Waiting for health care: still not good enough
(NC) We wait in traffic, for the part to fix our car, and for our income tax refund. But how long should we wait for our health care?
Ten years ago, longer wait times for health care services were a major concern for Canadians. The federal, provincial and territorial governments pledged to do something about it, and billions of dollars later, there have been some improvements. You will wait less time for a hip or knee replacement, for example.
But we still have a long way to go. Although Canada is a top spender when it comes to health care, we wait longer for some types of care than many other high income countries, including France, the United Kingdom, and Germany:
Wait to see a family doctor: Canada ranks last out of 10 countries. In 2012, only 47% of our primary care doctors reported they could provide appointments the same or next day.
Wait for elective surgery: Canada ranks last out of 11 countries. In 2010, 25% of Canadians reported that they waited four months or more for elective surgery – or surgery that is non-life -threatening that is subject to choice.
And despite Canada's commitment to equity in health care, there are also differences in wait times across the country. Where you live matters — and it shouldn't.
The Health Council of Canada, a national organization that reports on the progress of health care reform across Canada, argues that we need to do better. Reducing wait times is complex, but governments have had some success. They need to continue to try innovative approaches, and to measure and share the results so that others can learn from their experiences. Health care organizations and professionals need to consider how to improve coordination, eliminate duplication and make sure that we don't waste time and money on tests and procedures that are unnecessary. Lastly, the patient's perspective must be taken into account, first and foremost.
It's a tall order, but with more collaboration, Canadians would not have to wait any longer— for better health, better care, and better value. They expect, and deserve, no less.
To view innovative approaches to reducing wait times, visit our website at healthcouncilcanada.ca/waittimes.
Word count: 363
Articles are provided free of charge. Articles appearing on web sites, must credit www.newscanada.com. Articles appearing in Print, must credit News Canada with (NC) at beginning of an article or – News Canada at the end. Any source/sponsor of the information quoted in the text must also be identified as presented. Images are only to be used with corresponding editorial copy. Usage of News Canada articles constitutes your acceptance of these terms and an agreement between you and News Canada.
Image Instructions - Note: Illegal to use without News Canada editorial.
To open/download image(s) used in this article, please click the following links:Click here for image file: «79364H.jpg»