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Physician Data Elements

The following describes in brief how OPRC creates and renews annually the major data elements used to prepare Physicians in Ontario (PIO) Annual Reports.

Expandable List

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

Each physician included in the Active 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:

Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)

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


  1. For RCPSC-certified physicians:
    1. Physicians who inform surveyors that they are primarily practicing Family Medicine are assigned to Family Medicine.
    2. Physicians who inform surveyors 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 report predominantly practicing orthopedic surgery and would be included in orthopedic surgery if the information is verified by other sources.
  2. For CFPC-certified physicians:
    1. Physicians who inform surveyors that their main practice activity is in an RCPSC-certified field are reported in their CFPC-certified specialty for the annual PIO report.

Practice location is derived from the following data sources: OPRC Physician Survey, CPSO, Scott’s Medical Database, previous Active Physician Registries, and OHIP. OPRC creates and maintains a database of these physician practice locations including street address and postal code as well as geographic coordinates based on the digital Ontario street network file.

Note: Starting in 2009, census geography (CD/CSD) and LHINs/OH Regions are updated annually based on postal code linkages using the most recent postal code conversion file provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health. These linkages change over time, which means that while there would be no change in the overall number of physicians in the province, the counts per region (CD/CSD, LHINs/OH Regions) for historical data may change. Data prior to 2009 maintain their historical postal code linkages.

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

  • Report year – DOB year = age

Gender is based on data provided by CPSO and no specific distinction is made between sex and gender identity. Starting in 2021, an ‘Other’ category (which combines both non-binary and unknown gender categories) is provided in addition to ‘Male’ and ‘Female’.

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

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 Additions and Attritions tables in the PIO annual report 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 CPSO and OHIP records.
  • Postgraduate training activity is determined from the Ontario Postgraduate Medical Trainee Registry maintained by the OPRC.
  • Practice location, age and retirement information is obtained from a variety of sources, but most emphasis is now placed on results of the OPRC’s ongoing dynamic survey, described in the Physician Survey.
  • 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.