Improving the quality of health care in Canada

Canadians are healthier than we were years ago, and healthier, on average, than many other nationalities. Regardless, there are still some gaps and issues within the health care industry. The gaps lie in the high-quality care that people deserve and the unpredictable healthcare that Canadians actually receive. Part of this includes the limited services that are available.

For more insight on the matter, we checked in with healthcare professionals across Canada, including dentist Dr. Kooner, DMD, who had good insight into where the gaps are and what can be done to improve the quality of healthcare in Canada.

What is High-Quality Healthcare?

Canada definitely has a better system of healthcare than other nations, but there is room for improvement. To begin with, let’s look at what high-quality healthcare means in reality.

Quality healthcare needs to be timely, which means that patients are treated quickly, triaged based on the severity of the need. The healthcare should also be safe, so all medical professionals have been appropriately trained in their area.

Healthcare also must be equitable. There are many implicit biases across Canada, which can result in women and minorities not receiving the same level of care as their male counterparts are. This is an issue that really only recently has become more known and needs to be addressed.

Where can we improve?

There are many different ways that Canada’s healthcare system can be improved, including providing better services, from oral health to physical therapy. A patient’s experience is not limited to their interaction with the doctor, but with everyone involved in the experience, from a receptionist making an appointment, to a nurse taking your vitals.

We can improve the quality of healthcare in Canada through policy. Looking at the government from every angle, including federal government, provincial and territorial government, clinicians, and even the patients themselves, can help work on the policies that need to be expanded or altered to meet our needs.

Better Communication

It is common among healthcare facilities around Canada to lack a continuation of care communique. The benefits of having what are referred to as “open notes” available can help patients immensely. Open notes means that a patient’s healthcare record can be marked, read, or even edited by other professionals with access to them. The concept has been criticized as an invasion of privacy, but the pros to the idea are immense.

If a patient’s entire medical team can easily look at the patients’ medical history all in the same chart, then the continuation of care will be smooth, giving a patient a better healthcare experience and improve the quality of care. This can also allow a patient the ability to easily review their own chart, asking the questions that they may have had or even clarifying what was said in an appointment.

Public Funding

Another area that should be examined in the healthcare industry is the public funding for healthcare. The funding needs to be expanded to help pay for the more expensive procedures and catch the types of healthcare that are currently underfunded and ignored.

Under the Canada Health Act, there is a legal foundation to pay for the things they consider medically necessary. Unfortunately whether something is necessary is debatable on all fronts. Some of the safer services out there are not considered necessary, even if it would be a less expensive and better option.

It has been shown that if patients have to pay a large sum out of pocket, they are less likely to be willing to have a procedure performed. One example of this is psychology. While therapy is a necessary medical treatment for people suffering from any kind of mental health issue, it is not covered by the Canada Health Act. People will avoid seeking treatment, knowing already they would have to pay out of pocket for it.

Some Canadians believe that we should eliminate the public funding for treatments that they deem ineffective, if there are not added resources to the funds. Unfortunately, whether a treatment is necessary really depends on the patient and their individual needs.

What Individuals can do

Beyond pushing your representatives to alter the policies that are affecting healthcare in Canada, there is one major thing that all individuals can do. It is to invest in primary care.

Staying with your routine visits, going in for physicals, and even simply just making good choices that keep you healthy can prevent future issues from developing. Even if you take good care of yourself, annual wellness checks can screen you for any problems that we do not know yet, providing you with preventative care.

Take care of yourself. That is the best thing that you can do to help the Canada’s healthcare system and improve your quality of life.