One problem with Harpers Quebec proposal adoption

File this under ‘No news is good news’ — if you dare.

It seems to me there has been precious little public dialogue onpatient wait times since the middle of last month when newly-mintedPrime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his government’s plan tonegotiate a Patient Wait Times Guarantee with the provinces, and indoing so commended the Quebec’s plan to ensure patients receivetimely access to vital services.

There has been even less discussion about how Quebec’s plan, inpart, runs in the face of the conventional wisdom of electronichealth record (EHR) functionality, or a grasp of what the privatesector partners can bring to the mix.

“We welcome this innovative approach as a starting point and itis our hope that the Government of Canada will be able tocollaborate with all of its provincial and territorial governmentpartners to develop a national Patient Wait Times Guarantee,”Harper said.

Also, mirroring the Government of Canada’s approach, theso-called Quebec proposal would allow Quebec residents who cannotreceive timely treatment in their own area to receive treatment inanother jurisdiction or at a private clinic with costs being paidfor by public insurance.

Read the full release here

Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, public money for privatecare may not even be necessary, let alone a sufficient conditionfor transferring patients out of their jurisdictions.

In recent years, most governments have been pointing to apromised land of efficient, effective health care with minimal waittimes. But, says Michael Green, vice-president for health care atToronto-based Agfa Inc. “most people want to get access (to healthcare) immediately.”

“I think the government strategy is to have wait time targets,”said Green. “There are other issues like public safety, but I don’tthink those are at the top of the public mind.”

Green said many in his shoes believe technology that can providelong-term solutions and guarantee an improvement to the health caresystem is a better investment.

“Implementing technology and resources that are currentlylacking, such as MRI machines and Picture Archive andCommunications Systems (PACS), can actually reduce wait times,”said Green. “It will also remove the need for patients to travel inorder to receive care.”

“If you eliminate film from a hospital you create an electronicimage that is available to anyone, at any time, and at any numberof locations.” Green said. “You can do distance consulting and allsorts of other things that increase the efficiency of theprocess.”

Read Michael Green’s full comments here

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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