The complexity of ageing arises because, as we age, we are more likely to have more than one illness and to take more than one medication. And as we age, the illnesses that we have are more likely to restrict how we live -- not just outright disability, but in our moving more slowly, or taking care in where we walk, or what we wear or where we go.
Across Canada, the tragic spike in opioid-related deaths has brought to national attention the large and complex issue of drug use and misuse. As fentanyl-related overdoses are gripping the country, there is a connected, but separate crisis of doctor-prescribed opioids being increasingly used on a regular, long-term basis.
Not many patients would be happy to hear that there's a lag of about 17 years between when health scientists learn something of significance through rigorous research and when health practitioners change their patient care as a result, but that's what a now-famous study from the Institute of Medicine uncovered in 2001.
December 21, 2016 marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Ontario Fertility Program. Designed to improve access to assisted reproduction technologies for the one in six Ontarians living with infertility, the program contributes to the medical costs required for procedures such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), fertility preservation (FP) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
For Christmas, all Ontario doctors asked for was a brief respite from the toxic relationship between them and the Ontario Government of Premier Kathleen Wynne. They realized it would be too much to ask for an acceptable Physician Services Agreement after three years without one, but a couple of weeks without internecine politicking would have been welcome this holiday season.
Ontario needs genuine health-system reform. Instead we get the Patients First Act. Doctors are hopping mad. So we are turning our backs on those who willfully ignore our warnings and our advice. They will now stand alone as their committees waste more time and taxpayer money on a sketchy health-care "transformation."
Why? Universal drug plans mean national bodies negotiate fairer prices for prescription drugs. The results are dramatic. So, while some critics claim that universal prescription drug insurance is a nice idea, but not affordable - it's very clear that universal prescription drug insurance is actually the key to affordability.
A Charter challenge is underway at the Supreme Court of B.C., championed by Dr. Brian Day, owner of the Cambie Surgical Centre. Day is arguing that the laws currently prohibiting doctors in Canada from practicing in the public and private health sectors simultaneously should be struck down, along with the prohibition on the extra billing of patients for services already covered by the provincial health plan.
The past two years have seen a significant deterioration in the relationship between Ontario's physicians, and the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne and her health minister, Eric Hoskins. Rather than just protest, Health City's plan is to bring awareness of the health care crisis to the general public, and also educate them as to what they can do to fight for proper health care services in Ontario.
It's been reported that Canada spends the fourth most per capita on health care of all of the industrialized countries in the world. Yet, despite all that money being spent, Canada's health-care system currently ranks 30th in the world, according to the World Health Organization and last amongst all OECD countries in terms of wait times.
Publicly-funded hospitals are not constituted "primarily for religious purposes." All Ontario hospitals, Catholic and others, exist to deliver medically necessary services, and all are funded by provinces for that purpose. All hospitals offer the aid and support of religious counsel to families that request it. All hospitals have quiet spaces for reflection and prayer.
As Eric Hoskins knows very well, infrastructure itself doesn't have much value. What has a lot of value is patient data. This type of data is a treasure trove for private businesses and would be worth a lot of money to them. Just look at how Facebook has been able to monetize the personal information it has stored on all its "friends."
Hundreds of codeine tablets stolen from the medicine cabinet of an elderly person living alone in a rural community. Hydromorphone tablets being distributed at weddings and high school parties. Fentanyl patches being cut up and sold for a profit on the street. This is the reality of the opioid crisis in Canada today.
We hope the failure of negotiations in Ontario spurs a complete rethink of this approach. Maybe what we want to do is limit a la carte billing for doctor services in the first place, and have far clearer contractual directives against cost-ineffective treatments and towards quality, safe and high-value care.
It was another tumultuous week in Ontario, as the province's seemingly never-ending battle with its physicians continued. The grand Hoskins scheme now seems to be to sow discord amongst physicians so they fight amongst themselves. He knows that if physicians unite against Bill 210, as they did against the tPSA, he will never be able to succeed in implementing his plans.