October 13, 2022

Notes from the Fall Symposium: Fixing Canadian Healthcare

From notes written by Annie-Kim Nguyen (University of Waterloo); Aaina Aggarwal (George Brown College); Diego Duran-Arteaga (George Brown College); Mia Trillanes (Alberta Health Services); Tiffany Oei (Public Health Ontario; Alana Esty (CHEO); Ahmad Haroon Syed (Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan); and Mobeen Lalani (University of Toronto)

The CHIEF Executive Forum Fall Symposium took place on Thursday, September 22, 2022. 65 digital health and healthcare delivery leaders gathered in Toronto to to collaborate, exchange best practices, and share their expertise in setting the agenda for the effective use of information and technology to improve health and healthcare in Canada.

The opening keynote from Dr. Bob Bell—Fixing Canadian Healthcare: Ten Ways to Make Treatment Faster, Better and More Cost Effective—touched in the following issues:

How to make health care system in Canada better, faster and cheaper?

We have no substantial data on how the Canadian healthcare system is doing, but we know from the data we do have that its performance is consistently low. The two main challenges we face: are access to care (especially primary care) and equity (including the lack of widespread pharmacare):

  • Recent data from Angus Reid suggest that 50% of Canadians cannot see their primary care provider within one week of contacting them or cannot find a family doctor or other primary care provider.
  • Relationship-based care depends on trust.
  • We have no real data on time it takes to be seen by a specialist, and surgical data only reflects patients who actually get surgery. How do we know how many are waiting, and for how long?
  • Pandemic brought many challenges, including human resources constraints

Essential factors to improve primary care access:

  • Move away from the idea that every Canadian needs a family doctor. In most cases, nurse practitioners are at least as good as primary practitioners. In a nurse practitioner with physician consultant model, everyone is working at full scope of practice.
  • To improve access to specialists and surgery, we need data to help find out exactly how many specialists are required—this is important information that drives human resources decisions-making.
  • eReferral has that advantage of referring people to the right professionals and reducing wait times. With paper, referrals, we have no idea how to track referral progress (did it go through? Is something going to happen?)
  • Community surgery centres offer an excellent opportunity to offer better access and patient flow
  • Establish widely available pharmacare for seniors
  • Offer virtual care to improve primary care
  • Explore the potential for specialty care with home monitoring

Download the complete 2022 Fall Symposium Program here, or contact chief@digitalhealthcanada.com for more information.