Changes in Healthcare
Every day the news covers health related stories….the rise in childhood obesity, the ageing population and increasing demand on the healthcare system, the increase in heart disease as the “Boomers” are getting into the senior years and on and on….All of this and at the same time many people do not even have a doctor. What are we doing about it? Do we have a plan? I am always amazed when I hear that the “government will look after us”. All we need is more doctors and nurses (translation: money) and more money and everything will be great! There is No More Money! I think we need to totally reorganize the system, that we should look at a system where, for example, nurses and pharmacists are empowered to do more, to alleviate some of the current demands on doctors. Our expensive, disorganized, fragmented system is unsustainable even as it exists today let alone if we consider future needs. Humans don’t like change. In fact, change management scholars tell us that nine out of ten humans would rather die than change. We might be willing to accept small changes comforted by the possibility of going back to the “good old days” if this new way doesn’t work.
This fear of change will never lead to the necessary transformational changes to reform our health care system. There is so much resistance to any change at all. I don’t get it! I hear that “we don’t want an American system” and I agree, but there are some changes that Americans are looking at and implementing that we can learn from while still holding on to our values of fairness and accessibility to all. One example of a huge change with evidence of success is the American Department of Veteran Affairs that is using technology to monitor and follow many Veterans and saving millions of dollars on healthcare costs. When I contacted our Department of Veteran Affairs, I was told that nurse visits using technology is not on the list of what is covered.
A Harvard business professor, Clayton M. Christensen, argues that the concepts behind “disruptive innovation can reinvent healthcare”. The term “disruptive innovation” refers to an unexpected offering that turns the market on its head. The internet and computers are good examples….there is no going back. The push for this type of “disruptive innovation” in healthcare must come from us, the taxpayers/consumers. We can’t wait until the crisis is here. The crisis is now. Who else will speak for the users? How will healthcare ever be family centered unless it becomes an expectation from us? If all decisions are being made for us by self-interest groups how can our interests come first?
The voices of patients/consumers/clients/families are but a whisper in our system. Healthcare professionals use the words “people-centered healthcare systems”. If this is the case, why do we hear so many horror stories about the patients’ experiences?
Politics drive the system. There has been very little done to address the real needs and quick fixes have prevailed for many years now. As far back as 1999 a Health Services Restructuring Commission Report found that 69% of the billings of general and family physicians were for service fees that were within the licensed scope of practice of nurses and lower-cost health professionals. There have been numerous such reports written over the past several years with great recommendations. Where are they?
Everyday we receive calls from families who need help. So often they are in a crisis and do not know where to turn. These families are trying to negotiate a complex health care system at a time that they really need their energy to meet the challenges they face dealing with a newly diagnosed illness, an aging parent, the loss of a loved one or the need for surgery. We need change and we need it now! I have talked about putting people in charge and facilitating access to care and teaching using technology. I am still convinced that this is the way to go. Are we ready to give it a try?
Your comments and questions are welcome. We are still offering free consultations if you are interested in managing your health. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 514-695-3131, Telehealth Access Centre.