Is Canada’s oft-praised healthcare system really the best in the world?
This generally accepted notion, perpetuated perhaps as often by politicians south of our border as it is here at home, has come under fire in a new report by the Conference Board of Canada.
The paper, called “The Inconvenient Truths About Canadian Health Care”, follows the Conference Board’s recent “Summit on Sustainable Health and Health Care” which took place October 30th and 31st in downtown Toronto.
Publication co-author and Conference Board of Canada CEO Daniel Muzyka, said the findings were a wake up call.
“The evidence is strongly mounting that we are incorrect in believing that we have the best health care system in the world from the perspective of relative effectiveness and efficiency of the services provided,” he said. “A number of issues clearly articulated and shared during the Summit, fueled by an aging population and internal cost pressures, make it clear that we have to face some ‘inconvenient truths’ when it comes to health care.”
The Conference Board of Canada says that it has only awarded Canada’s healthcare system a “B” and recently ranking it 10th out of 17 countries in its 2012 “How Canada Performs” report card. Canada ranks behind countries such as France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Japan topped the list.
The report has five suggestions for improving Canada’s score, including making primary care – not the emergency room – the first contact with the health care system, focusing more on prevention, and changing compensation systems and labour contracts.
A persistent theme of the study is technology. The Conference Board’s findings suggest that Canada’s healthcare system is “locked into a model from the 1960’s” and is “…one of the last outposts of slips of paper and fax machines.” The report says Canada should invest in technology, particularly in the areas of information and communications, to allow patient information to flow seamlessly. This will boost the overall productivity of the system and result in fewer errors, it says.