We actually know quite a lot about what makes Canadian health policy so effective. Population health approaches to improving social conditions, as well as public health prevention and health promotion measures taken across the country, have helped to reduce both chronic disease and acute illness. The Canadian portrait compares favourably to the American, but how does our healthcare investment compare to other developed nations in the study? Here, Canada falls short. Canada ranked 8th of 27 countries, while the US came in at 22nd.
In our quest for solutions to big health care challenges, we can sometimes overlook the low-hanging fruit -- i.e. the small, practical changes that can bring about substantial savings and better health outcomes. Case in point: the cost-savings opportunities in medication adherence through incentives, health IT and data applications.
Over the next three years, the Ontario government plans to begin partially funding hospitals based on the number of patients they treat and the quality of care they provide. It's an ambitious plan that could fall flat or set a new global benchmark. No country has yet managed to set a price on high-quality care.
Policy planners and health-policy experts can build their models and do their studies, but patients want high-quality service now, they want it free and they want it effective. They pay their taxes for a health-care system that is among the most expensive in the world. They are not getting enough value for money. Why not?
Last week, the family that owns Shouldice Hospital announced that it would like to sell its facility to Centric Health, a for-profit company. When it comes to providing complicated medical and surgical care that must be customized for each individual patient, non-profits are generally better. Selling medicare off, piece by piece, to large for-profit companies is the wrong approach.
Many Canadians have developed an insidious culture of self-satisfaction that comes with being told repetitively by politicians and media that we have "the best health care system in the world." We have somehow taken this patent lie as a slice of authentic Canadiana. It makes us feel good, safe and comfortable. But you don't have a "comprehensive and universal" system if it takes two years to get a hip replaced, or eight months to get an MRI after a hard knock to the head. How can we keep a straight face and call our system a caring and "universal" one if many have no where to go?