A comparison of the Canadian health care system and customer support services: A retrospective case series analysis

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 57, No. 3, April 2015, Pages 102-103 MDs To Be

The Canadian health care system is frequently (and almost exclusively)[1] compared to its American big brother. Comparisons often draw on radical examples of our southern brethren remortgaging their houses or swimming to Cuba to afford basic medical coverage.[2] These sensationalist stories attempt to highlight the superiority of our socialist utopia to our neighbor’s litigation-heavy and insurance-restricted system. To date, however, no attempts have been published comparing the experience of entering and navigating our health care system to that of the customer service support offered by some of Canada’s well-known wireless communication companies: Telus, Bell, and Shaw.

Table 1 contains participant descriptive statistics, with data pooled to ensure confidentiality. Study participants were asked to recall various encounters, real or imaginary, with customer service support from Telus, Bell, or Shaw, and encounters (real or imaginary) with the health care system. To enhance accuracy of recollection, all participants were provided with 750 mL of fermented grape extract (2013 Jackson Triggs Merlot, Niagara Estate).

A comparison of typical encounters at various interaction points within the customer service or the health care system is shown in Table 2. Statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS version 20 for Mac. One-way ANOVA test resulted in [error code 1054: please enter n ≥ 1].

Detailed analysis of questionnaires revealed that user experience within the two systems was almost indistinguishable. Further investigation of this phenomenon was attempted using a Google search query of “things that are more the same than different.” This yielded 4.17 × 109 search results, of which none were carefully reviewed. Interpretation of results reveals the key interaction point that differentiates customer service and health care experience is inherent in the outcome, with participants either wishing they were with the other guys or being thankful that they are not with the other guys. The important discoveries in this study warrant further research in the growing field of comparing Canadian health care to random other things.

This work was supported by a Royal Bank of Canada student line of credit. Production of this manuscript would not be possible without the generosity of RBC’s 3% interest rate on a $250 000 loan, by which the author can continue to “work on her writing” while sitting in her pajamas and not contributing to keeping up the house.


1.    Simpson J. Chronic condition: Why Canada’s health care system needs to be dragged into the 21st century. Toronto, ON: Random House Canada; 2012.
2    Moore M. Sicko. [film] 2007.
3.    Tuttle B. You probably spent 13 hours on hold last year. Accessed 4 March 2015. http://business.time.com/2013/01/24/you-probably-spent-13-hours-on-hold-....
4.    Hardell L, Carlberg M, Söderqvist F, et al. Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumours. Int J Oncol 2008:32:1097-1103.
5.    Benchmarks for treatment and wait time in British Columbia. Wait Times. Accessed 4 March 2015. http://waittimes.cihi.ca/BC/knee.
6.    Gravel D, Taylor G, Ofner M, et al. Point prevalence survey for healthcare-associated infections within Canadian adult acute-care hospitals. J Hosp Infection 2007;66:243-248.
7.    Baker GR, Norton PG, Flintoft PG, et al. The Canadian Adverse Events Study: The incidence of adverse events among hospital patients in Canada. CMAJ 2004;170:1678-1686.
8.    Weekend admissions and in-hospital mortality. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Accessed 4 March 2015. www.cihi.ca/web/resource/en/weekendmortality_summary_en.pdf.


Ms Egri completed her BSc and MSc in biomedical physiology and is now a second-year medical student in the Vancouver Fraser program at UBC. She is interested in technology-enabled learning, sustainability in health care, and the integration of arts and humanities into medical education.

Csilla Egri, MSc,. A comparison of the Canadian health care system and customer support services: A retrospective case series analysis. BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 3, April, 2015, Page(s) 102-103 - MDs To Be.

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