Top Priorities and Solutions for Canada’s Health Care System

As Canada’s health care system strains under the weight of pandemic-related and pre-existing demands, the need to strike the right balance between different modalities of care has become increasingly urgent.

This article draws from the perspectives Medavie CEO, Bernard Lord and Medavie Health Services (MHS) President, Erik Sande recently shared on the value of privately delivered solutions, as part of our publicly funded health care system, to ensure Canadians receive the care they deserve and expect — where and when they need it.

“The effects of the pandemic will be felt for years to come. This enhances the need to embrace change.”
- Bernard Lord, Medavie CEO, Globe & Mail Health Care Innovation virtual event

Even before the pandemic, Canada’s health care system had been steadily moving beyond diagnosing and treating patients in traditional ‘bricks-and-mortar’ settings to virtual environments and/or community-based, mobile clinics; helping patients access a broad spectrum of services ― from help with monitoring and managing chronic disease to preventative care to counselling for a mental health concern and more.

To support care outside hospitals, governments are drawing on the expertise of various health care organizations ― many that are not-for-profits like Medavie — with the same shared values and objectives as the health systems being served.

“The goal is to deliver scalable, sustainable solutions to quickly meet growing demand and to address such issues as high wait times, hallway medicine, backlogs in surgeries and diagnostics, strained resources, lack of universal access and more.”
- Erik Sande, President, Medavie Health Services, Healthcare Papers (Longwoods Publishing)

An example is Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) programs using patient-centred, mobile resources in out-of-hospital environments. They can take many forms: assisting public health, delivering primary and preventative health care, remote patient monitoring, after-hours support, mobile clinics and supporting vulnerable populations, including seniors, those with complex medical needs and/or those in remote communities.

“Innovation is part of the solution, and it’s not just technology. Innovation is how we think about the problem.”
Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie

MIH programs are gaining momentum in communities across the country alongside virtual care and include these MHS-administered programs:

  • Ontario - In Chatham-Kent, Ontario, the local community paramedicine program has resulted in an 84% reduction in 911 calls and a 51% reduction in Emergency Department visits for targeted populations.
  • Saskatchewan - A Mobile Health Bus in Saskatoon is a collaboration between the Saskatoon Tribal Council, as well as the provincial and federal government that delivers dental services, community paramedicine and mental health support to seven First Nation communities.
  • Prince Edward Island - In PEI, a Mobile Mental Health Response Service has been providing a community-focused response from a specialized health care team to Islanders experiencing a mental health crisis. Over a three-month period, results showed a 75% reduction in ambulance responses and a 98% reduction in police responses to mental health crises.
  • Canada’s North - Since May 2020, through Indigenous Services Canada, paramedics have been travelling to Canada’s northern, remote communities to work with other health care professionals, including First Nations and Inuit Health Branch-employed nurses, to ensure that nursing stations and health centers continue to provide life-saving care to these communities.
“Such collaboration can only improve the strength of our overall health care system as we unlock new knowledge, share unique perspectives and develop innovative solutions together.”
- Erik Sande, President, Medavie Health Services

Perhaps the best example of how MIH can quickly address urgent, public health issues was seen during the height of the pandemic. Working alongside other health professionals, paramedics were engaged to conduct provincial border screening, mobile testing and COVID-19 vaccine administration at long-term care facilities and through mobile clinics, helping to keep communities safe at a critical time.

“You can have universal coverage, but government does not have to do everything.”
- Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie

Read Erik Sande’s full Healthcare Papers’ commentary, Collaborations in care: Working together to give Canadians the health care they need and deserve (must be a subscriber) or download the PDF. Available in English only.

View a recording of Bernard Lord’s Globe & Mail Health Care Innovation virtual event interview Innovation in Focus – Top priorities for Canadian health care

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