By Peter Varga, RN, BScN, MHSc (health admin)
When it comes to healthcare spending, Canada has always made a strong commitment to our public healthcare system. Out of 38 OECD countries, Canada spends more on healthcare as a percentage of GDP than every other country except the United States. Canada’s federal government is even poised to further increase healthcare funding, following a recent proposal to add $46.2 billion in new spending over 10 years.
Yet despite this, Canada’s ranking in healthcare system performance falls behind most of the other high-income countries, according to a 2021 Commonwealth Fund report. The study considered five measures, including access to care, care processes, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare outcomes. While many Canadians take great pride in our healthcare system, there is room for improvements.
In the March edition of Healthcare Management Forum, we explore strategies healthcare leaders can pursue to close the gap between healthcare spending and healthcare performance. We also consider the future of healthcare in Canada, examining the role of digital solutions and partnerships with technology vendors in building greater capacity in our health systems.
Over the past few years, many clinicians have incorporated technology (such as virtual care platforms) into how they deliver care, and many patients have been using technology to access health services and exert greater control over their own care. While change had already been underway, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this transformation.
The pandemic created an urgent need to shift to new paradigms of care as health systems had to adapt quickly to rapidly changing circumstances. Adopting innovative solutions often has a transformational impact. New technologies can enable better communication, collaboration, and coordination, both within individual care settings and across the care continuum.
Against this background, we ask the question: how can healthcare leaders continue to capitalize on the momentum generated by the pandemic? Keeping in mind the key measures for healthcare system performance, we see a few opportunities for healthcare leaders to consider. These include:
- Supporting clinicians with the technology that best serves their day to day needs at the point of care, thereby optimizing care delivery.
- Assessing and addressing “technological debt,” which can impact an organization’s performance and efficiency.
- Moving to a population health approach that emphasizes wellness, disease prevention, early detection, and mitigation, while acknowledging equity to address populations who may not have the opportunity to utilize technology, and/or those who do not have access to the internet or technology that would enable these benefits.
Looking toward the future, we examine how we can build greater capacity in health systems, while also expanding capabilities. We focus on three key areas:
- Procurement: As hospitals have an obligation to adhere to very detailed procurement guidelines, there is an opportunity to refine the procurement process by adopting a value-based procurement model that will help ensure new investments align with the needs of clinicians and patients.
- Partnerships: Long-term, strategic partnerships with technology providers that have relevant expertise will help healthcare organizations share risk, improve clinical services, quality of care, and patient outcomes.
- Platform solutions: Transitioning from legacy systems to modern digital solutions will bring many benefits, including increased flexibility, cost savings, improved user experiences, and enhanced security. Examples include digital platform solutions with cloud computing, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
When it comes to adopting digital health innovations and integrating them within existing frameworks, partnering with a technology vendor can make the process easier. Embarking upon a digital transformation is a significant undertaking, but the benefits for patients, clinicians and the healthcare sector are immeasurable.
Peter Varga is a Registered Nurse and the Chief Transformation Officer at HealthHub Solutions, Canada’s leading provider of bedside patient engagement technology. Read Peter’s full article here.
The full March edition can be found here: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/hmf