NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 19, 2009

Canada's health care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.  Patients are getting less than optimal care and physicians from across the country recognize that changes must be made, says Dr. Anne Doig, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

According to Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, there's a critical need to make Canada's health care system patient-centered.  His thoughts on the issue are already clear, says the Canadian Press:

  • Ouellet has been saying that "a health-care revolution has passed us by," that it's possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and "that competition should be welcomed, not feared."
  • In other words, Ouellet believes there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system.
  • He has also said the Canadian system could be restructured to focus on patients if hospitals and other health-care institutions received funding based on the patients they treat, instead of an annual, lump-sum budget;  this "activity-based funding" would be an incentive to provide more efficient care, he has said.

According to Doig:

  • A short-term achievable goal would be to accelerate the process of getting electronic medical records into physicians' offices.  
  • A long term goal would be getting health systems talking to each other, so information can be quickly shared to patients.

However, this is not about choosing between an American system or a Canadian system.  There are some good things about Canada's current system, but if it keeps on going without change, it will not be sustainable, says Doig.

Source: Jennifer Graham, "Overhauling health care system tops agenda at annual meeting of Canada's doctors," Canadian Press, August 16, 2009.


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