Since the release of a new report on July 17 by the Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation, a lot of media and members of the medical community have been weighing in. The panel, led by David Naylor, a physician and former president of the University of Toronto, stressed that “Canada has no shortage of innovative healthcare thinkers, world-class researchers, capable executives, or dynamic entrepreneurs who see opportunity in the health sphere.”
Yet, according to the report, innovation is stifled by the structure and administration of the health system, and a lack of leadership. According to The Globe and Mail, Medicare is, in fact, not a system at all; it’s a collection of 14 federal, provincial and territorial programs that are neither integrated nor coordinated. Worse yet, within those programs, there is a near total absence of vision and goals.
The report warned that “absent federal action and investment, and absent political resolve on the part of provinces and territories, Canada’s healthcare systems are headed for continued slow decline in performance relative to peers.”
So, the panel recommended creating a Health Innovation Fund with a $1-billion yearly budget to invest in changes to the healthcare system in conjunction with willing provinces and healthcare institutions. But, of course, just before a federal election in October, the Harper government would want to balance the budget rather than consider adding $1 billion a year to spending.
This was further exacerbated by the recent fiscal sustainability report released by the Parliamentary Budget Office. Confirming what we boomers and, of course, seniors most fear was the report’s warning that health spending won’t meet needs of aging Canadians. While the federal government has been saying that provinces should be increasingly responsible for healthcare delivery and sustainability, provincial Premiers, who met earlier this month, called on the federal government to provide more money for health.
But it’s not just a matter of more money. Our healthcare system needs a major overhaul! According to the Naylor report, it has to begin with leadership, and it should come from Ottawa. Andre Picard of The Globe and Mail nipped it in the bud today by pointing out what the real problem is: it’s not more money the healthcare system needs, it’s culture change – a shift from perpetual pilot projects to embracing best practices. He said, “For decades, we have produced reports about the need to transform healthcare delivery and funding while, simultaneously, clinging to the same old ways of doing things. It’s a fundamental disconnect between evidence and action. If you don’t take risks, you will never innovate.”
Healthcare is probably the number-one priority for all boomers. Any political party candidates who can and will show some guts to take risks and innovate; to drastically overhaul our healthcare system to meet its current and future needs; and to show that they have listened to the people’s concerns will get the boomers’ vote in the upcoming elections! And it is not likely to be the Conservative Party!