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CDM releases First Aid Kit for our health care system

Read our short papers below to find out what's in our First Aid Kit for Canada's health care system. 

1. Strategies to Reduce Wait Times

Why do doctors care?
As physicians, we want to ensure that our patients are getting timely access to care, based on their need and not their ability to pay. Our health care system is responsive to acute injuries and illnesses, but less so when it comes to elective surgeries - and many Canadians wait too long in our emergency departments or for a primary care appointment. While some provinces have made improvements in wait times in key priority areas since the Health Accords of 2003 and 2004, many are falling behind. There are successful domestic pilot projects that have shown us how we can do better, and often the key is not putting more money into the system, but using existing resources in more efficient ways. Read more

2. Rx: National Pharmacare

Why do doctors care?

As physicians, we confront the daily challenge of seeing patients who cannot afford the medications they need. We see the same patients coming back to us with the same problems in our offices and ERs, due to complications and worsening conditions that arise from not being able to take their medications. We often scramble to find samples to help our patients – a patchwork solution that doesn’t always work, and shouldn’t be necessary. We know firsthand the difference it would make to have patients who are able to afford their medications: frankly, we’d see a lot less of them - and that’s a good thing. Read more

3. Federal Leadership on Health Care Matters

Why do doctors care?
Canadians expect better from our federal government. We want to know that our health care system will be there for our patients, providing access to quality care based on need and not ability to pay, from coast to coast to coast. We cherish our health care system, but we also know that it needs real change. Abandoning leadership is not the way to make our health care system better, and it contradicts the values of Canadians.

Recent federal decisions to walk away from leadership on health care are having a real impact on our health care system. The federal government has abandoned a 2014 Health Accord – a renewal of the key initiative that drove transformation in our health care system and set national standards. Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program for refugees has put many health care providers in the impossible position of having to refuse care to sick people, or risk contravening federal regulations. And the dismantling of the Health Council of Canada is creating an information vacuum about how Canada is performing on key measures of our health care system. The federal government is also poised to reverse decades of safe practice by approving for-profit blood plasma clinics. Read more

4. A Shift in Care, Covered by Medicare

Why do doctors care?
As physicians, we want the most appropriate care for our patients. We adhere to the adage of the right care, at the right place and the right time, provided by the right professional. We’re not always the right professionals to provide care, and a hospital isn’t always the right place to deliver that care. With our aging population, integrating primary care with home and community-based care makes sense, and more and more frequently, people say that they would prefer to be cared for at home rather than in a hospital, particularly when approaching end of life. It’s a difficult shift to make, and it should be well-supported.

Governments engaged in shifting care from acute to community settings need to ensure that patients receive real access to quality care. Care should be based on need, not on ability to pay. All care must be supported by a reliable, qualified workforce. While shifting from acute to community care may, in theory, reduce overall system costs, we must be careful not to jeopardize high quality, accessible care for the sake of a cost-reduction experiment. We also need to ensure that we are not simply shifting caregiving out of institutions and onto family caregivers or putting unreasonable burdens on the lowest paid workers in the health care system. Read more

5. Making the Right Choices

Why do doctors care?
We need to make sure that as health professionals, we’re helping our patients make the best possible choices to improve their health. Prescriptions, procedures and tests that are the most effective, and are based on the best evidence, produce the best patient care and have the most value for money. Over the last 10 years, the biggest cost drivers in our health care system are utilization of drugs and diagnostics1 - with little evidence that we are any healthier as a result. In fact, overuse of medications and tests can result in unnecessary risks such as overexposure to radiation from testing, unnecessary, invasive follow-up procedures or problematic drug reactions, which can be avoided by appropriate care. Better choices can result in healthier citizens, and lower system costs. Read more