Canada wondering how to make treatment in hospitals better

Ottawa –

In medicine, doctors first try to understand a person’s health before treating his illness.

They collect information about your symptoms, perform tests and blood tests, and gather as much detail as possible.

That way, you’ll know if the medicine worked.

This is called establishing a baseline, and policy experts do the same to see if the latest strategies actually solve the problem.

When it comes to rebuilding Canada’s deteriorating healthcare system, governments often fail to set baselines, says Hygen Mou, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s Johnson-Shoyama School. He said it was difficult to know if there were any. public policy.

She set up a research project to investigate whether past health care agreements between federal and provincial governments made a big difference in the quality and availability of health care in Canada, but soon ran into problems. bottom.

“What I’m trying to figure out is whether we can find comparable data to make meaningful assessments of the impact of these health pacts,” Mu said.

“For now, the answer is no.”

Successive federal governments have tried over the years to measure the impact of funding into state and territory health care systems by requiring reporting on specific metrics. Mu said health data collection has improved incrementally over the years with each new contract.

Now, the government is trying to paint a picture of the system by overhauling how Canada collects and shares health data.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has proposed $46 billion in new spending to states and territories over the next decade to address the health crisis unleashed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, states must develop measurable goals they want to achieve with the money and agree to agreements that harmonize and make access to health data across the country.

All provinces, except Quebec, have formally accepted the agreement in principle, and in March the deputy health ministers of all provinces and territories except Quebec endorsed new plans to bring the agreement to fruition.

Mu said the initiative began under former Prime Minister Paul Martin.

“From a historical perspective, I think the 2004 health deal was a pretty good deal,” Mu said of the $41 billion deal signed between Martin and the state.

At the time, the deal was touted as a “one-generation solution” that would dramatically change the healthcare system.

Although that transformation has not been achieved, Mu said that particular attention has been paid to measuring success, and that is starting to pay off.

“It was the beginning of change.”

The 2004 agreement included the establishment of the now-defunct Health Council of Canada, which was tasked with monitoring and reporting on each province’s progress on the commitments made in the agreement.

Stephen Harper has been able to measure some improvement in waiting times for certain procedures, at least in the short term, since the creation of the $612 million Waiting Time Guarantee Program in 2007. rice field.

Prime Minister Trudeau also sought to gauge the impact of the one-to-one funding agreements he signed with states in 2017 to improve home health care and mental health services. States again agreed to provide information on progress in specific areas, such as wait times for community mental health counseling.

But Mu noticed that no one had taken a snapshot of where he started measuring how far he had gotten.

And the resulting data were incomplete and in some cases non-existent.

It’s not that there is no information at all.

Statistics Canada, Health Canada, and the Canadian Institute of Health Information all regularly collect and report on how Canada’s healthcare system is performing.

However, with 13 health systems operating independently, it is difficult to compare information.

Now, rather than trying to get information on specific metrics, the federal government wants each state to make all the data more accessible.

“Many years ago, we were able to I’ve been trying to make it happen,” he said.

Canada Health Infoway has developed federal and state plans to make personal health records and information more accessible to patients and clinicians. This allows us to use this information to measure the health of populations and systems as a whole.

“We are now starting to distinguish between clinical and secondary use data,” he said.

“I think data is data.”

The group hopes that easier access to patient information and medical data will save the healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars and doctors millions of hours.

Although the plan is 10 years old, it is still in its early stages, with some states ahead of others when it comes to technology upgrades.

The cost of the project has not yet been determined.

Kim McGreil, a professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health, said it would be good to see a plan that looks beyond the next election cycle.

She served as the government’s expert advisor on health data strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a long-term investment and a change,” McGrail said. “It will take a considerable amount of time between the adoption of these standards and their actual implementation.”

It will take more than a decade for a similar effort in the United States, he said, and the healthcare system will have to continually adapt as technology changes.

If it works, politicians should have a better sense of whether the deals they struck actually worked. And, perhaps more importantly, it helps patients better understand their own health standards.

This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on July 13, 2023.

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