Jun. 1, 2021

Our health-care systems have lost their way

There are very few people who have not been affected by sixteen months of unrelenting propaganda about coronavirus.

We have been on a wild roller-coaster from early days assurances that we had little to fear from the virus and that Canada was low risk to hysterical alarms that our health care systems were on the verge of collapse.

Most propaganda has been speculative misinformation designed to scare us into submission. That was clear when doctors and politicians stopped claiming they were trying to save our lives and admitted they were trying to protect health care systems from collapse.

None of the health care systems survived intact. Hospitals cancelled thousands of elective medical procedures and hundreds more vital treatments to focus on treating COVID-19 patients. Amazingly, provincial governments who usually cannot agree on anything have used the same approach for over a year. We can only speculate on the threats used to achieve this.   

Doctors and politicians must address the backlog of cancelled procedures and lengthy waiting lists for necessary treatments. Rearranging the personnel and facilities is not a viable option. We have done that with no visible improvement in results.

Health care systems are centralized. It does not work because (1) when decision-making is removed from hospitals, so is accountability; and (2) the more remote decision-makers, the less acquainted they are with day-to-day operations.

Decentralization and local accountability are crucial to recovery. Hospital administration must be allowed to experiment with different methods of health care delivery. The current one-size-fits-all approach fell flat on its face.

Health care systems need to benchmark current services. How much does each procedure cost? What is the value of the bricks and mortar, equipment and maintenance in each procedure? Without a benchmark, we cannot measure the progress of improvement efforts.

We need to allow private-sector delivery of medical services. Benchmarking is vital. Private sector suppliers need to know what the bricks and mortar component of service fees is to bid on services.

Private sector corporations can secure lower bids for construction and equipment than any hospital or government. Governments are notorious for lengthy delays in paying and making changes during construction. Contractors bid accordingly as they have to pay interest fees for financing the project.

Once benchmarks are in place, the fees paid to service providers are the same, whether public or private. The taxpayer is protected.

As private sector services take on various procedures, the strain on the public sector diminishes. The revamped system has to build in system capacity to handle a crisis or disaster when they hit, whether an aircraft crash, highway disaster, avalanche, flood, wildfire or epidemic. We need the field hospitals, equipment, transport and trained personnel at the ready.

Our health care systems need a robust human resources element. Medial people focus on service delivery rather than on the personnel. They lack experience in neutral performance assessments and the requirements for disciplinary actions. That has to change to make promotions less arbitrary and to recognize people based on their skills. Without improvements in these skills, hospital managers and supervisors will continue to be ruled by unions.

We need to develop a powerful element of preventive medicine. We need an ongoing active public relations program to highlight the value of good personal health. We need to promote healthy eating, exercise, maintaining minimum levels of vitamins and minerals, the importance of hydration and readily available, low-cost supplements to reduce discomfort and improve immune systems.

The term ‘alternate medicine’ disparages health foods and supplements that may benefit people and keep them away from the health care system. Incentives to encourage health care providers to engage in clinical trials to prove the value of their products make sense.

Our health care systems need an isolation and mental health component. Hours of emergency room care is devoted to people suffering from anxiety, depression or loneliness. This is an area where private-sector clinics can provide social workers to assess needs, reassure clients and direct them to medical resources when appropriate. Pressure on health care is diminished.

Our health care systems have to include advice from other health care professionals. They ignore veterinarians who deal with a wide variety of viruses on an ongoing basis. They maintain the safety of our food supply and have lessons to teach us on virus containment. Others have spent a lifetime studying the effects of vitamins, minerals and supplements on their clients. They have valuable input into preventative medicine.

The objective is to keep people in good health and relieve pressures on our health care systems. Having a family doctor or trained ER nurse holding hands with someone suffering from loneliness indicates that our health care systems have lost their way.