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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Economists' view of improving the Canadian Health Care system - reflective of a public health agenda

Economists and accountants are not the solution to the health care system, but what they have to say is worth listening to.  Not the beancounting bureaucratic accountants justifying current programming, but the broad thinkers that look at the industry from above the minutiae of professional protection, labour benefits and crisis management.   So when the Conference Board of Canada’s economists come out with a five point plan to fix the system, it is at least worth reading, and probably worth listening to.  

Five priorities for fixing the Canada health care system  is the result of a summit held late October in Toronto that sets out a logical and well thought through plan that focuses on doable and rationale approaches to health care reform. It is not new material or widely divergent from many other studies of the health care system, just this is coming from people who care about how our money is spent.

The plan, simply put:

1.       Build the “gateway” into the health system, primary health care
2.       Invest in information technology
3.       Link professional compensation to outcomes
4.       Manage elderly in the community
5.       Improve Canadian wellbeing

What is missing is the long list of where our major health care cash flows. No mention of high tech medical interventions, drug development, improved facility infrastructure, more surgeries, reduced waiting times, or more health care workers.  The focus is on what helps the patient not the professional.

Granted the details are missing on how to get there and what investments are most logical, but at least it is a vision that is solidly founded and perhaps might shape health system development going forward.  And in a country where investment and economy are currently the key decision drivers of the political machines, such statements from the Conference Board of Canada should be referred to and referenced as health policy is being shaped. That the statements for the most part reflect many of the ideals of public health for the last few decades is a refreshing vote of confidence.  

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