Report 2013: Health care renewal in Canada
We are nine years into the federal, provincial and territorial governments’ ten year First Minister’s Accord on Health Care Renewal. As a reminder to all of us the goal of the Accord is for all Canadians to have access to the health care they need, regardless of where they live and what they can afford. So how are we doing?
On May 23rd the Health Council of Canada Progress Report 2013: Health care renewal in Canada report highlighted our progress in five key areas: wait times, primary health care and electronic health records, pharmaceuticals management, disease prevention/health promotion and Aboriginal health.
The report acknowledges reform is happening and progress is being made. But we are not keeping pace with the changing needs of health care in Canada.
Medical Confidence has been helping individuals navigate health care in Canada since 2009. In the beginning we saw progress in treatment wait times, however in more recent years we saw a stall in progress. Health Council of Canada confirmed our observations in its report. They noted a possible cause could be the increased number of priority surgical procedures, an increase of approximately 21,000 in 2012.
But what about wait times between a referral from your family physician to a specialist, and diagnostic testing. Other than one study What Are Wait Times to See a Specialist,(http://www.longwoods.com/content/23004) assessed EMR data from 23 family physicians across southwestern Ontario, citing an average median wait of 53 days, no one has tracked this part of the patient experience. At Medical Confidence our Patient Advocates work with patients and their family physicians to find the right doctor and help them receive the first available appointment. On the extreme end of this, we’ve had patients come to us because they were waiting up to one year to see a specialist. Health Council of Canada suggests we broaden our definition of wait times. We couldn’t agree more.
But with the most recent federal budget announcing it will wind down its funding support of the Health Council of Canada. According to the Federal government, with the end of the Accord in 2014, the Health Council of Canada will have completed its primary mandate. I agree the ten year period for their mandate may be complete; but there is still much work to be done before the First Ministers can say they achieved their goal for health care in Canada.