To examine the Canadian pediatric rheumatology workforce and care processes.
Pediatric rheumatologists and allied health professionals (AHPs) participated. A designee from each academic center provided workforce information including the number of providers, total and breakdown of full-time equivalents (FTEs), and triage processes. We calculated the clinical FTE (cFTE) available per 75,000 (recommended benchmark) and 300,000 (adjusted) children using 2019 census data. The national workforce deficit was calculated as the difference between current and expected cFTEs. Remaining respondents were asked about ambulatory practices.
The response rate of survey A (workforce information) and survey B (ambulatory practice information) was 100% and 54%, respectively. The majority of rheumatologists (91%) practiced in academic centers. The median number of rheumatologists per center was 3 (IQR 3) and median cFTE was 1.9 (IQR 1.5). The median cFTE per 75,000 was 0.2 (IQR 0.3), with a national deficit of 80 cFTEs. With the adjusted benchmark, there was no national deficit, but there was a regional maldistribution of rheumatologists. All centers engaged in multidisciplinary practices with a median of 4 different AHPs, although the median FTE for AHPs was ≤ 1. Most centers (87%) utilized a centralized triage process. Of 9 (60%) centers that used an electronic triage process, 6 were able to calculate wait times. Most clinicians integrated quality improvement practices, such as previsit planning (67%), postvisit planning (68%), and periodic health outcome monitoring (36–59%).
This study confirms a national deficit at the current recommended benchmark. Most rheumatologists work in multidisciplinary teams, but AHP support may be inadequate.