November 28, 2012 by Speakers' Spotlight

Chronic Condition: Insights into an Ailing Health Care System

This morning we welcomed Jeffrey Simpson to our office.  He dropped by to tell us about his new book Chronic Condition: Why Canada’s Health Care System Needs to Be Dragged Into the 21st Century.  His discussion was informative and it’s clear that the timing is right for his message.

For those who don’t work in the healthcare industry directly, Jeffrey’s book and presentation shed light on what can seem like a gargantuan paradox that plagues one of the cornerstones of Canadian society―that we seem to be paying increasingly more for healthcare, and yet the quality of care seems to be declining. Jeffrey notes that these observations are objectively true.

One of the challenges he mentioned is that Canadians are so protective of (and defined by) our healthcare system, yet simultaneously so fearful that we’ll end up with US-style health care, that it’s difficult to take step back and look at changes that need to be made.

In comparison to other industrialized wealthy nations, we simply aren’t getting the “bang” for our health care buck. While we are fifth in health care spending internationally, our ranking in every category (like wait times, use of technology, etc.) is middle of the road at best.  And in many senses, Jeffrey notes that our health care system already is like that of the US. Outside of doctor visits and visits to the hospital, we are expected to pay for everything―our drugs are the most expensive in the world.

Jeffrey notes that we need to look for solutions that improve quality of care, reduce wait times, and cost less. There are some countries, like Sweden, that have a public health care system and that have implemented creative solutions to their health care challenges, and we need to start doing the same.  For example, they allow private clinics that are paid for by the state where patients can go for routine surgical procedures, thereby freeing up space in hospitals.

One of the main roadblocks to change is the fact that politicians simply cannot stand up for a major reform of the health care system without it costing them political capital. Jeffrey notes that because of this, it will be up to civic society to demand a better system that costs less.

Jeffrey is available to discuss this topic, and other matters pertaining to the national and international political climate, and we’d be happy to provide you with more information if he is of interest to your group.