Physician Data Elements

The following describes in brief how OPHRDC creates, and renews annually, the major data elements used to prepare Physicians in Ontario reports.

PHYSICIAN SPECIALTY

Each physician has one or more certified specialty (specialty in which they are certified by the RCPSC or CFPC) and one or more functional specialty (specialty in which they currently practice).  In many cases, certified and functional specialty are the same.  As much as possible, OPHRDC reports functional specialty.

Each physician included in the Physician Registry is first assigned to their certified specialty based on the most recent certification recorded by CPSO.  This could be either a (sub)specialty of RCPSC certification or a Family Medicine certification.

This assignment is then compared to other sources which may provide evidence that the physician’s functional specialty is different than the assigned certified specialty.  If this is the case, the assigned certified specialty is replaced with the functional specialty.  These other sources include:

OHIP:

  • Physicians shown to be billing OHIP in “general practice” are classified as Family Medicine/General Practice.

OPHRDC Physician Survey:

    • RCPSC specialty certified physician who inform surveyors that they are practicing Family Medicine are assigned to that specialty.
    • Physicians who inform interviewers that they are practicing specialties in which they are not certified are listed in those specialties. For example, a physician certified in general surgery may predominantly practice in orthopedic surgery and may be included under that specialty if the information is verified by other sources.
    • OPHRDC does not include CFPC certified physicians in medical specialist data if they report such activity. If the main practice activity of a CFPC certified physician is in an RCPSC certified field, they are reported in their CFPC specialty for the main PIO report.

LOCATION OF PRIMARY PRACTICE
Practice location is derived from the CPSO, SMDB and the OPHRDC dynamic survey. Over its history OPHRDC has found that postal codes of physician practices may not be accurate markers of physical location, particularly in rural areas. OPHRDC created and maintains a database of physician practice locations based on actual street address collected as part of the dynamic survey and geographic coordinates based on the digital Ontario street network file.

PHYSICIAN AGE

OPHRDC compares birth date data from several sources. Ages are then calculated in the following way:

      • Report year – DOB year = age

PHYSICIAN GENDER

Gender is verified by comparison of multiple sources. Data is reported as provided by those sources, and no specific distinction is made between sex and gender identity. Where the specified gender is other than male or female, this data point is not included in aggregate reporting as the small number of cases could potentially identify a particular physician.

POPULATION DATA

Population estimates are based on Statistics Canada census data as used by the Ontario Ministry of Finance, obtained from the Ministry of Health.

ADDITIONS AND ATTRITIONS DATA

Tables in the additions and attritions reports are prepared by comparing the records of individual physicians appearing in the current year and previous year’s Active Physician Registries. Physicians added to the current dataset are those described as “additions” and physicians removed from the previous year’s dataset are those described as “attritions”.
Physician records are examined in detail to determine the reason for their inclusion in or exclusion from the current Registry.

It is important to note that a physician may have been added or removed for more than one reason. These reasons are listed in the tables from left to right in the order of priority used. Physicians are reported only once using the highest priority for the reports.

Sources for information used in these tables include the following:

    • Licensing and activity status information is obtained from CPSO and OHIP records.
    • Postgraduate training activity is determined from the Ontario Postgraduate Medical Trainee Registry maintained by the OPHRDC.
    • Practice location, age and retirement information is obtained from a variety of sources, but most emphasis is now placed on results of the OPHRDC’s ongoing dynamic survey, described in The Dynamic Physician Interview.
    • Practice location for Ontario licenced physicians in other provinces or overseas is obtained from the Scott’s Medical Database, the American Medical Association database and web searches of a variety of sources.