s auditor general Russ Jones says the government has no way of knowing whether it's getting the best value for the $3.6 billion it pays to doctors annually, an amount roughly equal to nine per cent of the entire provincial budget.

Jones says despite the billions it is spending, the government has no way of knowing whether it's getting high quality service or whether those services offer the best value to the taxpayer.

His audit finds that the way in which physicians are paid may not be linked to the best patient outcomes. For instance, he says, fees for services that significantly improve a patient's quality of life are not necessarily higher than fees that do not.

Jones says physicians are important, yet their performances are not consistently evaluated. He says the government does not have a proper system for assessing or managing physicians, nor can it demonstrate that current compensation levels are cost-effective.

"To make informed choices with limited health care dollars, government needs to know whether the services provided by physicians offer the best value and highest quality for the money spent," said Jones.

The report contains six recommendations to improve government oversight. They include clarifying the roles and accountability of those involved with physician services and rebuilding the physician compensation model so it aligns with the delivery of cost-effective, high quality services to patients.

Jones says government has previously been made aware of the issues he raises in the report, but has been slow to fix them. He says a "significant" amount of work remains to be done.

Video: Auditor General's report