A new report from the Health Council of Canada, entitled “Better health, better care, better value for all,” indicates that a decade of health care reform in Canada has produced disappointing results.
The report finds that, with some exceptions, changes to our health care system have not kept pace with the evolving needs of Canadians. Progress on wait times for key procedures has stalled, and primary health care services lag behind other countries. Home care services are not meeting the needs of seniors, and prescription drug costs remain beyond the means of many Canadians, leading to skipped doses and 1 in 10 prescriptions going unfilled. While life expectancy in Canada has increased slightly, the number of Canadians with two or more chronic conditions has also increased.
Improving access to health care was a key focus of the First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal in 2003 and the First Ministers’ Meeting on the Future of Health Care in 2004, but 10 years later access to necessary health services still varies greatly by province and territory. Income, education, and cultural factors also impact access to care. For example, variable drug coverage leaves many low-income Canadians unable to acquire the drugs they need.
The Health Council of Canada has used the results of the report to present a way forward, based on an approach called the Triple Aim, first introduced by the US-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The Health Council’s approach focuses on setting balanced goals and actively supporting key enablers to achieve them, meaning that governments would agree to not only pursue “better health, better care, and better value,” but that they would place “equity” at the core of all future actions taken on health care. The report says the federal government must work with provincial and territorial leaders to ensure a level of equity in access to health care across Canada.
To view the full report visit http://healthcouncilcanada.ca/refocusinghealthcare.
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