Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Innovation, Not Just Money, Needed to Fix Health-Care System: Philpott

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Innovation, Not Just Money, Needed to Fix Health-Care System: Philpott

Article excerpt

Money alone won't fix health care: Philpott


VANCOUVER - Canada needs innovative solutions to improve home and primary health care so it can match other countries including Britain and Australia, which have overcome similar problems by spending less money, Health Minister Jane Philpott says.

It's a myth that Canada has the best health-care system in the world, she told the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association on Tuesday.

"We spend more per capita on health care than many other countries. What's worse is while we do this we get poorer outcomes for our patients."

Philpott, a former family doctor in Stouffville, Ont., said it's not the quality of health care that needs to be addressed, but the way in which it's delivered while the federal health-care budget has ballooned to historic highs.

Britain and Australia are spending less per capita and as a percentage of GDP because they have done a better job of co-ordinating care, Philpott said.

Ongoing talks about a new health agreement with the provinces and territories is an opportunity to set health care on a new course and to move "from the middle of the pack" compared to other countries, Philpott said.

"There is so much more that can be done to improve access to home care," Philpott said, adding $3 billion will be spent over the next few years to address the pressing need.

She said solutions can be found in encouraging better collaboration between family doctors and specialists, using digital technology to keep records and sharing information that patients can access, and giving greater priority to the social factors that affect health, particularly among aboriginal Canadians.

Philpott drew applause from association members Tuesday when she said social inequity is the biggest barrier to improving health care.

"The most perverse inequity is among aboriginal communities," she said.

"It's far past time for us to do something about this."

Canada's health-care infrastructure also needs to be modernized, allowing patients to access their health-care information on their phones, she said.

"We still use fax machines in doctors' offices and most Canadians can't go online to get any of their health information," she said, adding it's common for patients in the United States to get their test results through an app. …

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