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."
The reason I care what my provincial government does is simple: health care in Ontario is in a downward spiral -- I see it everywhere, even in my small town family medicine practice. At this point, the government must step up and stabilize the situation. I've been in independent practice for seven years. In that short time, I have watched resources dwindle.
Many voting against the PSA argue that a fixed budget prevents physicians from providing necessary care to patients. No one is suggesting this. Patients who need care will be seen, necessary tests and surgeries will be done, family and specialist clinics will still see patients and physicians will continue to get paid to provide these services.
Merits and failings of the contract aside, many wonder about the aftermath of this vote. Ratify the contract and what -- ration care and pinch pennies? Reject the contract and what -- face a vengeful government's unilateral cuts? The uncertainty inherent in the contract is mirrored by the uncertainty of the unilateral actions that we have weathered for the past 18 months.
Ever since the Ontario Medical Association was mandated by the government to act as the bargaining agent for Ontario doctors, this profession has been subjected to undemocratic and disrespectful disregard by both the government and the OMA, which is supposed to be fighting for them from their corner, not fighting them in a courtroom.
Lets be honest. The tentative Physician Services Agreement negotiated between the OMA and the Ministry is not a good deal. Anyone with any experience in negotiation, law, or with any common sense can realize that this barely qualifies as a contract. But I'm voting yes, and I strongly encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Part of this strategy includes something that makes us all uncomfortable and would make any politician unpopular very quickly if they ever suggested it: patient, government and physician accountability. We all take responsibility for making our health care system sustainable. Seems simple in principle, but what would that really look like?
Dread and despair, uncertainty and panic ebb and flow around thoughts of my medical career. Most days clamour with stories of clinics closing, physicians leaving and patients dying on waitlists -- all flatly ignored by provincial leaders. Some days, I even want to quit. After only sx years of independent practice, I'm burning out.
We need health-care reform. To do that, we need an honest conversation between patients, government and front-line workers about what can be covered, what should be covered and what must be covered. We can't have it all. So we need to talk about what we all can have. To get there, doctors must be part of the conversation.
As Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, it is my responsibility to ensure that we have a health care system that delivers the best possible care for all patients. This means putting the needs of patients first and foremost with each and every decision I make. It means providing patients with faster access to care today, and building a sustainable system that will be there for patients and their families in the future.
Our health is shaped by where we live, grow, play and work. When you think about it, budgets are really a blueprint for our health. A good budget is one that provides opportunities for good health for all Ontarians, and this budget moves us in the right direction on postsecondary education and climate change.
In times of restraint like these, Health Minister Hoskins and Premier Wynne need to stop spending money on organizations like LHINs that have served no useful purpose for the general public in over 10 years of existence. The funds need to be re-dedicated to front-line health care so that we can address the growing needs of the populace.
One of the benchmarks that Ontario Minister of Health Eric Hoskins would like to study is patient satisfaction. There are various metrics that he's proposed, including ability to access family physicians within 48 hours, and of course how satisfied patients are with their care. This is all part of wanting health care to be more "patient centred." One would think that if you have a better health-care outcome, you're going to have more satisfied patients. Somewhat surprisingly, however, real world data around this very topic shows that the opposite, is in fact, true.
Aside from having healthy eyes and good vision, optometrists play a vital role in your overall health care. Most people don't know that as optometrists, we can identify other health conditions early such as diabetes, elevated cholesterol, MS and high blood pressure, which can often be first detected through an eye exam.
Wynne and Hoskins are simply referring to this as a "modest reduction" in physician income. People like myself, who warned that it's actually some of the targeted fee reductions that will cause more harm, were told we were fear mongering. Unfortunately, it appears that I was right, and the harm to the residents of Ontario is only beginning.