Better Now

An important check-up on our health-care system–and what urgently needs fixing–from a respected doctor and passionate Medicare advocate. Ahmed is a diabetic taxi driver who can’t afford to renew his prescriptions; Susan, a 75-year old patient who went to Emergency for severe flu symptoms, ended up with a broken hip from falling down in her hospital room and was later discharged without her blood pressure meds. Sam was an active, healthy retiree who suffered a stroke from an unnecessary heart test. All of these people suffered from fixable and preventable issues, illustrating the opportunity for change that doesn’t simply involve higher levels of spending. Canada’s health care system was built on a promise we can all be proud of: the promise of access to services based on need, rather than the ability to pay. We can continue to be proud of that promise, but to deliver on it, Medicare needs to be improved. From the vantage point of a family doctor working in the system, this book shows how we can do better. Now. Passionate, accessible, and authoritative, Dr. Martin is a fervent supporter of the best of Medicare and a persuasive critic of what needs to be fixed. SIX BIG IDEAS: · Abida: The Return to Relationships – The relationship and communication that takes place inside every doctor’s office can make or break health outcomes and health care budgets. We can do better by making some important changes to the doctor-patient relationship. · Ahmed: A Nation with a Drug Problem – Canada pays too much for prescription drugs and more than one in five Canadians have said that they or someone in their household could not afford to take medications due to costs. A strong national pharmacare program would solve our access problems and save Canadians a lot of money in the process. · Susan: Doing More With Less – We don’t need more money, more doctors or surgeons, or more fancy machines. We do need to better organize the resources we already have in our health care system to achieve the kind of change we all would benefit from. · Sam: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There – Ordering tests to simply tick a box or rule out unlikely health risks doesn’t always lead to better outcomes. Educating doctors and patients about safe ordering practices when it comes to tests and treatments can help save three of our most precious resources: our health, time and money. · Leslie: Basic Income for Basic Health – Our social and economic environments are responsible for half of the health of our population. By providing every Canadian with a basic income to support basic health, we would remove one of the biggest barriers to welfare in our country. · Jonah: The Anatomy of Change – In health care, we often struggle to amplify our small-scale successes. If we could shift the culture to support the broader uptake of local innovation, we could fill some of our biggest health gaps and build the high performing health system of the future.