Eric Girard, Quebec’s Minister of Finance, tabled a budget a couple of weeks ago. It included hundreds of millions in spending on healthcare this fiscal year and billions over the next five years. There was nothing either spectacular or convincing enough to make headlines. Just the usual suspects: maintaining existing infrastructure and building new structures for the elderly, increasing nurses and administrative staff, ending the “abusive imposition of (nursing) overtime.”
Not to be outdone, Health Minister Christian Dubé just released his roadmap to future Quebec healthcare — “More Human, More Efficient” — suggesting that by 2025 the entire system would be revamped.
The most stunning observation about Dubé’s document is that for the first time ever it acknowledges what private sector analysts have been saying for years: the system is broken. It needs to be totally re-created.
Among the suggestions put forth by Dubé:
• Small community clinics with more local autonomy, not a one-size-fits all centrally controlled system
• Teams of health professionals focused on patient needs, not doctors as the only point of entry into the system
• Payment for service to each patient, not payment for each service
• More focus on illness prevention, not a system that kicks in only after you’re sick
• Home care so people can stay at home or in their community
• Use of 21st century technology so that electronic systems can talk to each other, not thousands of ancient technologies (like fax machines) that cannot
• Every person to have access to their own health records
Can it be done? Yes, with enough dedication, citizen buy-in and dollars.
Dedication: There will be an election in the fall and the present government may become the previous government. Will future governments carry out the re-creation of the system? Opposition parties are already doing what they always do – opposing. For example, the Liberal Party harkens back to the CAQ’s 2018 promise that every Quebecer will have a family doctor.
The fact is that 75-80 per cent of all issues that make people go to the ER or ask for a doctor appointment can be resolved by a different kind of healthcare professional. The fact is that the whole notion of curing disease and keeping populations healthy has undergone constant, significant and accelerating change over the past 100 years thanks to scientific discoveries, progress in hygiene and technology. Time to acknowledge that doctors aren’t the only people who know how to help people get better. They have never been the experts to keep us healthy.
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