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A new vision for Canada: family practice— the patient’s medical home 2019

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14024
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy endorsement
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The evolving needs of patients and their communities place ever-changing demands on the health care system to maintain and improve the quality of services provided. Changing population demographics, increasing complexity, and new technology make for a dynamic system. Family physicians are at the heart of the health care system, acting as the first point of contact and a reliable medical resource to the communities they serve, caring for patients and supporting them throughout all interactions with the health care system. The Patient’s Medical Home (PMH) is a vision that emphasizes the role of the family practice and family physicians in providing high-quality, compassionate, and timely care. The success of a PMH depends on collaboration and teamwork—from the patient’s participation in their care to interprofessional and intraprofessional care providers working together, to policy-makers who can offer infrastructure support and funding. PMH 2019 was created with invaluable feedback from a broad range of stakeholders reflective of such a joint approach. Its goal is to make the PMH a reality for patients and providers across Canada. In 2011 the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) released A Vision for Canada: Family Practice - The Patient’s Medical Home.1 It outlined a vision for the future of primary care by transforming the health care system to better meet the needs of everyone living in Canada. The vision outlined the 10 pillars that make up the PMH and provided detailed recommendations to assist family physicians and their teams, as well as policy-makers and health care system administrators, to implement this new model across the country. WHY A REVISED PMH? Since 2011 many principles of the PMH vision have been embraced in primary care reforms. New models have been introduced across Canada (see Progress on the PMH to Date). To better reflect current realties, meet the evolving needs of family physicians and their teams, and support continued implementation of the PMH, the CFPC has developed this revised edition of the vision. It reflects evolving realities of primary care in Canada, including the rapid adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs)2,3 and a shift toward interprofessional practice structures.2 While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to fully achieve the PMH vision. In 2016 almost 75 per cent of Canadians rated the quality of care received from their family physicians as good or excellent.4 In 2017 a CFPC survey found that 79 per cent of respondents rate the care they receive from their family doctor as excellent or good.5 However, at the same time 55 per cent of Canadians also believed that the overall health care system still required fundamental changes.4 In addition, Canada continues to perform below the international average on certain aspects of patient-centred care; for example, same- or next-day access to appointments. While most Canadians (84.7 per cent) have a regular doctor or place of care, they generally report longer wait times for medical care than adults in comparable countries.4 PMH 2019 addresses these concerns and proposes solutions that can help further improve the primary care system for all. Although the specific components of the revised PMH have been updated (see What is the Patient’s Medical Home?), the core principles remain the same. PMH 2019 focuses on providing high-quality, patient-centred, and comprehensive care to patients and their families during their lifetime. It embraces the critical role that family physicians and family practices play in the health care system, reflecting the fact that systems with strong primary health care deliver better health outcomes, enhance efficiency, and improve quality of care.6 PMH 2019 recognizes that a patient will not be able to see their personal family physician at every visit, but can rely on the PMH’s qualified team of health professionals to provide the most appropriate care responding to patient needs with continuous support and leadership from family physicians. PMH 2019 highlights the central importance of community adaptiveness and social accountability in primary care with a new pillar. The importance of being responsive to community needs through engagement, and ensuring the provision of equitable, culturally safe, antioppressive practise that seeks to assess and intervene into social determinants of health (SDoH), is now more clearly featured. 2 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 PURPOSE OF THIS DOCUMENT PMH 2019 outlines 10 revised pillars that make up a PMH. Key attributes are defined and explained for each pillar. Supporting research is provided to demonstrate the evidence base for each attribute. This document is intended to support family physicians currently working in a PMH to better align their practice with the PMH pillars, or assist those practices looking to transition to a PMH. Furthermore, this document can guide governments, policy-makers, other health care professionals, and patients on how to structure a primary health care system that is best-suited to meet the needs of Canadians. Many resources for the PMH have been developed and will continue to be available. These include practical Best Advice guides on a range of topics and the self-assessment tool that can help quantify a practice’s progress toward PMH alignment. Moving forward, additional materials that address the new themes identified in PMH 2019 and the tools to support physicians in the transition to PMH structures—for example the PMH Implementation Kit— will be available at patientsmedicalhome.ca. What is a Patient’s Medical Home? The PMH is a family practice defined by its patients as the place they feel most comfortable presenting and discussing their personal and family health and medical concerns. The PMH can be broken down into three themes: Foundations, Functions, and Ongoing Development (see Table 1 and Figure 1). The three Foundation pillars are the supporting structures that facilitate the care provided by the PMH. All three aspects are required for the successful implementation and sustainability of a PMH. The Functions are areas central to the operation of a family practice and consist of the five core PMH pillars. These principles govern the type of care provided by the PMH practices to ensure it is effective and efficient for meeting the needs of the patients, families, and communities they serve. The pillars in this section reflect the Four Principles of Family Medicine,7 which underlines the important place they take in the overall PMH 2019. The pillars in Ongoing Development are essential to advancing the PMH vision. These areas make it possible for physicians to provide the best possible care for patients in various settings. Applying these pillars, the PMH will thrive through practising quality improvement (QI) principles to achieve the results necessary to meet the needs of their patients, their communities, and the broader health care community, now and in the future. The PMH is a vision to which every practice can aspire. Many practices across Canada have already begun transitioning to a PMH, thanks to the dedication and leadership of family physicians and their teams across Table 1. 10 Pillars of the revised PMH vision THEME PILLAR Foundations 1. Administration and Funding 2. Appropriate Infrastructure 3. Connected Care Functions 4. Accessible Care 5. Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability 6. Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership 7. Continuity of Care 8. Patient- and Family-Partnered Care Ongoing Development 9. Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research 10. Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 3 the country. This vision is a resource for these practices as they engage in ongoing practice assessment and QI initiatives. It can also assist other stakeholders, including government planners, policy-makers, and funders to better understand what defines an effective patientcentred family practice. By involving patients in all stages of the development, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement (CQI) activities of the practice, the PMH can contribute significantly to furthering the goals of transformation to a patient-centred health care system.8 What the Patient’s Medical Home is Not While it is important to understand what the PMH aspires to be, it is also important to highlight that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Solo practices in rural or remote settings or large group practices serving inner-city populations can align with PMH principles by incorporating strategies that match the realities of their unique settings. In fact, social accountability and community adaptiveness is an important new addition to the revised PMH vision to account for the need of every family practice to adapt and respond to the needs of their patients and communities. What works for one practice will not work for all. The PMH vision does not require that all practices be relocated or re-engineered, or that significant financial investments be made by physicians or other health care professionals. Instead, system level support and involvement is required to achieve the vision. The pillars and attributes listed in this document are signposts along the way to reform that aids practices on their journey. It is important to note that this vision is not intended to undermine or change any exciting initiatives involving family practice currently under way across Canada (several of which already embrace and incorporate the medical home concept; see Progress on the PMH to Date). Rather, it is meant to build on and strengthen these efforts. The more that health care initiatives meet PMH objectives, the more likely it is that the overall goals of creating a patient-centred health care system throughout Canada will be realized. Figure 1. The Patient’s Medical Home 4 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 PROGRESS ON THE PMH TO DATE Since the release of the original PMH vision document, system-level change has occurred in almost all jurisdictions in Canada. More specifically, PMH-type practices are gaining traction in various provinces and currently exist in various stages of development. The CFPC took a snapshot of PMH uptake in all provinces in the PMH Provincial Report Card, published in early 2019.9 That report contains grades and descriptions for progress in each province up to late 2018, which acts as a useful gauge for where the vision stands at the time of publication of this new edition. Alberta In Alberta, primary care networks (PCNs)10 were established to link groups of family physicians and other health care professionals. Within PCNs clinicians work together to provide care specific to community and population health care needs. Currently, there are 42 PCNs operating in Alberta, comprised of more than 3,700 (or 80 per cent of) family physicians, and over 1,100 other health care practitioners. PCNs provide care to close to 3.6 million Albertans, 80 per cent of the population in Alberta. Primary care clinics are being asked to collect data for Third Next Available (TNA) appointments to improve access for Albertans.11 TNA measures the delay patients experience in accessing their providers for a scheduled appointment. TNA is considered a more accurate system measure of access than the “next available” appointment, since the next or second next available appointment may have become available due to a cancellation or other event that is not predictable or reliable. British Columbia The British Columbia government’s new primary care strategy focuses on expanding access to team-based care through PCNs.12 PCNs are in the initial stages of adoption and when fully rolled out will provide a systemlevel change—working to connect various providers to improve access to, and quality of, care. They will allow patients to access the full range of health care options, streamline referrals, and provide better support to family physicians, nurse practitioners, and other primary health care providers. The General Practice Services Committee13 (GPSC; a partnership of the provincial government and Doctors of BC) specifically references and builds on the PMH concept in their vision for the future of British Columbia’s health care system. Manitoba In Manitoba, PMHs are Home Clinics and PCNs are My Health Teams. My Health Teams bring together teams of health care providers (physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, etc.) to collaborate in providing highquality care based on community and patient needs.14 As suggested by the name of the initiative itself, the goal is to improve health care by developing teams of health care professionals who will work together to address primary health care needs of Manitobans.15 The first two My Health Teams were established in 2014, and there are now 15 across the province.16 The Manitoba Centre for Health Policy did some work assessing the impact of My Health Teams. New Brunswick In 2017 the government announced the New Brunswick Family Plan, which placed a specific emphasis on access to team-based care. To achieve this goal, the provincial government and the New Brunswick Medical Society established a voluntary program called Family Medicine New Brunswick. In this team-based model, physicians have their own rosters of patients, but also provide a service to all patients of doctors on their team.17 It was announced in 2018 that 25 family physicians will be added to the provincial health care system to ensure more New Brunswick residents have access to a primary care physician and to help reduce wait times.18 Newfoundland and Labrador In 2015 the Newfoundland and Labrador government released Healthy People, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities: A primary health care framework for Newfoundland and Labrador. The strategy’s goals include ensuring “timely access to comprehensive, person-focused primary health care services and supports,” and “primary health care reform should work to establish teams of providers that facilitate access to a range of health and social services tailored to meet A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 5 the needs of the communities they serve.”19 Both goals align with the general PMH principles. Primary health care teams have been introduced in St. John’s and are planned for Corner Brook and Burin.20 Many initiatives under way as a part of this strategy are in the early stages of development. Continuing in the direction laid out will move Newfoundland and Labrador closer to integrating the PMH vision in their delivery of primary health care. Northwest Territories The recent creation of a single Territorial Health Authority has enabled work on primary care improvements across the Northwest Territories. In August 2018 the NWT Health and Social Services Leadership Council unanimously voted in favour of a resolution supporting redesigning the health care system toward a team- and relationshipbased approach, consistent with PMH values. In several regions, contracted physicians are already assigned to regularly visit remote communities and work closely with local staff to provide continuity of remote support between visits. Planning is under way for implementing PMH-based multidisciplinary care teams in several larger regional centres, with enhanced continuity and access to physician and nursing staff as well as co-located mental health support and other health care disciplines. This work is facilitated by a territory-wide EMR and increased use of telehealth and other modalities of virtual care. Nova Scotia The 2017 Strengthening the Primary Health Care System in Nova Scotia report recommended establishing “health homes,” consisting of interprofessional, collaborative family practice teams. The model is based on a population health approach that focuses on wellness and chronic disease management/prevention and incorporates comprehensive, team-based care. There are approximately 50 collaborative family practice21 teams and a number of primary care teams across Nova Scotia. Ontario The model most aligned with the PMH framework is the family health team (FHT).22 FHTs are comprised of family physicians, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals, and provide community-centred primary care programs and services. The 184 FHTs collectively serve over three million enrolled Ontarians. Based on the results of a five-year evaluation undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada in 2014, FHTs have achieved improvements at the organizational and service-delivery levels.23 Much progress has also been made through patient enrolment models. Patient enrolment, or rostering, is a process in which patients are formally registered with a primary care provider or team. Patient enrolment facilitates accountability by defining the population for which the provider is responsible. Formal patient enrolment with a primary care physician lays the foundation for a proactive approach to chronic disease management and preventive care.24 Studies show that the models have achieved some degree of success in enhancing health system efficiency in Ontario through the reducing use of emergency departments for non-emergent care.25 Prince Edward Island In Prince Edward Island, primary care is provided through five PCNs.26 Each network consists of a team that includes family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, diabetes educators, licensed practical nurses, clerical staff, and in some cases dietitians and mental health workers. They offer a broad range of health services including diagnosis, treatment, education, disease prevention, and screening. Quebec The Groupes de médecine de famille27 (GMF) is the team-based care model in Quebec most closely aligned with the PMH. GMF ranking (obligations, financial, and professional supports) is based on weighted patient rostering. One GMF may serve from 6,000 to more than 30,000 patients. The resource allocation (financial and health care professionals) depends on the weighted patient target under which the GMF falls. In a GMF, each doctor takes care of their own registered patients, but all physicians in the GMF can access medical records of all patients. GMFs provide team-based care with physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals working collaboratively to provide appropriate health care based on community needs. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan has made investments in a Connected Care Strategy, which focuses on a team approach to care that includes the patient and family, and extends from the community to the hospital and back again. It is about connecting teams and providing seamless care for people who have multiple, ongoing health care needs, with a particular focus on care in the community.28 6 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 FOUNDATIONS PMH foundations are the underlying, supporting structures that enable a practice to exist, and facilitate providing each PMH function. Without a strong foundation, the PMH cannot successfully provide high-quality, patient-centred care. The foundations are Administration and Funding (includes financial and governmental support and strong governance, leadership, and management), Appropriate Infrastructure (includes physical space, human resources, and electronic records and other digital supports), and Connected Care (practice integration with other care settings enabled by health IT). ADMINISTRATION & FUNDING PAGE 7 APPROPRIATE INFRASTRUCTURE PAGE 9 CONNECTED CARE PAGE 12 Patients as partners in health care Patient-centred or patient-partnered? Understanding and acknowledging patients as full partners in their own care is a small but powerful change in terminology. Considering and respecting patients as partners allows health care providers to better recognize and include the skills and experience each patient brings to the table. Patient perspectives and feedback can be more inclusively incorporated in the QI processes in place to improve care delivery. Understanding the nature of patient partnerships can help physicians better establish trusting relationships with those in their care.29 Pillar 1: Administration and Funding Practice governance and management Effective practice governance is essential to ensuring an integrated process of planning, coordinating, implementing, and evaluating.30 Every PMH should clearly define its governance and administrative structure and functions, and identify staff responsible for each function. While the complexity of these systems varies depending on the practice size, the number of members on the health care professional team, and the needs of the population being served, every PMH should have an organizational plan in place that helps guide the practice operations. From a governance perspective, policies and procedures should be developed and regularly reviewed and updated, especially in larger practices. These policies and procedures will offer guidance in areas such as organization of clinical services, appointment and booking systems, information management, facilities, equipment and supplies, human resources, defining PMH team members’ clinical and administrative/management roles and responsibilities, budget and finances, legal and liability issues, patient and provider safety, and CQI. In some cases, standardized defaults for these may be available based on the province of practice and existing structures supporting interprofessional teams. Structures and systems need to be in place that allow for compensated time for providers to undertake and actively participate in CQI activities. This needs to be scheduled and remunerated so that it is seen as being as important and critical as clinical time. To ensure that all PMH team members have the capacity to take on their required roles, leadership development programs should be offered. Enabling physicians to engage in this necessary professional development requires sufficient government funding to cover training A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 7 Practices need staff and financial support, advocacy, governance, leadership, and management in order to function as part of the community and deliver exceptional care. 1.1 Governance, administrative, and management roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and supported in each PMH. 1.2 Sufficient system funding is available to support PMHs, including the clinical, teaching, research, and administrative roles of all members of PMH teams. 1.3 Blended remuneration models that best support team-based, patient-partnered care in a PMH should be considered to incentivize the desired approach. 1.4 Future federal/provincial/territorial health care funding agreements provide appropriate funding mechanisms that support PMH priorities, including preventive care, population health, electronic records, community-based care, and access to medications, social services, and appropriate specialist and acute care. 8 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 costs and financial support to ensure lost income is not a barrier (see Pillar 10: Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development). External supports Every family practice in Canada can become a PMH and an optimal learning environment will only be achievable with the participation and support of all stakeholders throughout the health care system. This includes family physicians; other health professionals who will play critical roles on PMH teams; federal, provincial, and territorial governments; academic training programs; governing bodies for physicians and allied health care providers; and most importantly, the people of Canada themselves, individually and in their communities—the recipients of care provided by the PMH. To achieve their objectives, PMHs need the support of governments across Canada through the provision of adequate funding and other resources. Given that the structure, composition, and organization of each PMH will differ based on community and population needs, funding must be flexible. More specifically, PMH practices will differ in terms of the staff they require (clinical, administrative, etc.). Funding must be available to ensure that PMH practices can determine optimal staffing levels and needs, to best meet community needs. The health care system must also ensure that all health care professionals on the PMH team have appropriate liability protection, and that adequate resources are provided to ensure that each PMH practice can provide an optimal setting for teaching students and residents and for conducting practice-based research. These characteristics are also reflected in the Four Principles of Family Medicine, reinforcing the centrality of family medicine to the delivery of care. Experience through new models of family practice, such as patient enrolment models (PEMs) in Ontario, suggests that blended funding models are emerging as the preferred approach to paying family physicians.31–33 These models are best suited to incentivizing teambased, patient-partnered care. The current fee-forservice (FFS) model incentivizes a series of short consultations that might be insufficient to address all of the patient’s needs, while blended remuneration provides for groups of physicians to work together to provide comprehensive care through office hours and after-hours care for their rostered patients. Capitation allows for more in-depth consultations depending on population need, rather than a volume-based model. Research has also found that blended capitation models can lead to small improvements in processes of care (e.g., meeting preventive care quality targets)34 and can be especially useful for supporting patients in managing and preventing chronic diseases.35 The CFPC advocates for governments to implement blended payment mechanisms across the country to achieve better health outcomes (see the Best Advice guide: Physician Remuneration in a Patient’s Medical Home36 for more information). It is important to ensure that additional practice activities such as leadership development, QI, and teaching are supported through dedicated funding or protected time intended specifically for these activities and are not seen as financially disadvantageous. The sustainability of Canada’s health care system depends on a foundation of strong primary care and family practice.37 Indeed, “high-performing primary care is widely recognized as the foundation of an effective and efficient health care system.”38 Future funding for health care—in particular from the federal government through federal, provincial, and territorial agreements—must be sustained through appropriate and well-designed funding agreements that incentivize PMH visions of primary care; other medical home priorities including preventive care, population health, EMRs; communitybased care; along with access to medications, social services, and appropriate specialist and acute care. For the PMH vision to be successful and a part of the future of family practice care in Canada, we need the commitment and support of everyone in the Canadian health care system, including decision makers and patients. By working with all levels of government and with patients, we can improve the health care system so that everyone in Canada has access to patient-centred, comprehensive, team-based care. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 9 Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure The shift in Canada from paper-based patient records to EMRs is reaching saturation. As delivery of care evolves with greater integration of technology, potential applications to improve patient care expand.39 The proportion of family physicians using EMRs has grown from 16 per cent in 2004 to 85 per cent in 2017.40 As it becomes ubiquitous in health care delivery, information technology can be of great benefit in sharing information with patients, facilitating adherence to treatment plans and medication regimes, and using health information technology (HIT) in new and innovative methods of care. However, HIT also poses new risks and can create new barriers. Providers should be mindful of how the application about new technologies may hinder good quality patient care. When properly implemented, EMRs can help track data over time, identify patients who are due for preventive visits, better monitor patient baseline parameters (such as vaccinations and blood pressure readings), and improve overall quality of care in a practice.1 EMRs can enhance the capacity of every practice to store and recall medical information on each patient and on the practice population as a whole. They can facilitate sharing information needed for referrals and consultations. The information in an electronic record can be used for teaching, carrying out practice-based research, and evaluating the effectiveness of the practice change as part of a commitment to CQI.1 EMRs and HIT actively support other pillars in the PMH vision. In addition to storing and sharing information, the biggest benefit of this technology is the ability to collect data for practice performance and health outcomes of patients served by family practices.41 The data allow practices to measure progress through CQI goals. Larger-scale collection allows for the aggregation of anonymized data sets and measuring performance beyond the practice level.41 Strict privacy regulations ensure that patient data remain secure and confidential. Overall, QI and research benefit patients by guiding more appropriate and efficient care, which forms the basis of another key pillar of Physical space, staffing, electronic records and other digital supports, equipment, and virtual networks facilitate the delivery of timely, accessible, and comprehensive care. 2.1 All PMHs use EMRs in their practices and are able to access supports to maintain their EMR systems. 2.2 EMR products intended for use in PMHs are identified and approved by a centralized process that includes family physicians and other health care professionals. Practices are able to select an EMR product from a list of regionally approved vendors. 2.3 EMRs approved for PMHs will include appropriate standards for managing patient care in a primary care setting; e-prescribing capacity; clinical decision support programs; e-referral and consultation tools; e-scheduling tools that support advanced access; and systems that support data analytics, teaching, research, evaluation, and CQI. 2.4 Electronic records used in a PMH are interconnected, user-friendly, and interoperable. 2.5 Co-located PMH practices are in physical spaces that are accessible and set up to support collaboration and interaction between team members. 2.6 A PMH has the appropriate staff to provide timely access (e.g., having physician assistants and/or registered nurses to meet PMH goals). 2.7 A PMH has technology to enable alternative forms of care, such as virtual care/telecare. 2.8 Sufficient system funding and resources are provided to ensure that teaching faculty and facility requirements will be met by every PMH teaching site. the PMH vision— Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research. As EMR use becomes common, issues shift from rollout to optimization in the practice. Ideally, EMRs must be adequately supported financially and use a universal terminology to allow for standardized data management, and be interoperable with other electronic health records relevant to patient care.1 Training and ongoing technical support for effective use of technology must also be available. Digital information sources, especially in the sensitive areas of patient information and care planning, require a higher level of technical support to maintain faith in their use and application across stakeholder groups. A comprehensive, systematic analysis of peer-reviewed and grey literature found that cost sharing or financial sponsorship from governments is required to support the high cost of EMR adoption and maintenance. Governments in several European countries equip all primary care practices with interoperable, ambulatory care-focused electronic health records (EHRs) that allow information to flow across settings to enhance the continuity and coordination of care.1 Ensuring that government supports enable adoption, maintenance and effective use, coordination, and interoperability of electronic tools is crucial for meaningful use of this technology. A PMH will also use technology for alternative forms of care. Virtual care is clinical interactions that do not require patients and providers to be in the same room at the same time.42 Virtual visits will be financially compensated by provincial health plans. Consultations may be asynchronous, where patients answer structured clinical questions online and then receive care from a physician at a later time (e-visits), or synchronous, where patients interact with physicians in real time via telephone (teleconsultations), videoconference (virtual visits), or text.43 Virtual care increases accessibility for those living in rural and remote areas, but also in urban areas where some patients do not have a regular primary care physician or cannot access their physician for in-person appointments within a time frame that meets their current needs.43 Virtual care can also be an alternative solution for patients living in long-term care facilities and/or with mobility issues.43 Strong communication between team members allows PMH practices to function on a virtual basis when the health care professionals are not stationed in the same physical space. It is important to recognize when colocation is not feasible and maintain effective information flow in these situations, which may be especially relevant in rural and remote areas. Practices should ensure the electronic records they use are set up to support collaboration and interaction between all members of the team as much as possible, which includes all health care providers within the PMH as well as the patient’s circle of support. For example, ensuring that when patients see someone other than their most responsible provider is logged into the system and is easy to review to maintain the continuity of care. This becomes complex in situations where providers are not co-located, and further system level supports up to the level of more interoperable and universal electronic records is a prerequisite for full application of this principle. Appropriate infrastructure in a PMH is not just about technology—it includes efficient, effective, and ergonomically well-designed reception, administration, and clinical areas in the office. This is of significant benefit to staff and patients alike.44 Having a shared physical and/or virtual space where multiple team members can meet to build relationships and trust, and communicate with each other regarding patient care is essential to creating a collaborative practice. Team-based care thrives when care is intentional, when planned and regular patient care meetings are incorporated into usual PMH practice, and when these steps are included in remuneration. This collaboration ensures that patients are involved in all relevant Satisfaction with virtual visits A British Columbia study found that over 93 per cent of patients indicated that their virtual visit was of high quality, and 91 per cent reported that their virtual visit was very or somewhat helpful to resolve their health issue.43 10 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 11 discussions and are receiving the best care from professionals with a comprehensive set of skills. A family practice should be physically accessible to patients and their families. This includes ensuring all public areas, washrooms, and offices are wheelchair accessible.44 An examination room should comfortably accommodate the patient and whatever appropriate companion, or health care professionals, who may be in the room at the same time. Having multi-purpose rooms also reduces or eliminates the need to wait for an appropriate room to be available. To achieve their objectives, PMHs need the support of governments across Canada through the provision of adequate funding and other resources. Research demonstrates that in the case of EMRs, key barriers to adoption by family physicians include financial and time constraints, lack of knowledgeable support personnel, lack of interoperability with hospital and pharmacy systems,45 as well as provincial/territorial EHR systems. Therefore, government must assure funding to support the PMH team in their clinical, research, and administrative responsibilities. There must also be support for core practice components such as EMRs, patient-centred practice strategies such as group visits, and electronic communications between patients and health professionals (see Pillar 1: Administration and Funding). EMRs should help improve the delivery of care in community-based practices by enhancing productivity and processes. They are not intended to reduce time with patients, nor should they cause physician burnout or have a negative impact on physician wellness. While the structures supporting the PMH practices differs by province, it is important they cover a common set of principles enabling the base functionalities described in this document. The system must also ensure that all health professionals on the PMH team have appropriate liability protection and that adequate resources are provided so that each PMH practice can provide an optimal setting for teaching students and residents and for conducting practice-based research. Provider autonomy is critical to provider wellness: as physician leadership within the PMH is one of the key pillars, preservation of physician autonomy, while respecting the autonomy and ensuring the accountability of both patients and other health care professionals, must be addressed. Figure 2. The Patient’s Medical Neighbourhood Pillar 3: Connected Care Canada Health Infoway Established in 2001, Canada Health Infoway47 is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. It seeks to improve health care access, moving beyond traditional in-person care models to innovative strategies that accelerate the development, adoption, and effective use of digital health solutions across Canada. Key digital health priorities include electronic records, telehomecare, virtual visits, and patient portals. Connectivity and effective communication within and across settings of care is a crucial concept of a PMH. This ensures that the care patients receive is coordinated and continuous. To achieve this, each PMH should establish, maintain, and use defined links with secondary and tertiary care providers, including local hospitals; other specialists and medical care clinics; public health units; and laboratory, diagnostic imaging, physiotherapy, mental health and addiction, rehabilitation, and other health and social services. Connected care is a priority for many health care organizations in Canada. For example, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) has established a unique program that looks at improving care connections between providers through improved use of technology.41 (See the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement textbox for more information). The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and HEAL recognize that giving Canadians the best health and health care requires creating a functionally integrated health system along the full continuum of care—a system based on interprofessional collaborative teams that ensure the right provider, at the right time, in the right place, for the right care.46 Similarly, Canada Health Infoway focuses on expanding digital health across the system to improve quality of and access to care. The PMH exists within the broader patient’s medical neighbourhood (see Figure 2), with links to all other providers in the community. It is important to maintain connections with colleagues in health care as well as social support organizations within the community, as described in Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability. Through links within the neighbourhood, PMH practices work with other providers to ensure timely access for referrals/consultations and define processes for information sharing. Establishing and maintaining these links requires open and frequent communication between all those involved in patient care. 12 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Practice integration with other care settings and services, a process enabled by integrating health information technology. 3.1 A PMH is connected with the health and social services available in the community for patient referrals. 3.2 Defined links are established between the PMH and other medical specialists, and medical care services in the local or nearest community to ensure timely referrals. 3.3 The PMH serves as a hub for collecting and sharing relevant patient information through information technology. It ensures the continuity of patient information received throughout the medical and social service settings. Ideally PMH practices act as the central hub for patient care by collecting and coordinating relevant patient information from external care providers and patients. This includes medical care and care accessed through other health and social services; for example, services received through home care programs. PMH practices should also be able to share relevant information with external providers where and when appropriate, while strictly adhering to relevant privacy regulations. This two-way flow of information ensures that all providers in the network of care have access to the most accurate and comprehensive information available, allowing them “… to spend less time looking for information and more time on what matters: treating the patient.” 49 Overall, connected care in the PMH and the health system is enabled through HIT systems. PMH practices continuously strive to work efficiently with other providers in the patient’s medical neighborhood by taking advantage of developing technologies that make links quicker to establish and easier to maintain. To use HIT systems for coordinated care, the following are required:51 Data standardization Interoperable EMR and other health information systems Real-time access to data and the ability to relay accurate information in a timely manner Reliable communication mechanisms between various health and social service providers and the PMH Privacy for patient information It is important to keep in mind that any patient information, generated during the provision of care, belongs to the patient, as outlined in the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act (PIPEDA). The practice is responsible for secure and confidential storage and transfer of the information. Refer to the Data Stewardship module of the Best Advice guide: Advanced and Meaningful Use of EMRs50 for more information. Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement supports the RACE (Rapid Access to Consultative Expertise) and BASE eConsult services, which use telephone and web-based systems to connect patients with specialists.48 These programs have been successful and demonstrate that remote consultations can reduce wait times for accessing specialty care by enabling family physicians to more efficiently manage their patients in primary care settings. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 13 14 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 FUNCTIONS The functions describe the heart of the PMH and the care provided by PMH practices. These are the key elements that differentiate a PMH from other forms of primary care. A PMH offers: Accessible Care; Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability; Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership; Continuity of Care; and Patient- and Family-Partnered Care. ACCESSIBLE CARE PAGE 15 COMMUNITY ADAPTIVENESS & SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY PAGE 17 COMPREHENSIVE TEAM-BASED CARE WITH FAMILY PHYSICIAN LEADERSHIP PAGE 20 CONTINUITY OF CARE PAGE 23 PATIENT & FAMILY PARTNERED CARE PAGE 25 Equitable and ethical practices The CMA has identified equitable access to care as a key priority for reform in the health care system.53 Similarly, accessibility is a key component of the primary health care approach, which is advocated for by the CNA.54 Through the CNA’s Social Justice Gauge, and with the further development of the social justice initiative, the CNA maintains its position as a strong advocate for social justice and a leader in equitable and ethical practices in health care and public health.55 Pillar 4: Accessible Care A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 15 Accessible primary care is fundamental to a highperforming health care system and is considered by patients52 and other health care organizations as one of the most important characteristics of primary health care. For care to be accessible, all patients should have access to a family physician who acts as their most responsible provider and is supported by a team of qualified health professionals. Patients must be able to access medical care and treatment when needed. While most Canadians currently have a regular family doctor,4 it is important that the goal be for everyone in Canada to have access to their own family physicians. Accessible care is about more than just quick access to appointments. It does include timely access principles, but also advanced access, virtual access, and teambased approaches to care that ensure patients can be seen by the most appropriate provider when they need to be seen. Because visits occur for different reasons it is not useful to define appropriate wait times for each type of visit unlike in other areas of health care, such as surgery. Therefore, the focus in family practice should be on enhancing access to ensure patients can access care when they feel it is necessary. This is not to say that family physicians in a PMH must be on call 24/7/365, but that methods for patients to access care through the design of practice operations and scheduling should be given more attention. On the other hand, as patients are offered more choice (e.g., by phone or e-communication), they should also expect practices to establish realistic parameters for what is reasonable. Practices should communicate clearly about what kind of provider availability and response time is reasonable to expect depending on access method and availability of resources. Obtaining this understanding from a practice’s patients and striving to meet these expectations is a By adopting advanced and timely access, virtual access, and team-based approaches, accessible care ensures that patients can be seen quickly. 4.1 A PMH ensures patients have access to medical advice, and information on available care options 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 4.2 Every patient is registered with a PMH. 4.3 PMH practices offer scheduling options that ensure timely access to appropriate care. 4.4 When the patient’s personal family physician is unavailable, appointments are made with another physician, nurse, or other qualified health professional member of the PMH team. 4.5 Patients are able to participate in planning and evaluation of their medical home’s appointment booking system. 4.6 Panel sizes for providers in a PMH should be appropriate to ensure timely access to appointments and safe, high-quality care. After-hours care A Waterloo, Ontario, study found that providing after-hours clinical services reduced wait times, with services from other health care providers seen as a key for improving patient access.59 Accessible care Accessible care reduces redundancy and duplication of services (e.g., when a patient takes a later appointment and also consults another provider in the interim), improves health outcomes, leads to better patient and provider satisfaction, and reduces emergency visits.56–58 16 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 good way to maintain the patient-centred focus of the practice as described in Pillar 1: Administration and Funding. Significant shifts in providing alternative access must be supported by funding bodies. Same-day scheduling has been introduced in many PMH practices to better accommodate patient needs. Frequently referred to as doing “today’s work today,” advanced access offers the vast majority of patients the opportunity to book their appointments on the day they call regardless of the reason for the visit.60 Read more about same day scheduling in the Best Advice guide: Timely Access to Appointments in Family Practice.61 Whenever possible, patients should have clear reasons for the appointment at the time of booking. This ensures that adequate time is planned for each patient visit. If the need to address multiple problems arises, the problems can be triaged on the spot by one of the team and arrangements made to have these concerns dealt with in a timely manner either during the same visit or at another time. It is not always possible for patients to book appointments with their most responsible family physician. To ensure continuity, appointments can be made with other physicians or health care professionals in the team. The decision about who provides care in these cases is based on the patient’s needs, the availability of team members, and the scope of practice for each team member. In these cases, any relevant information from the appointment is communicated to the most responsible provider and taken into account in the long-term care of the patient. PMH practices can further meet patients’ needs through extended office hours, in which the responsibilities for coverage and care are shared by family physicians in one or more practices, as well as by increased involvement of other team members. PMH practices also provide their patients with email, after-hours telephone, and virtual services to guide them to the right place at the right time for the care they need. Appropriately directing patients to the next available appointment, or to a hospital or another emergency service, is critical to the effective management and sustainability of our health care system.62,63 A PMH can help ensure that patients are aware of where they can go to access care and health information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by providing this information to patients in person or via other systems (website, voice mail messages, etc.). In alignment with Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research, PMH practices offer opportunities for patients to provide feedback on the accessibility of the practice. Specifically, patients should have the opportunity to evaluate and provide input for the appointment booking system. Mechanisms and supports need to be in place to ensure that practices and governing bodies can review and respond to feedback appropriately and communicate this back to patients. Determining the optimal panel size for each PMH practice is critical to ensuring accessible and safe, high-quality care.64 Establishing and incorporating recommendations from the PMH vision may enable practices to consider increasing their panel size. Actual panel size will vary depending on the number of physicians and other team members in the practice, the practice’s obligations and A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 17 Social accountability refers to the family physicians’ obligation to meet the needs of Canada’s communities.66 For health care to be socially accountable, it must be accessible by everyone and responsive to the needs of patients, communities, and the broader population.4 This obligation is embedded in the Family Medicine Professional Profile and the Four Principles of Family Medicine, highlighting that family physicians are community-adaptive, responding to the needs of their patients and communities. These principles of family medicine align well with the principles of social accountability. Family practice is relationship-based care that embraces all issues of need and endures over time and place of care. A generalist keeps the whole in mind while attending to the individual parts, the system in mind when fixing individual problems, and the end in mind when commencing the journey. Tools exist to help family physicians and other health care providers enhance their skills and training regarding social accountability and cultural safety through many professional organizations and cross-Canada resource hubs like the National Collaborating Centre of Determinants of Health67 and the National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health,68 as examples. PMH practices are aware of how the SDoH influence the health of patients and communities. Family physicians are often the best-situated primary care professionals to act on Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability A PMH is accountable to its community, and meets their needs through interventions at the patient, practice, community, and policy level. 5.1 PMHs strive to assess and address the social determinants of health (e.g., income, education, housing, immigration status) as relevant for the individual, community, and policy levels. 5.2 Panel size will consider the community’s needs and patients’ safety. 5.3 PMHs use data about marginalized/at-risk populations to tailor their care, programming, and advocacy to meet unique community needs. 5.4 Family doctors in the PMH act as health advocates at the individual, community, and policy levels, using the CanMEDs–Family Medicine (CanMEDS-FM) Framework as a guide to advocacy and are supported in doing so. 5.5 Family doctors and team members within the PMH provide care that is anti-oppressive and culturally safe, seeking to mitigate the experiences of discrimination faced by many patients based on their age, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, etc. commitment to teaching and research, and the needs of the population being served (see Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability). When deciding panel size, each practice must determine how accepting more patients into the practice might impact the current population, the sustainability of the workload for physicians and other members of the PMH team, and the consequences of panel size on experience of care. Refer to the Best Advice guide: Panel Size for more information.65 issues that affect patients’ SDoH. Advocating for patients and the health care system overall is a natural part of a PMH structure. Advocacy can occur at three levels:69 Micro: In the immediate clinical environment, daily work with individual patients and predicated on the principles of caring and compassion Meso: In the local community, including the patient’s cultural community, the local community of medical providers, and the larger civic community, in which health professionals are citizens as well as practitioners Macro: In the humanitarian realm, where physicians are concerned with the welfare of their entire patient population and seek to improve human welfare through healthy public policy (such as reducing income inequality, supporting equitable and progressive taxation, and expanding the social safety net) The principles of advocacy in family practice are found in the CanMEDS–Family Medicine 201769 competency framework, under the Health Advocate role. The Best Advice guide: Social Determinants of Health70 describes how family physicians in the PMH can make advocacy a practical part of their practice. Poverty is a significant risk factor for chronic disease, mental illness, and other health conditions. Low income and other SDoH also present significant barriers to accessing care.71 To meet the needs of these patients, practices may need to extend hours, be more flexible and responsive, and spend additional time helping patients navigate and access necessary care. PMH practices consider other specific community needs when determining appropriate panel size. Demographics and health status of the patient population can influence the length and frequency of appointments needed, thereby impacting a physician’s caseload.65 For example, a PMH in a community with high rates of chronic conditions may need to reduce the panel size to provide timely and high-quality care, given that patients require more care time and resources. Similarly, a patient’s social situation may impact the time a family physician spends with them. Family physicians and team members may need to use a translator at clinical appointments, and may need to provide written resources in alternative languages, all factors affecting the time required to provide care. Enabling PMH practices to adjust panel size based on community needs requires governments to establish blended payment mechanisms. These remuneration systems ensure family physicians are adequately compensated, and are not financially disincentivized from spending the necessary time with patients (see Pillar 1: Administration and Funding, for more information). Social accountability and cultural competency Part of the response to being more socially accountable with care offered to the community resides within each and every health professional. While courses on cultural competency are now a standard part of medical education, physicians can take this learning further by seeking to reflect on, be aware of, and correct any unconscious biases that naturally forms and holds as a result of individual life experiences. Working to resolve implicit biases is a lifelong effort, but done diligently, can contribute to improving the quality of care provided,72 as well as the satisfaction of being an effective healer—of ourselves, our patients and our societies. Importance of social accountability Social accountability is a key value for health care organizations and professionals. For example, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College), Resident Doctors of Canada, and the Association of Faculties of Medicine amongst others, have adopted policies that highlight the importance social accountability within their organizations and the work they do. 18 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Family physicians and their PMH teams are situated at the nexus of individual and population health, and can engage with their patients in addressing health promotion and disease prevention in creative ways. From accompanying individual patients through teachable moments (e.g., the smoker with pneumonia ready to quit) to influencing civic policy to address homelessness, the stories entrusted to family physicians in daily practice are powerful tools for healthy change. These teams are also key providers in many important public health areas, including illness and injury prevention; health promotion; screening and managing chronic diseases; immunizations; and health surveillance. PMH practices prioritize delivering evidence-based care for illness and injury prevention and health promotion, reinforcing them at each patient visit and other counselling opportunities. PMHs and local or regional public health units should cultivate and maintain strong links with one another. Health care professionals who are part of PMH teams may take on advisory, educational, supportive, or active roles in public health initiatives, in many different occupational, educational, or recreational settings throughout the community. An effective public health system should be inextricably linked to communitybased family physicians and PMHs, recognizing and supporting them as essential to the achievement of the broader population and public health goals. While PMHs focus primarily on the care of individuals and their families, it is important for team members to understand and address the health challenges facing their practice populations and the larger community. These broader challenges represent upstream factors (SDoH) that have greater impact on the health of patients than do the efforts of individual physicians. However, the relationships embedded in individual and collective practices can be central to engaging patients and citizens in building more just and healthier communities and societies. For example, with the help of HIT, details about the needs of populations can be more easily accessed through extraction from practice EMRs, or participation in programs such as the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN).73 The CPCSSN networks collect health information from EMRs of participating primary care providers, extract anonymous data, and share information on chronic conditions with governments, health care providers, and researchers to help inform meaningful systems and practice change. Programs like the CPCSSN allow practices to better understand the needs of their communities and implement specific health promotion and prevention programs that can contribute to the population’s overall well-being. Initiatives like this also ensure the avoidance of data duplication, and recognise that practices do not need (or have the resources) to collect data on their own. However, these data are just a part of caring—the heart of generalism is keeping the whole in mind while attending to its parts, whether it is at the level of the whole patient, the whole family, or the whole society. To meet the needs of their diverse panel of patients, family physicians and other team members in the PMH work to provide anti-oppressive and culturally-safe care, seeking to mitigate experiences of discrimination faced by many patients based on their SDoH. This requires understanding how historical and current injustices have impacted the well-being of certain populations, and working to ensure a safe and welcoming practice environment by focusing on the principles of caring and compassion. Sociodemographic data benefits The FHT at St Michael’s Hospital routinely collects sociodemographic data on all patients. Patients are surveyed about income, housing status, gender identity, and other key SDoH factors, and their responses are integrated into the secure EMR. This information is used to inform and direct individualized patient-centred care. The data will also be used for planning and evaluating the FHT’s programs.74 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 19 Pillar 6: Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership Primary care practice teams Many allied health professional organizations have prioritized the importance of working together in a team to provide patients with the best possible care. The CFPC worked collaboratively with organizations—such as the CNA, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Dieticians of Canada—to create the Best Advice guide: Team-Based Care in the Patient’s Medical Home.75 The guide includes implementation strategies for creating a primary practice team, and general descriptions of roles found in a collaborative team. 20 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 A broad range of services is offered by an interprofessional team. The patient does not always see their family physician but interactions with all team members are communicated efficiently within a PMH. The team might not be co-located but the patient is always seen by a professional with relevant skills who can connect with a physician (ideally the patient’s own personal physician) as necessary. 6.1 A PMH includes one or more family physicians, who are the most responsible provider for their own panel of registered patients. 6.2 Family physicians with enhanced skills, along with other medical specialists, are part of a PMH team or network, collaborating with the patient’s personal family physician to provide timely access to a broad range of primary care and consulting services. 6.3 On-site, shared-care models to support timely medical consultations and continuity of care are encouraged and supported as part of each PMH. 6.4 The location and composition of a PMH’s team is flexible, based on community needs and realities; team members may be co-located or may function as part of virtual networks. 6.5 The personal family physician and nurse with relevant qualifications form the core of PMH teams, with the roles of others (including but not limited to physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, and chiropractors) encouraged and supported as needed. 6.6 Physicians, nurses, and other members of the PMH team are encouraged and supported in developing ongoing relationships with patients. Each care provider is recognized as a member of the patient’s personal medical home team. 6.7 Nurses and other health professionals in a PMH team will provide services within their defined roles, professional scopes of practice, and personally acquired competencies. Their roles providing both episodic and ongoing care support and complement—but do not replace—those of the family physician. Team-based care is a core function of the PMH. Building a team with a diverse mix of professional backgrounds creates an opportunity to redefine what is considered optimal, based on the needs of the practice and the community it serves. A high-performing team is essential to delivering more comprehensive, coordinated, and effective care centred on the patient’s needs. While different circumstances call for aspects of patient care to be provided by different health professionals, it is important to ensure that family physician expertise is available to all team members through consultation. To practice effectively in an interprofessional health care team, there must be a clear understanding of each member’s unique contributions, including educational background, scopes of practice and knowledge, and areas of excellence and limitations.76 Practices that draw on the expertise of a variety of team members are more likely to provide patients with the care they need and respond to community needs.77 Relationships across all dynamics within a practice, whether between a patient and family physician or between a patient and other members of the team, should be encouraged and supported in the PMH. Establishing these relationships develops trust and confidence, and works toward the ultimate goal of achieving better health outcomes. While it should be left to each practice to determine who does what (within the boundaries of professional scopes of practice), the most responsible provider for the medical care for each patient in the practice should be the patient’s personal family physician. Family physicians with enhanced skills and family physicians with focused practices play an important role in collaborating with the patient’s personal family physician and team to provide timely access to a range of primary care and consulting services. They supplement their core skills and experience with additional expertise in a particular field, while remaining committed to their core generalist principles.78 These doctors can draw extensively on their generalist training and approach to disease management and patient-centred care, enabling them to work collaboratively at different levels of care, including with other specialists, to meet patient needs.79 These clinicians also serve as a resource for other physicians in their local health system by enhancing care delivery and learning and teaching opportunities. The Best Advice guide: Communities of Practice in the Patient’s Medical Home80 provides more information about intraprofessional collaboration between family physicians. Shared care strategies provide patients with timely access to consultations with other specialists or family physicians with enhanced skills at scheduled times in the family practice office setting. The consultant might assess several patients per visit, at which time a plan for ongoing care can be developed and agreed to by the family physician, consultant, other team members, and the patient. There is no one-size-fits-all model when determining what mix of health care professionals is right. Team composition depends on the professional competencies, skills, and experiences needed to address the health needs of the patient population.81 These needs vary, depending on the communities’ defining characteristics; Additional members of practice teams Not all health care professionals in a team need to be hired as a full-time team member. For example, a practice can hire a dietician for specific days to lead a diabetes education program and see scheduled patients. Practices can also host other health care professionals, such as those employed with a regional health authority, to provide care to patients on-site. However, funding bodies should recognize that family practice clinics hosting other health care professionals often carry the overhead costs associated with these practitioners working on site, and further supports should be made available to ensure that costs do not unduly fall on the physicians. Pillar 1: Administration and Funding and Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure highlight that a PMH needs to be properly funded and have access to the right infrastructure (physical and governance) to support the initiatives described in this vision. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 21 22 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 for example, geography, culture, language, demographics, disease prevalence. Family physicians are encouraged to identify the gaps in health care provision in the local practice environment and work with other health care providers to meet those needs as much as possible. Data from EMRs—as well as input from patients, community members, and stakeholders—should inform team planning. Factors to consider include: Patient population Identified community health care needs Hours available for patient access Hours available for each physician to work Roles and number of non-physician providers Funds available81 Overlapping or variations of similar competencies can result in ambiguous expectations of what a defined role is within a practice. When teams are planned and developed, roles should be clearly outlined. This is best done at the local practice level relative to community needs and resources. This approach considers changes over the course of a health care professional’s career, including skills development, achievement of certifications, and professional interests.82 It is important to include time for team members to become comfortable in their role, at the outset of team-based care and with any changes to the team. It is also important to recognize that these arrangements are flexible and subject to change, provided the team engages in discussion and reaches consensus on needed adjustments. Team members might be in the same office or in the same building, but this is not necessary. For smaller and more remote practices, or larger urban centres where proximate physical space may be a barrier, some connections may be arranged with peers in other sites. Applying HIT judiciously allows for virtual referrals and consultations. Virtual links between PMH practices and other specialists, hospitals, diagnostic services, etc., can be enhanced with more formal agreements and commitments to provide timely access to care and services. By providing patients with a comprehensive array of services that best meet their needs, team-based care can lead to better access, higher patient and provider satisfaction, and greater resource efficiency.61,77,83 Although there are presently many systems in place that support the creation of health care teams, practices can also create a successful team on their own. To ensure team success, providers must have a clear understanding of the different role responsibilities and ensure that there are tools available to engage open dialogue and communication. Teams within the PMH are supported by a model that is flexible and adaptable to each situation. The skills that family physicians acquire during their training (as described in the CanMEDS-FM framework) make them well suited to provide leadership within interprofessional teams. As an important part of a PMH, teams are central to the concept of patient-centred care that is comprehensive, timely, and continuous. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 23 Pillar 7: Continuity of Care Continuity of care is defined by consistency over time related to where, how, and by whom each person’s medical care needs are addressed throughout the course of their life.84 With strong links to comprehensive team-based care (see Pillar 6: Comprehensive Team-Based Care with Family Physician Leadership), continuity of care is essential to any practice trying to deliver care truly centred on the needs of the patient. Continuity of care is rooted in a long-term patient-physician partnership in which the physician knows the patient’s history from experience and can integrate new information and decisions from a whole-person perspective efficiently without extensive investigation or record review.84 From the patient’s perspective, this includes understanding each person’s life journey and the context this brings to current health status, and the trust they have in their provider that is built over time. Past studies show that when the same physician attends to a person over time, for both minor and more serious health problems, the patient-physician relationship is strengthened and understanding grows—an essential element of effective primary health care.85 The personal physician offers their medical knowledge and expertise for a more complete understanding of the patient as a person, including the patient’s medical history and their broader social context, such as personal, family, social, and work histories (see Pillar 5: Community Adaptiveness and Social Accountability). In this model, patients, their families and/or personal caregivers, and all health care providers in the PMH team are partners in care, working together to achieve the patient’s goals and engaging in shared decision making. Understanding the patient’s needs, hopes, and fears, and their patterns of response to illness, medications, and other treatments, deepens the physician’s ability to respond to larger trends, not just the medical issue presented at any given appointment. Continuity of care can ideally support the health and well-being of patients actively and in their daily lives without focusing only on care when they are ill. The strong physician-patient relationship developed over time allows them to maintain good health and prevent illness and injury, as the physician uses their deep knowledge of their patient to work with teams of qualified health professionals to best support the patient’s well-being. Family physicians in the PMH, acting as the most responsible provider, can provide continuous care over the patient’s lifespan and develop strong relationships with patients. Research demonstrates that one of the most significant contributors to better population health is continuity of care.86,87 It found that those who see the same primary care physician continuously over time have better health outcomes, reduced emergency department use, and reductions in hospitalizations versus those who receive care from many different physicians. A Canadian study found that after controlling for demographics and health status, continuity of care was a predictor of decreased hospitalization for ambulatory caresensitive conditions (such as such as COPD, asthma, diabetes, and heart failure) and decreased emergency department visits for a wide range of family practicesensitive conditions.85 Overall “the more physicians patients see, the greater the likelihood of adverse effects; seeking care from multiple physicians in Patients live healthier, fuller lives when they receive care from a responsible provider who journeys with them and knows how their health changes over time. 7.1 The PMH enables and fosters long-term relationships between patients and the care team, thereby ensuring continuous care across the patient’s lifespan. 7.2 PMH teams ensure continuity of care is provided for their patients in different settings, including the family practice office, hospitals, long-term care and other community-based institutions, and the patient’s residence. 7.3 A PMH serves as the hub that ensures coordination and continuity of care related to all the medical services their patients receive throughout the medical community. the presence of high burdens of morbidity will be associated with a greater likelihood of adverse side effects.”86 It has been reported that a regular and consistent source of care is associated with better access to preventive care services, regardless of the patient’s financial status. Continuity of care also requires continuity in medical settings, information, and relationships. Having most medical services provided or coordinated in the same place by one’s personal family physician and team has been shown to result in better health outcomes.88 As described in Pillar 3: Connected Care, when care must be provided in different settings or by different health professionals (i.e., the medical neighbourhood), continuity can still be preserved if the PMH plays a coordination role and communicates effectively with other providers. The PMH liaises with external care providers to coordinate all aspects of care provided to patients based on their needs. This includes but is not limited to submitting and following up on referrals to specialized services, coordinating home care, and working with patients before and after discharge from hospitals or other critical care centres. In addition to this coordination role, the PMH acts as a hub by sharing, collecting, storing, and acting as a steward for all relevant patient information. This ensures that the family physician, as the most responsible provider, has a complete overview of the patient’s history. A record of care provided for each patient should be available in each medical record (preferably through an EMR) and available to all appropriate care providers (see Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure for more information about EMRs). Knowing that medical information from all sources (i.e., providers inside and outside the PMH) is consolidated in one location (physical or virtual) increases the comfort and trust of patients regarding their care. Continuity for patient health Research demonstrates that continuity of care is a key contributor to overall population health. Patients with a regular family physician experience better health outcomes and fewer hospitalizations as compared to those without.69 24 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Pillar 8: Patient- and Family-Partnered Care External factors for patient health care Patient- and family-partnered care is considered a key value to stakeholders across the health care system. In 2011, the CMA and the CNA released a set of principles to guide the transformation of Canada’s health care system.91 Patient-centred care is listed as the first principle, and as a key component of improving the overall health care experience.91 Similarly, in 2016 Patients Canada called on all levels of government to ensure that patients are at the centre of any new health accords and future health care reform.92 * Family caregivers include relatives, partners, friends, neighbours, and other community members. Patient-centred care is at the core of the PMH. Dr. Ian McWhinney—often considered the “father of family medicine”—describes patient-centred care as the provider “enter[ing] the patient’s world, to see the illness through the patient’s eyes … [It] is closely congruent with and responsive to patients’ wants, needs and preferences.”89 In this model, patients, their families and/ or personal caregivers, and all health care providers in the PMH team are partners in care, working together to achieve the patient’s goals and engaging in shareddecision making. Care should always reflect the patient’s feelings and expectations and meet their individual needs. Refer to the Best Advice guide: Patient-Centred Care in a Patient’s Medical Home90 for more information. Family caregivers* play an important role in the PMH. They help patients manage and cope with illness and can assist physicians by acting as a reliable source of health information and collaborating to develop and enact treatment plans.93 The level and type of engagement from family caregivers should always be determined by the patient. Physicians “should routinely assess the patient’s wishes regarding the nature and degree of caregiver participation in the clinical encounter and strive to provide the patient’s desired level of privacy.”94 They should revisit this conversation regularly and make changes based on patient desires. PMH practices focus on providing patient-centred care and ensuring that family caregivers are included. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 25 Family practices respond to the unique needs of patients and their families within the context of their environment. 8.1 Care and care providers in a PMH are patient-focused and provide services that respond to patients’ feelings, preferences, and expectations. 8.2 Patients, their families, and their personal caregivers are active participants in the shared-decision making process. 8.3 A PMH facilitates patients’ access to their medical information through electronic medical records as agreed upon with their care team. 8.4 Self-managed care is encouraged and supported as part of the care plans for each patient. 8.5 Strategies that encourage access to a range of care options beyond the traditional office visits (e.g., telehealth, virtual care, mobile health units, e-consult, etc.) are incorporated into the PMH. 8.6 Patient participation and formalized feedback mechanisms (e.g., patient advisory councils, patient surveys) are part of ongoing planning and evaluation. As part of their commitment to patient-centred care, PMH practices facilitate and support patient self-management. Self-management interventions such as support for decision making, self-monitoring, and psychological and social support, have been demonstrated to improve health outcomes.95 PMH team members should always consider recommendations for care from the patient’s perspective. They should work collaboratively with patients and their caregivers to develop realistic action plans and teach problem-solving and coping. This is particularly important for those with chronic conditions, who must work in partnership with their physician and health care team to manage their condition over time. (Refer to the Best Advice guide: Chronic Care Management in a Patient’s Medical Home96 for more information). The goal of self-managed care should be to build the patient’s and caregiver’s confidence in their ability to deal effectively with illnesses, improve health outcomes, and foster overall well-being. To facilitate patient- and family-partnered care, a range of user-friendly options for accessing information and care beyond the traditional office visit should be available to patients when appropriate. These include email, telehealth, virtual care, mobile health units, e-consults, home visits, same-day scheduling, group visits, self-care strategies, patient education, and treatment sessions offered in community settings. Providing a range of options allows patients to access the type of care they prefer based on individual needs. Patients also need to be informed about how they can access information and resources available to them; for example, resources such as Prevention in Hand (PiH).97 Allowing patients to access to their medical records can improve patient-provider communication and increase patient satisfaction.98,99 The specific information accessible to patients should be discussed and agreed upon by the patient and their care team. Patient education about accessing and interpreting the available information is necessary. Facilitating this type of access requires each PMH to have an EMR system that allows external users to access information securely (see Pillar 2: Appropriate Infrastructure). Patient surveys and opportunities for patients to participate in planning and evaluating the effectiveness of the practice’s services should be encouraged; practices must be willing respond and adapt to patient feedback. To strengthen a patient-centred approach, practices may consider developing patients’ advisory councils or other formalized feedback mechanisms (e.g., using patient surveys) as part of their CQI processes (see Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research). Patient self-management The Ajax Harwood Clinic (AHC) is a good example of how a practice that enables patient self-management can improve long-term health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions.94 The AHC has created an environment of learning and seeks to encourage health literacy among its patients through its various programs. The clinic is focused on patient education and empowerment, and all programs at the clinic are free of charge to patients to remove financial barriers to access. 26 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 27 ONGOING DEVELOPMENT Each PMH strives for ongoing development to better achieve the core functions. The PMH and its staff are committed to Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research; and Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development. MEASUREMENT, CONTINUOUS QUALITY IMPROVEMENT, AND RESEARCH PAGE 28 TRAINING, EDUCATION, AND CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PAGE 30 28 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Continuous quality improvement CQI is an important value among health organizations such as the CFHI.100 Pillar 9: Measurement, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Research CQI is an essential characteristic of the PMH vision. It encourages health care teams to make practical improvements to their practice, while monitoring the effectiveness of their services, the health outcomes and safety of their patients, and the satisfaction of both patients and the health professionals on the team. Every PMH is committed to establishing a CQI program that will improve patient safety, and enhance efficiency and quality of the services provided to patients. As part of CQI activities, a structured approach is used to evaluate current practice processes and improve systems and to achieve desired outcomes. To engage in CQI, the PMH team must identify the desired outcomes and determine appropriate evaluation strategies. Once the process and the desired outcome are defined with patients, the CQI activity will track performance through data collection and comparison with the baseline. Performance measures can be captured through structured observation, patient and staff surveys (see Pillar 8: Patient- and Family- Partnered Care), the PMH self-assessment tool, and the practice’s EMR (see Pillar 1: Administration and Funding and Pillar 3: Connected Care). The indicators selected should be appropriate to each practice and community setting, be meaningful to the patients and community, and the CQI process could be introduced as a practice’s self-monitoring improvement program or as an assessment carried out by an external group. In some jurisdictions, funding is tied to achieving performance targets, including those that provide evidence for the delivery of more cost-effective care and better health outcomes.101 Some provinces in Canada have begun to link financial incentives to clinical outcomes and targets that have been achieved (“pay for performance” models).102 Although there may be some benefits derived by this approach, there can also be risks if funding incentives and resource supports become overly focused on patients with certain medical problems or on those who have greater potential to reach prescribed targets, while at the same time care is being delayed or denied for others.101,103 Future development A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 28 Family practices strive for progress through performance measurement and CQI. Patient safety is always a focus, and new ideas are brought to the fore through patient engagement in QI and research activities. 9.1 PMHs establish and support CQI programs that evaluate the quality and cost effectiveness of teams and the services they provide for patient and provider satisfaction. 9.2 Results from CQI are applied and used to enhance operations, services, and programs provided by the PMH. 9.3 All members of the health professional team (both clinical and support teams), as well as trainees and patients, will participate in the CQI activity carried out in each PMH. 9.4 PMHs support their physicians, other health professionals, students, and residents to initiate and participate in research carried out in their practice settings. 9.5 PMHs function as ideal sites for community-based research focused on patient health outcomes and the effectiveness of care and services. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 29 of financial incentive models should consider these unintended consequences that might impair the ability of practices to provide good quality patient care to their full population. The objectives that define a PMH could be used to develop the indicators for CQI initiatives in family practices across Canada. These criteria could be augmented by indicators recommended by organizations such as Accreditation Canada, Health Quality Ontario, Health Standards Organization, and the Patient-Centered Medical Home model in the United States. The CFPC is committed to collaborating with these groups to further develop the CQI process for PMHs and family practices. Consult the CFPC’s Practice Improvement Initiative (Pii)104 for a list of available resources. CQI is a team activity and should involve all members of the PMH team as well as patients and trainees. This will ensure buy-in from the team, allow for patient engagement and participation, and provide trainees with valuable learning opportunities.105 PMHs are committed to using the results of CQI initiatives to make tangible changes in their practice to improve operations, services, and programs. Time and effort invested into participation in CQI activities should be recognized as valuable and not be disincentivized through existing remuneration models. Dedicated time and capacity to perform these activities should be built into the practice operational principles. On a larger scale, PMHs function as ideal sites for community-based research focused on patient health outcomes and the effectiveness of care and services. The PMH team should be encouraged and supported to participate in research activities. They should also advocate for medical students, residents, and trainees to take part in these projects. In Canada, the Canadian Primary Healthcare Research Network (CPHRN) and the commitment of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s (CIHR’s) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) are vitally important.106 The focus on supporting patient-oriented research carried out in community primary care settings is consistent with the priorities of the PMH. Competitions for research grants such as those announced by SPOR should be strongly encouraged and supported. PMHs are ideal laboratories for studies that embrace the principles of comparative effectiveness research (CER) and the priorities defined by the CPHRN and CIHR’s SPOR project. They provide excellent settings for multi-site research initiatives, including projects like those currently undertaken by the CPCSSN—a nationwide network of family physicians conducting surveillance of various chronic diseases. 30 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 Pillar 10: Training, Education, and Continuing Professional Development PMH practices serve as training sites for medical students, family medicine residents, and those training to become nurses and other health care professionals.107 They create space for modelling and teaching practices focused on the essential roles of family physicians and interprofessional teams as part of the continuum of a health care system. One of the goals of family medicine residency training is for residents to learn to function as a member of an interdisciplinary team, caring for patients in a variety of settings including family practice offices, hospitals, long-term care and other communitybased institutions, and patients’ residences.70,108 A PMH also models making research and QI initiatives a standard feature of a family practice. Professional development and opportunities to participate in these activities should be available and supported within PMH practices through resources, guidance, and specifically dedicated time. Family medicine training is increasingly focused on achieving and maintaining competencies defined by the CFPC’s Triple C Family Medicine Curriculum.109 Triple C includes five domains of care: care of patients across the life cycle; care across clinical settings (urban and rural); a defined spectrum of clinical responsibilities; care of marginalized/disadvantaged patients and populations; and a defined list of core procedures. Triple C also incorporates the Four Principles of Family Medicine and the CanMEDS-FM Roles. PMHs allow family medicine students and residents to achieve the competencies of the Triple C curriculum and to learn how to incorporate the Four Principles of Family Medicine, the Family Medicine Professional Profile, and the CanMEDS-FM roles into their professional lives. Learners gain experience with patient-partnered care, teams/networks, EMRs, timely access to appointments, comprehensive continuing care, management of undifferentiated and complex problems, coordination of care, practice-based research, and CQI—essential elements of family practice in Canada. Furthermore, PMH practices serve as optimal sites for trainees in other medical specialties and health professions to gain valuable experience working in interprofessional teams and providing high quality, patient-centred care. Medical schools and residency programs should encourage learners to conduct some of their training within PMH practices. Emphasis on training and education ensures that the knowledge and expertise of family physicians can be shared with the broader health care community, and also over time by creating learning organizations where both students and fully practising family physicians can stay at the forefront of best practice. 10.1 PMHs are identified and supported by medical and other health professional schools as optimal locations for the experiential training of their students and residents. 10.2 PMHs teach and model their core defining elements including patient-partnered care, teams/networks, EMRs, timely access to appointments, comprehensive continuing care, management of undifferentiated and complex problems, coordination of care, practice-based research, and CQI. 10.3 PMHs provide a training environment for family medicine residents that models, and enables residents to achieve, the competencies as defined by the Triple C Competency-based Family Medicine Curriculum, the Four Principles of Family Medicine, and the CanMEDS-FM Roles. 10.4 PMHs will enable physicians and other health professionals to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) to meet the needs of their patients and their communities both individually and as a team. 10.5 PMHs enable family physicians to share their knowledge and expertise with the broader health care community. Practising family physicians must engage in CPD to keep current on medical and health care developments and to ensure their expertise reflects the changing needs of their patients, communities, and learners. Mainpro+® (Maintenance of Proficiency) is the CFPC’s program designed to support and promote family physicians’ CPD across all CanMEDS-FM Roles and competencies. CPD refers to physicians’ professional obligation to engage in learning activities that address their own identified needs and the needs of their patients; enhance knowledge, skills, and competencies across all dimensions of professional practice; and continuously improve their performance and health care outcomes within their scope of practice.110 Three foundational principles for CPD in Canada have been recently described: Socially responsive to the needs of patients and communities Informed by scientific evidence and practicebased data Designed to achieve improvement in physician practice and patient outcomes CPD is inclusive of learning across all CanMEDS-FM Roles and competencies, including clinical expertise, teaching and education, research and scholarship, and in practice-based QI. PMH practices support their physicians, and all other staff members, to engage in CPD activities throughout their careers by creating a learning culture in the organization. This includes providing protected time for learning and team-based learning, and access to practice data both to discern patient/community need and practice gaps to inform CPD choices and to evaluate the impact of learning on patient care. This learning culture and the will to be constantly improving quality and access to care is essential to ensuring that the PMH continues to support high performing care teams. To ensure that all PMH team members have the capacity to take on their required roles, leadership development programs should be offered. Enabling physicians to engage in this necessary professional development requires sufficient funding by governments to cover costs of training and financial support to ensure lost income and practice capacity do not prevent this. Physicians in the PMH share their knowledge with colleagues in the broader health care community and with other health care professionals in the team by participating in education, training, and QI activities in collaboration with the pentagram partners.† This is particularly relevant for family physicians who are focused on a particular area of practice (possibly holding a Certificate of Added Competence) and are able to share their extended expertise with others. This can happen either informally or through more official channels. For example, physicians may participate in activities organized by the CFPC or provincial Chapters (e.g., Family Medicine Forum, provincial family medicine annual scientific assemblies), or lend their expertise to interprofessional working groups addressing specific topics in health care. Family physicians should be encouraged to engage in these types of events to share their knowledge and skills for the betterment of the overall health system. Continuing professional development CPD is an integral value across the entire health care system. Organizations such as the Royal College, CMA, and CNA emphasize the value and importance of continuing education for health care professionals to improve patient care. † Pentagram partners: policy-makers—federal, provincial, territorial, and regional health authorities; health and education administrators; university; community; health professionals—physicians and teams A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 31 32 A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 CONCLUSION The revised PMH vision of a high-functioning primary care system responds to the rapidly evolving health system and the changing needs of Canadians. The pillars and attributes described in this document can guide practices at various stages in the transition to a PMH, and many characteristics are found in other foundational documents of family medicine such as the Family Medicine Professional Profile111 and the Four Principles of Family Medicine. Supporting resources, such as the PMH Implementation Kit, are available to help those new to the transition overcome barriers to change. Although the core components of the PMH remain the same for all practices, each practice will implement the recommendations according to their unique needs. The PMH is focused on enhancing patient-centredness in the health care system through collaboration, access, continuity, and social accountability. It is intended to build on the long-standing historical contribution of family physicians and primary care to the health and wellbeing of Canadians, as well as on the emerging models of family practice and primary care that have been introduced across the country. Importantly, this vision provides goals and recommendations that can serve as indicators. It enables patients, family physicians, other care health professionals, researchers, health planners, and policy-makers evaluate the effectiveness of any and all models of family practice throughout Canada. Those family practices that meet the goals and recommendations described in this vision will have become PMHs, but the concept is ever evolving. As family physicians commit to making change in their practices, the CFPC commits to supporting developments in the PMH by creating and promoting new resources, which will be available through the PMH website. 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CMA Position Statement: Ensuring Equitable Access to Care: Strategies for Government, Health System Planners and the Medical Profession. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Medical Association; 2014. Available from: www.cma.ca/sites/default/files/2018-11/PD14-04-e.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 54. Canadian Nurses Association. Position Statement: Primary Health Care. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Nurses Association; 2015. Available from: www.cna-aiic. ca/-/media/cna/page-content/pdf-en/primary-health-care-position-statement. pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 55. Canadian Nurses Association. Social Justice … a means to an end, an end in itself; 2nd edition. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Nurses Association; 2010. Available from: www.cna-aiic.ca/~/media/cna/page-content/pdf-en/social_justice_2010_e. pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 56. Barry DW, Melhado TV, Chacko KM, Lee RS, Steiner J, Kutner JS. Patient and physician perceptions of timely access to care. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(2):130-133. 57. Glass DP, Kanter M, Jacobsen SJ, Minardi PM. The impact of improving access to primary care. J Eval Clin Pract. 2017;23(6):1451-1458. 58. Hudec JC, MacDougall S, Rankin E. Advanced access appointments: effects on family physician satisfaction, physicians’ office income, and emergency department use. Can Fam Phys. 2010;56(10):e361-e367. 59. Stalker CA. How have physicians and patients at New Vision Family Health Team experienced the shift to a family health team model? Final Report. Unpublished; 2010. 60. Murray M, Tantau C. Same-day appointments: exploding the access paradigm. Fam Pract Manag. 2000;7(8):45-50. 61. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Timely Access to Appointments in Family Practice. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2012. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/ resources/best-advice-guides/best-advice-guide-timely-access/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 62. Lemire F. First contact: what does it mean for family practice in 2017? Can Fam Phys. 2017;63(3):256. 63. Williams DL. Balancing rationalities: gatekeeping in health care. J Med Ethics. 2001;27(1):25-29. 64. Murray M, Davies M, Boushon B. Panel size: How many patients can one doctor manage? Fam Pract Manag. 2007;14(4):44-51. 65. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Panel Size. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2012. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/resources/best-advice-guides/bestadvice- guide-panel-size/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 66. Buchman S, Woollard R, Meili R, Goel R. Practising social accountability. Can Fam Phys. 2016; 62(1):15-18. 67. National Collaborating Centre of Determinants of Health website. www.nccdh. ca/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 68. National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health website. www.nccahccnsa. ca/en/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 69. College of Family Physicians of Canada. CanMEDS–Family Medicine 2017: A competency framework for family physicians across the continuum. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2017. Available from: www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Resources/Resource_Items/Health_ Professionals/CanMEDS-Family-Medicine-2017-ENG.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 70. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Social Determinants of Health. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2017. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/resources/bestadvice- guides/best-advice-guide-social-determinants-health/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 71. Lightman E, Mitchell A, Wilson B. Poverty is making us sick: A comprehensive survey of income and health in Canada. Toronto, ON: The Wellesley Institute; 2008. Available from: www.wellesleyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ povertyismakingussick.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 18. 72. White AA 3rd, Logghe HJ, Goodenough DA, Barnes LL, Hallward A, Allen IM, et al. Self-Awareness and Cultural Identity as an Effort to Reduce Bias in Medicine. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2018;5(1):34-49. 73. Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network website. http://cpcssn. ca/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 74. Pinto AD, Bloch G. Framework for building primary care capacity to address the social determinants of health. Can Fam Phys. 2017;63(11):e476-482. A NEW VISION FOR CANADA Family Practice— The Patient’s Medical Home 2019 35 75. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Team-Based Care in the Patient’s Medical Home. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2017. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/resources/ best-advice-guides/best-advice-guide-team-based-care-patients-medical-home/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 76. Grant R, Finocchio L, Pew Health Professions Commission, California Primary Care Consortium. Interdisciplinary collaborative teams in primary care: a model curriculum and resource guide. San Francisco, CA: Pew Health Professions Commission; 1995. 77. Schottenfeld L, Petersen D, Peikes D, Ricciardi R, Burak H, McNellis R, et al. Creating Patient-Centered Team-Based Primary Care. AHRQ Pub. No. 16- 0002-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2016. 78. Department of Health. Part 3: The accreditation of GPs and Pharmacists with Special Interests, In: Implementing care closer to home: Convenient quality care for patients. London, UK: Department of Health; 2007. Available from: www.pcc-cic.org.uk/sites/default/files/articles/attachments/improved_quality_ of_care_p3_accreditation.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 79. Department of Health. Part 1: Introduction and overview, In: Implementing care closer to home: Convenient quality care for patients. London, UK: Department of Health; 2007. Available from: www.pcc-cic.org.uk/sites/default/ files/articles/attachments/improved_quality_of_care_p1_introduction.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 80. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Communities of Practice in the Patient’s Medical Home. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2016. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome. ca/resources/best-advice-guides/communities-practice-patients-medicalhome/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 81. Dinh T. Improving Primary Health Care Through Collaboration: Briefing 2— Barriers to Successful Interprofessional Teams. Ottawa, ON: The Conference Board of Canada; 2012. Available from: www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/ abstract.aspx?did=5181&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 82. Nelson S, Turnbull J, Bainbridge L, Caulfield T, Hudon G, Kendel D, et al. Optimizing Scopes of Practice: New Models for a New Health Care System. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Academy of Health Sciences; 2014. 83. Mautner DB, Pang H, Brenner JC, Shea JA, Gross KS, Frasso R, et al. Generating hypotheses about care needs of high utilizers: lessons from patient interviews. Popul Health Manag. 2013;16(Suppl1):S26-33. 84. American Academy of Family Physicians. Definition of Continuity of Care website. www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/definition-care.html. Accessed 2018 July 25. 85. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Continuity of Care With Family Medicine Physicians: Why It Matters. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Institute for Health Information; 2015. Available from: https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/UPC_ ReportFINAL_EN.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 86. Starfield B, Chang HY, Lemke KW, Weiner JP. Ambulatory specialist use by nonhospitalized patients in us health plans: correlates and consequences. J Ambul Care Manage. 2009;32(3):216-25. 87. Pereira Gray DJ, Sidaway-Lee K, White E, Thorne A, Evans PH. Continuity of care with doctors-a matter of life and death? A systematic review of continuity of care and mortality. BMJ Open. 2018;8(6):e021161. 88. Starfield B, Shi L. The medical home, access to care, and insurance: a review of evidence. Pediatrics. 2004;113(Supplement 4):1495. 89. McWhinney I. The Need for a Transformed Clinical Method. In: Communicating with Medical Patients. London, UK: Sage; 1989:25. 90. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Patient-Centred Care in a Patient’s Medical Home. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2014. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome. ca/resources/best-advice-guides/best-advice-guide-patient-centredness/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 91. Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association. Principles to Guide Health Care Transformation in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Medical Association; 2011. 92. Patients Canada. Why we need a Health Accord with Patients at the Centre [news release]. Toronto, ON: Patients Canada; 2016. Available from: https:// patientscanada.ca/2016/01/18/why-we-need-a-health-accord-with-patients-atthe- centre/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 93. Omole FS, Sow CM, Fresh E, Babalola D, Strothers H. Interacting with patients’ family members during the office visit. Am Fam Physician. 2011; 84(7): 780-784. 94. Mitnick S, Leffler C, Hood VL; American College of Physicians Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee. Family caregivers, patients and physicians: ethical guidance to optimize relationships. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25(3):255-60. 95. Panagioti M, Richardson G, Small N, Murray E, Rogers A, Kennedy A, et al. Self-management support interventions to reduce health care utilisation without compromising outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Health Serv Res. 2014;14:356. 96. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Best Advice guide: Chronic Care Management in a Patient’s Medical Home. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2016. Available from: https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/ resources/best-advice-guides/best-advice-guide-chronic-care-managementpatients- medical-home/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 97. Prevention in Hand website. www.preventioninhand.com. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 98. Kruse CS, Argueta DA, Lopez L, Nair A. Patient and provider attitudes toward the use of patient portals for the management of chronic disease: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(2):e40. 99. Kruse CS, Bolton K, Freriks G. The effect of patient portals on quality outcomes and its implications to meaningful use: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(2):e44. 100. Health Council of Canada. Which way to quality? Key perspectives on quality improvement in Canadian health care systems. Toronto, ON: Health Council of Canada; 2013. Available from: https://healthcouncilcanada.ca/files/ QIReport_ENG_FA.pdf. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 101. Mattison CA, Wilson MC. Rapid Synthesis: Examining the Effects of Valuebased Physician Payment Models. Hamilton, ON: McMaster Health Forum; 2017. Available from: www.mcmasterforum.org/docs/default-source/productdocuments/ rapid-responses/examining-the-effects-of-value-based-physicianpayment- models.pdf?sfvrsn=2. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. \ 102. Kaczorowski J, Hearps SJ, Lohfeld L, Goeree R, Donald F, Burgess K, et al. Effect of provider and patient reminders, deployment of nurse practitioners, and financial incentives on cervical and breast cancer screening rates. Can Fam Phys. 2013; 59(6): e282-9. 103. Hutchison B. Pay for performance in primary care: proceed with caution, pitfalls ahead. Healthc Policy. 2008; 4(1): 10-15. 104. College of Family Physicians of Canada. The Practice Improvement Initiative (Pii) website. www.cfpc.ca/pii/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 105. Ontario College of Family Physicians. Advancing Practice Improvement in Primary Care – Final Report. Toronto, ON: Ontario College of Family Physicians; 2015. Available from: https://ocfp.on.ca/docs/default-source/ default-document-library/hqo_final_report_advancing_practice_improvement_in_ primary_care.pdf?sfvrsn=d793f489_4. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 106. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research website. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/41204.html. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 107. Hasley PB, Simak D, Cohen E, Buranosky R. Training residents to work in a patient-centered medical home: What are the outcomes? J Grad Med Educ. 2016; 8(2): 226-231. 108. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Specific Standards for Family Medicine Residency Programs – The Red Book. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2016. 109. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Triple C Competency Based Curriculum website. www.cfpc.ca/Triple_C/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22. 110. Filipe HP, Silva ED, Stulting AA, Golnik KC. Continuing professional development: Best practices. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2014; 21(2): 134-141. 111. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Family Medicine Professional Profile website. www.cfpc.ca/fmprofile/. Accessed 2019 Jan 22.
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Acting on today's and tomorrow's health care needs: Prebudget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14123
Date
2019-08-02
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2019-08-02
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to provide the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance this pre-budget submission. It provides recommendations to address major pan-Canadian challenges to the health of Canadians: improve how we provide care to our growing elderly population; improve access to primary care across the country; increase digital health literacy to take advantage of the benefits of new health information technologies; and better prepare for and mitigate the health impacts of a changing climate on Canadians. Seniors Care Health systems across the country are currently struggling to meet the needs of our aging population. People aged 85 years and over—many of whom are frail—make up the fastest growing age group in Canadai. Provincial and territorial health care systems (as well as care systems for populations falling under federal jurisdiction) are facing many challenges to meet the needs of an aging population. Canadians support a strong role for the federal government in leading a national seniors strategy and working with the provinces to ensure that all Canadians have the same level of access and quality of services, no matter where they live. The 2017 federal/provincial/territorial funding agreement involving $6 billion over 10 years to improve access to home care services is a welcomed building block. But without greater investment in seniors care, health systems will not keep up. To be truly relevant and effectively respond to Canadians’ present and future needs, our health care system must provide integrated, continuing care able to meet the chronic and complex care needs of our growing and aging population. This includes recognizing the increased role for patients and their caregivers in the care process. The federal government must ensure transfers are able to keep up with the real cost of health care. Current funding levels clearly fail to do so. Health transfers are estimated to rise by 3.6% while health care costs are expected to rise by 5.1% annually over the next decade.ii Recommendation: The federal government ensure provincial and territorial health care systems meet the care needs of their aging populations by means of a demographic top-up to the Canada Health Transfer.iii Providing care often comes with a financial cost such as lost income due to the caregiver’s withdrawal from the workforce to provide care. There are also increasing out-of-pocket costs for both caregivers and care receivers for health care-related expenses—privately covered expenditures on home and long-term care for seniors are projected to grow by an average of 5.8 per cent annually—nearly 1.5 times the pace of household disposable income growth. While the federal government offers tax credits that can be claimed by care receivers/caregivers, they are significantly under-utilized. While representing a significant proportion of caregivers, those with low or no income receive little to no federal government support through these programs. Middle-income earners also receive less than those earning high incomes. 4 Recommendation: The federal government create a Seniors Care Benefit that would be an easier, fairer and more effective way to support caregivers and care receivers alike.iv Access to Care Since the mid-1990s, the federal and provincial/territorial governments (FPT) have provided sustained leadership in promoting and supporting the transformation of primary care in Canada. In 2000, the First Ministers concluded the first of three Health Accords in which they agreed to promote the establishment of primary health care teamsv supported by a $800 million Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF) funded by the federal government, but jointly governed. The PHCTF resulted in large-scale sustained change in primary care delivery models in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta with interest in other jurisdictions as well. However, the job is far from finished. Across Canada, access to primary care is challenging for many Canadians with a persistent shortage of family physicians. In 2017, 4.7 million Canadians aged 12+ reported they did not have a regular health care provider.vi Even those who have a regular provider experience wait time issues. There has been widespread interest in primary care models since the development of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s (CFPC) vision document Family Practice: The Patient’s Medical Home (PMH), initially launched in 2011vii and recently re-launched.viii The model is founded on 10 pillars depicted in Figure 1. Figure 1. The Patient’s Medical Home, 2019 The updated model places increased emphasis on team-based care and introduces the concept of the patient’s medical neighborhood that sets out connections between the primacy care practice and all delivery points in the surrounding community. While comprehensive baseline data are lacking, it seems 5 safe to conjecture that most Canadians are not enrolled in a primary care model that would measure up to the model’s 10 pillars. Recommendation: The federal government, in concert with provinces and territories, establish a targeted fund in the amount of $1.2 billion to support a new time-limited Primary Health Care Transition Fund that would build on the success of the fund launched in 2000 with the goal of widely introducing a sustainable medical home model across jurisdictions. This would include the following key elements:
Age-sex-weighted per capita allocation across the provinces and territories;
Joint governance of the FPT governments with meaningful stakeholder engagement;
Respect for the Canada Health Act principles;
Common objectives (e.g., modeled on the CFPC Patient’s Medical Home framework);
Operating Principles specifying eligible/ineligible activities;
Reporting provisions and agreed-upon metrics; and
Sustainability plans. Digital/Virtual Care Canada and most industrialized countries will experience a digital health revolution over the next decade with great potential to improve patient and population health. Digital health can be described as the integration of the electronic collection and compilation of health data, decision support tools and analytics with the use of audio, video and other technologies to deliver preventive, diagnostic and treatment services that promote patient and population health. While most Canadian physicians’ offices and health care facilities are now using some form of electronic record keeping and most households have internet access, there remains a large deficit in using virtual care, both within jurisdictions and across provincial/territorial boundaries. Recently the CMA, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada established a Virtual Care Task Force to identify opportunities for digital health to improve health care delivery, including what regulatory changes are required for physicians to deliver care to patients within and across provincial/territorial boundaries. To take full advantage of digital health capabilities it will be essential for the population to have a functional level of digital health literacy: the ability to seek, find, understand and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem.ix This also includes the capability of communicating about one’s health to health care professionals (e.g., e-consults), self-monitoring health (e.g., patient portals) and receiving treatment online (e.g., Web-based cognitive behavioral therapy).x There are no current data available on health literacy in Canada, let alone digital health literacy. One basic barrier to achieving digital health literacy is access to, and usage of the Internet, which has been termed the “digital divide” (e.g., older Canadians and low income households are less likely to have Internet access).Error! Bookmark not defined. 6 In 2001 the federal government established the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Its mandate includes informing consumers about their rights and responsibilities in dealing with financial institutions and providing information and tools to help consumers understand and shop for financial products and services.xi In 2014 the FCAC appointed a Financial Literacy Leader who has focused on financial literacy, including activities such as conducting financial capability surveys and the development of a National Strategy for Financial Literacy.xii Considering the anticipated growth of digital/virtual care it would be desirable to understand and promote digital health literacy across Canada. What the federal government has done for financial literacy could serve as a template for digital health literacy. Recommendation: The federal government establish a Digital Health Literacy Secretariat to:
Develop indicators and conducting surveys to measure and track the digital health literacy of Canadians;
Develop tools that can be used both by Canadians and their health care providers to enhance their digital health literacy; and
Assess and make recommendations on the “digital divide” that may exist among some population sub-groups due to a lack of access to information technology and lower digital health literacy. Climate Change and Health Climate change is the public health imperative of our time. There is a high level of concern among Canadians about their changing climate. A 2017 poll commissioned by Health Canada demonstrates a high level of concern among Canadians about their changing climate: 79% were convinced that climate change is happening, and of these, 53% accepted that it is a current health risk, with 40% believing it will be a health risk in the future. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified air pollution and climate change as one of the biggest threats to global health. Health care professionals see first-hand the devastating health impacts of our changing climate including increased deaths from fine particulate matter air pollution and increased heat-related conditions. Impacts are most common in vulnerable populations such as adults over 65 years, the homeless, urban dwellers and people with a pre-existing disease. Canada’s health care system is already treating the health effects of climate change. A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of Canada’s health system, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services, not to mention the economic and social costs. The federal government must provide leadership to deal with the impact already being felt in Canada and around the world. Recommendation: 7 The federal government make strong commitments to minimize the impact of climate change on the health of Canadians by:
Ensuring pan-Canadian and inter-jurisdictional coordination to standardize surveillance and reporting of climate-related health impacts such as heat-related deaths, develop knowledge translation strategies to inform the public, and generate clinical and public health response plans that minimize the health impacts;
Increasing funding for research on the mental health impacts of climate change and psychosocial adaptation opportunities; and
Ensuring funding is provided to the health sector to prepare for climate change impacts through efforts to increase resiliency (i.e., risk assessments, readiness to manage disease outbreaks, sustainable practice). 8 i Statistics Canada. The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2014: Public Health in the Future. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2015. Available: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cphorsphc-respcacsp/2014/chang-eng.php; (accessed 2016 Sep 19). ii The Conference Board of Canada. Meeting the care needs of Canada’s aging population. Ottawa: The Conference Board; 2018. iii Canadian Medical Association. Meeting the demographic challenge: Investments in seniors care. Pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. August 3, 2018. https://policybase.cma.ca/documents/Briefpdf/BR2018-16.pdf iv The Conference Board of Canada. Measures to Better Support Seniors and Their Caregivers. March 2019. https://www.cma.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/health-advocacy/Measures-to-better-support-seniors-and-their-caregivers-e.pdf v Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat. News release – First Ministers’ meeting communiqué on health. September 11, 2000. http://www.scics.ca/en/product-produit/news-release-first-ministers-meeting-communique-on-health/. Accessed 04/22/19. vi Statistics Canada. Primary health care providers, 2017. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00001-eng.pdf?st=NGPiUkM5. Accessed 04/21/19. vii College of Family Physicians of Canada. A vision for Canada. Family Practice: the patient’s medical home. http://www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Resources/Resource_Items/PMH_A_Vision_for_Canada.pdf. Accessed 04/22/19. viii College of Family Physicians of Canada. The patient’s medical home 2019. https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/files/uploads/PMH_VISION2019_ENG_WEB_2.pdf. Accessed 04/21/19. ix Norman C, Skinner H. eHealth literacy: essential skills for consumer health in a networked world. J Med Internet Res 2006;8(2):e9. Doi:10.2196/jmir.8.2.e9. x Van der Vaart R, Drossaert C. Development of the digital health literacy instrument: measuring a broad spectrum of health 1.0 and health 2.0 skills. J Med Internet Res. 2017;19(1):e27. Doi:10.2196/jmir.6709. xi Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. About FCAC. xii Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. National Strategy for Financial Literacy. Phase 1: strengthening seniors’ financial literacy. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/canada/financial-consumer-agency/migration/eng/financialliteracy/financialliteracycanada/documents/seniorsstrategyen.pdf. Accessed 06/24/19. https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/corporate/about.html. Accessed 07/01/19.
Documents
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Tax programs and health care services

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy431
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-08-15
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC01-52
That Canadian Medical Association recommend to the federal, provincial and territorial governments that they should immediately review the creation of tax-related programs that will help patients offset the ever-increasing out-of-pocket cost of health care services, which should include: 1. an increase in the currently allowable medical tax credit, and 2. a health savings plan similar to the RRSP program for application to anticipated future expenses such as long-term care, home care and pharmacological expenses.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-08-15
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC01-52
That Canadian Medical Association recommend to the federal, provincial and territorial governments that they should immediately review the creation of tax-related programs that will help patients offset the ever-increasing out-of-pocket cost of health care services, which should include: 1. an increase in the currently allowable medical tax credit, and 2. a health savings plan similar to the RRSP program for application to anticipated future expenses such as long-term care, home care and pharmacological expenses.
Text
That Canadian Medical Association recommend to the federal, provincial and territorial governments that they should immediately review the creation of tax-related programs that will help patients offset the ever-increasing out-of-pocket cost of health care services, which should include: 1. an increase in the currently allowable medical tax credit, and 2. a health savings plan similar to the RRSP program for application to anticipated future expenses such as long-term care, home care and pharmacological expenses.
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Getting the Diagnosis Right… Toward a Sustainable Future for Canadian Health Care Policy (Part One of a two-part brief to the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1970
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-10-31
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-10-31
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes this opportunity to provide a perspective to the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada on behalf of our 50,000 physician members, provincial/territorial divisions and affiliated medical organizations. Canada’s doctors are literally at the coal face of the health care system. Collectively each year our physicians, including licensed physicians, post graduate trainees and medical students have at least one, and often several face-to-face interactions with at least 80% of Canadians. Moreover, on a daily basis we interact with a wide range of other health professionals and agencies. The striking of the Commission has come at a cross-roads in the evolution of our national health care program. We face a faltering health care system, characterized by no long-term vision or systematic plan. There is a lack of common purpose among the stakeholders, waning public confidence and extremely low provider morale. If we do not act immediately to address these key areas, we will very soon lose the underpinnings of social support for the publicly funded health care system. This brief is the first of two parts. In medicine it has long been accepted that the key to a successful treatment is to first get the diagnosis right. In Part One we will focus on the “signs and symptoms” leading to a diagnosis and also outline some of the broad pathways to stabilizing our traumatized health care system. In Part Two, which will be completed in the spring of 2002, we will put forward recommended treatments. The overall theme is that we cannot manage our way out via increased efficiency gains alone. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A “TRAUMATIZED PATIENT” As a result of the relentless cost-cutting of the 1990s, we are now in the midst of a crisis of sustainability that has at least five dimensions: Crisis of Access – For those of us who spend increasing amounts of time each day trying to secure diagnostic and treatment resources for our patients, it is clear that we are in a deepening crisis of access to people, to technology, and to the surrounding infrastructure. What were once routine and timely referrals and treatments are now unacceptably long waits for all but the most urgent care. Crisis of Provider Morale – The morale of physicians, nurses and other providers in the system is at an all-time low. Physicians are working harder than ever, with fatigue and burnout becoming more commonplace. We are increasingly frustrated by the growing effort and time required to secure resources for our patients. Moreover, physicians have been largely marginalized in decision making at a system level as a result of the reforms of the 1990s. Crisis of Public Confidence – While Canadians continue to report high satisfaction with the health care they receive, they have lost confidence that the system will be there for them in the future. At the same time, they are being barraged through multiple media about the promise of revolutionary technology that is fueling their expectations about what we as physicians and the health care system are able to provide for them. Crisis of Health System Financing – While the federal government had been paring back its contributions to Medicare since the late 1970s, this was greatly intensified in the mid-1990s and only recently has begun to reverse itself. Health care spending is projected to exceed 40% of provincial/territorial government revenues in the not too distant future. Demographics and technology will continue to put upward pressure on costs. We believe that the top-down supply side management approach to cost containment has been a resounding failure. Crisis of Accountability – There is a growing problem of accountability at several levels. There continues to be bickering between the federal and provincial/territorial governments – is the federal share of Medicare 11% or 34%? At the provincial/territorial level, accountability has been pushed down to regional health authorities while authority continues to be held by the central health ministry. Proposals for reform have targeted providers for increased accountability but have ignored consumers as patients. We believe that the health care system and those of us who work in it have been seriously traumatized. We believe that these five signs and symptoms will only grow worse in the years ahead unless there is concentrated and timely action. PATHWAYS TO STABILIZING THE TRAUMATIZED PATIENT While we are not ready to put forward specific recommended treatments at this time, we would suggest that there are five “pathways” that will help guide the Commission’s work on the stabilization and recovery of this trauma. Focus on the “Hows”, not just the “Whats” – The health reform discussions of the 1990s in Canada have been dominated by the “whats” rather than the “hows”. When the “how” was considered at all, governments generally approached reform with a “big bang” approach. International experts have recognized that this is very unlikely to be successful when there are many stakeholders in a plurality of settings—which is certainly an apt depiction of the Canadian health care landscape. There is a clear need for a collaborative approach to “change management” that is based on early, ongoing and meaningful involvement of all key stakeholders. Adopt a Values-Based Approach to Change – We believe that Canadian Medicare has been largely well-served by its values-based approach, as expressed in the five program criteria of the Canada Health Act. We believe that a modernized Medicare program must continue to be underpinned by basic values such as universality and expressed through national principles. In particular, as physicians, we believe it is fundamental that we must continue to be agents of our patients and moreover that we must continue to uphold the principles of choice between patients and physicians. Striking a Better Balance Between Everything and Everyone – As we contemplate what a vision of Medicare for tomorrow might include we must be mindful that no country in the world has been able to pay for first dollar coverage for timely access to all health services. In light of the rapidly transforming delivery system with a shift from institutional to community-based care, a re-examination of the Medicare “basket” is overdue. Generate New Thinking – The new millennium requires new thinking. We have become complacent about Medicare. We are unlikely to find durable answers as long as discussions are bound by the current scope of application and interpretation of the five principles of the Canada Health Act. We need to reflect on the discussions among provincial/territorial premiers over the past few years and on international experience in order to gain an appreciation of the new consensus that may be emerging. Canada can and must learn from the experience of other countries that have already been forced to deal with, for example, the demographic shifts that Canada is about to encounter. We also need new thinking about the evolving context of the delivery of care in the age of the Internet and the new generation of both consumers and providers. Recognize That Better Management (while necessary) Will Not Be Sufficient – We do not believe that we can simply manage our way out of this crisis. Physicians have supported, indeed led, many innovations such as the implementation of clinical practice guidelines and have participated in primary care reform demonstration projects. Improved efficiency alone, however, cannot meet the demands we expect to see in the future. The system must be properly resourced on a predictable basis. NEXT STEPS… There is no “magic bullet” or quick fix that will put our national health program on a sustainable footing and restore Canadians’ confidence in it. Working harder to make the current system work better will not be sufficient. While there are still gains to be made from efficiencies and integration, we cannot simply manage our way out of this problem. It is time for fundamental change. We should not be discouraged from pressing on with this daunting challenge; it is imperative that we begin to act immediately. This brief sets out the variety of pressures that render the current health system unsustainable. It also sets out a value-based policy framework that can help guide future deliberations and point us to policies that can help address the rising concerns among both providers and Canadian health consumers. The brief is not intended to be all-encompassing. Various other medical organizations will be making representations to the Commission. The CMA encourages the Commission to seriously consider the complementary briefs submitted by our sister organizations. The CMA intends to submit its final recommendations, building on this framework, in the spring of 2002. This second brief will again be the product of our extensive set of discussions with the profession. INTRODUCTION The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes this opportunity to provide a perspective to the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada on behalf of our 50,000 physician members, provincial/territorial divisions and affiliated medical organizations. Canada’s doctors are literally at the coal face of the health care system. Collectively each year our physicians, including licensed physicians, post graduate trainees and medical students have at least one, and often several face-to-face interactions with at least 80% of Canadians. Moreover, on a daily basis we interact with a wide range of other health professionals and agencies. The striking of the Commission has come at a cross-roads in the evolution of our national health care program. We face a faltering health care system, characterized by no long-term vision or systematic plan. There is a lack of common purpose among the stakeholders, waning public confidence and extremely low provider morale. If we do not act immediately to address these key areas, we will very soon lose the underpinnings of social support for the publicly funded health care system. This brief is the first of two parts. In medicine it has long been accepted that the key to a successful treatment is to first get the diagnosis right. In Part One we will focus on the “signs and symptoms” leading to a diagnosis and also outline some of the broad pathways to stabilizing our traumatized health care system. In Part Two, which will be completed in the Spring of 2002, we will put forward recommended treatments. The development of this brief has been guided by the policy debates within the CMA over the past few years , including those at General Council in 1994 to 1998 and 2001, and by current deliberations with our Divisions and Affiliates. It has also been informed by the results of a series of Public Dialogue Sessions that were held across Canada in May/June 2001 and a National Report Card Survey that was conducted in late June 2001. The overall message of this initial submission is that working harder to make the current system work better, while necessary, is not sufficient. While there are still gains to be made from efficiencies and integration, we cannot simply manage our way out of this problem. It is time for fundamental change. Changes must focus, first and foremost, on restoring public confidence and provider morale. They should focus on care and speak to individuals and their needs, rather than being dispassionate at a systems level analysis. As a society, Canadians need a new consensus on the fundamentals of our health and health care system. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A “TRAUMATIZED PATIENT” 1. CRISIS OF ACCESS—ACCESSIBILITY MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT AVAILABILITY Access is a critical dimension of quality care. We are facing a growing crisis of access to timely health care with human, technological and physical infrastructure dimensions. As a result, the ability to provide quality care is suffering. The Health Workforce While we believe that the health workforce in general is facing a major sustainability challenge, we will focus our discussion on the physician workforce, with which we are most familiar. For most of the past decade, governments have acted on advice that Canada has too many physicians. Ministers of Health met in Banff in January 1992 to discuss the 1991 Barer-Stoddart report Toward Integrated Medical Resource Policies for Canada. 1 Out of the comprehensive set of 53 recommendations in this report, the Ministers clearly “cherry-picked” the one recommendation with a number attached to it – namely the 10% cut in enrolment that was implemented in the Fall of 1993. A year later governments began proposing/introducing a range of punitive measures to promote distribution objectives. Probably the most extreme of these was a proposal by the Ontario government in April of 1993 to discount by 75% the fees of what would have been the majority of new family physicians, paediatricians and psychiatrists. 2 Undergraduate medical school enrolment was already on the decline when the 10% cut was implemented, so the overall reduction translated into 16% fewer positions by 1997/98 than in 1983/84. Opportunities for young Canadians to enter medical school (relative to the population) decreased at an even greater rate. First year enrolment peaked in 1980 with 1 student per 13,000 citizens but by 1998 this had fallen to 1 per 20,000 (compared to 1 per 12,000 in the UK for example). While there was no decrease in the number of postgraduate new entry positions, re-entry opportunities were less plentiful and fell from 663 positions in 1992 to 152 by 1998. 3 Against this backdrop one should scarcely wonder why the number of physicians leaving Canada doubled between 1989 and 1994 (384 to 777). Since 1994, the outflow has abated somewhat to just over 400 in 1999. During 1998 and 1999 the number of physicians returning from abroad increased, thus the net loss was reduced to just under 250 physicians in each of those 2 years. In 2000, owing to a significant drop in the number of physicians leaving, the net loss dropped to 164. Nonetheless this is still equivalent to more than 1.5 graduating medical classes. 4 Over the 12 year period from 1989 – 2000, the net loss of physicians to emigration was almost 4,000. While long term planning is a key element of other large public enterprises in Canada, the same cannot be said for the health workforce. One of the ten core principles of the United Kingdom National Health Services reads “the NHS will support and value its staff”. An application of this principle may be seen in a recent UK strategy document for the scientists, engineers and technologists working in healthcare science. This 3-point strategy covers pay and career opportunities, working conditions and recruitment. 5 We would suggest that such a consideration has been largely absent from Canadian health policy over the past decade, certainly at a national level and most probably at the provincial/territorial level. The health workforce received scant attention by the National Forum on Health. The Provincial/Territorial Health Ministers’ 1997 Renewed Vision for Canada’s Health System makes only incidental mention of the health workforce. 6 These examples suggest that the health workforce has largely been taken for granted. By comparison, during the past decade, no fewer than three task forces have been struck to address the renewal of the federal public service. (Public Service 2000, La Relève and the 2001 Task Force on Modernizing Human Resources Management in the Public Service ). 7 We are now paying the price for this neglect. If we are to continue to maintain health care as a public enterprise in Canada, we believe that there needs to be a high level policy acknowledgement of the value of and commitment to the enhancement and renewal of the health workforce. A recent national consultation on research priorities for health services and policy issues reported that “health human resources was seen as the dominant issue for the next two to five years by policy makers, managers, and clinical organizations. The concerns of policy makers included regulatory frameworks, mechanisms for avoiding cycles of surplus/shortage, and the leadership vacuum within management and policy-making organizations.” 8 There are some signs that governments have belatedly begun to acknowledge that we are in a shortage situation. In November 1999, the Canadian Medical Forum presented the report of its Task Force on Physician Supply (Task Force One) at a meeting hosted by the co-chairs of the Confererence of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health. One of the key recommendations of the report called for an increase to 2000 first year medical school places for 2000.3 Since that time several provinces have announced increases in undergraduate enrolment and postgraduate training. As of July 2001, these increases numbered 353 undergraduate, 153 postgraduate and 37 re-entry (specialty) training positions. 9 However, these increases will not begin to have an appreciable impact for a minimum of five to six years. Another key recommendation, calling for efforts to repatriate Canadian physicians practising abroad and which would have a more immediate payoff has received no attention that we can discern. While these enrolment increases are most welcome, they highlight another problem, namely the steep increases in medical tuition and the prospect of tuition deregulation. Already there are reports of cumulative debt loads from undergraduate and medical education that may exceed $100,000. If this upward trend continues, we fear that this might not only re-ignite an exodus of physicians to the U.S. (where loans may be repaid more quickly), but that access to medical education may be restricted to only the most advantaged Canadians. Indeed a 1999 study 10 at one Ontario medical school found that the median family income of the 1st year intake class following a large tuition increase was significantly higher than the 2nd and higher year classes. A further challenge that is posed by the enrolment increases is in the capacity of the 16 Academic Health Sciences Centres (AHSCs) to provide undergraduate medical education and post-graduate training. There is a tendency to overlook the fact that AHSCs have a threefold mission; to provide teaching, to conduct original research, and to provide all levels of care for the surrounding population and highly specialized care for outlying regions. As the site of training moves increasingly out to the community, it will become necessary to recruit even more teachers from a pool of physicians who are only barely able to cope with their existing workloads. With few exceptions the resources required to fund the expansion of medical education to the community have not been forthcoming. Another development is that Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) is in the process of initiating several sectoral studies in health including home care, natural products, nursing, oral health care, pharmacists and physicians. 11 The Canadian Medical Forum, made up of the major national Canadian medical organizations, together with others will be working with HRDC and Health Canada to implement the physician sector study over the next few years. Again, these studies will not produce any short term payoffs toward alleviating the immediate and growing shortages of physicians and other health providers. Looking to the decades ahead we know that the demographic composition of the profession is going to change markedly. Women now represent more than 50% of our graduating medical classes, and while at present they represent 29% of the practising physician population, by 2021 this is expected to reach 44%. The medical profession is also aging. As of 2001 some 27% of physicians are aged 55 and over; by 2021 this proportion will be 37%. Given the historical (and continued) gap of some eight hours per week between the average work week of male and female physicians, there will be a major challenge in sustaining the volume of service required to meet the needs of our aging population. Information Technology in Service of Health The health care system operates within an information intensive environment. However, to date, a substantial portion of the data being collected is gleaned as a derivative of administrative or billing/financial systems. Although this provides useful information for arriving at a “high level” view of the operation of the health care system, it is generally of limited value to health care providers at the interface with their patients. A detailed costing study prepared by PriceWaterhouse Coopers for the CMA in 2000 estimated the cost of connecting all delivery points in the Canadian health care system at $4.1 billion. The $500 million announced in the September 2000 Health Accord is only a modest start. Health care providers require access to a secure and portable electronic health record (EHR) that provides details of all health services provided to their patient as well as the appropriate decision support tools. An EHR that meets the clinical needs of health care providers when interacting with their patients will serve to benefit not only the health of Canadians, but the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system. 12 A critical aspect of the EHR that remains to be addressed is that of privacy. While the Personal Information Privacy and Electronic Document Act is due to come into force for health information in 2002, the privacy protection afforded to patient and provider interactions is not at all clearly defined. The CMA has ongoing serious concerns about the lack of clarity in the Act. These concerns have recently been exacerbated by a decision of the federal Privacy Commissioner to deem physician information as “professional” rather than personal, thereby making confidential information more accessible. This will not make it any easier for Canadian physicians to embrace information technology in service of health. Capital Infrastructure Much of our current infrastructure dates back to the early days of Medicare—forty years ago. In order to provide necessary health services, the health care system must be supported by adequate infrastructure. However, public investment in this area has declined substantially since the late 1980s with the first wave of health care reform initiatives. For example, from 1986-87 to 1993-94, the number of approved public hospital beds decreased by 2.8% annually, and in 1994-95 the decline increased to 7.2% annually after the introduction of the CHST. In total, over this period the number of approved public hospital beds decreased by 36.1%. 13 While the trend in shorter inpatient days, and therefore an increase in outpatient care, has mitigated the problem of a bed shortage somewhat, there is a need to monitor readmission rates on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, the question of whether Canada has an adequate supply of acute care beds for those who require inpatient care must be addressed. We would also add that this has resulted in considerable offloading to the community in the area of primary care, community based services and informal caregivers without any transfer or infusion of resources to support the community’s efforts. Further evidence of the disinvestment in health care infrastructure can be seen in the areas of building construction, machinery and equipment. The following considers expenditures in terms of constant 1992 dollars so that levels are adjusted for inflation. Real per capita capital health expenditures by provincial governments have declined by 16.5% from its 1989 peak at over $63. In terms of new building construction by hospitals, between 1982 and 1998 real per capita expenditures decreased by 5.3% annually. Finally, real investment in new machinery and equipment in the hospital sector has declined annually by 1.8% since 1989. 13 2. CRISIS OF PROVIDER MORALE We are concerned that this telling comment, written by a physician respondent in the CMA’s 2001 Physician Resource Questionnaire (PRQ), reflects the mood of many physicians in Canada today. [BOX CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [BOX END] Canada’s physicians are working harder than ever. According to the 2001 PRQ survey the average work week of a physician is 53.4 hours (not including call). The bulk of this is taken up with direct patient care (35 hours). The remainder is occupied by activities such as indirect patient care, teaching, research, and education. The physician’s work week does not end there. Again according to the PRQ, three out of four physicians (74%) report taking shared call for their patients out of hours and those who do report an average of 144 hours (six 24-hour days) per month, during which their activities are constrained to a significant degree. It is no surprise that more than one out of two (54%) respondents to the 2001 PRQ reported that their workload had increased over the past 12 months, while fewer than one out of ten (9%) reported a decrease. In every age group, physicians were likely to report that their workloads are heavier than they would like – in terms of potentially compromising their ability to provide high quality care to their patients – rising from 53% among those less than 35 years of age to roughly 70% of those in the 35-54 age group, and then declining to 64% among those aged 55-64 and 37% among those 65 and over. 14 There are at least three main contributing factors to the crisis of physician morale. The first has been the aforementioned blunt and coercive measures made by governments in the early 1990s to curtail physician numbers and manage distribution. Planning requires taking a longer term view and resisting the temptation to “cherry pick” for short term relief. A second facet of practice life that has become increasingly burdensome for patients and providers is the increasing amount of time that it takes to arrange for referrals, tests and treatments for our patients. In urgent or life-threatening situations, care is being provided. However, about two thirds or 64% of respondents to the 2001 PRQ reported difficulty in obtaining appropriate resources on behalf of their patients. The difficulty that Canadian physicians experience in accessing resources on behalf of their patients is further illustrated by the results of a survey conducted by the firm of Harris Interactive, in which physicians were surveyed in 2000 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. Data from this study show that high proportions of Canadian physicians report problems with access to care in their practices, particularly when compared to their U.S. colleagues. While Canadian and U.K. physicians report similar levels of problems, there are dramatic differences between Canada and the U.S. For example, Canadian physicians are almost eight times more likely to report problems with access to the latest medical and diagnostic equipment than their U.S. colleagues (63% vs. 8%). Similarly, 61% of Canadian physicians reported problems of availability of medical specialists and consultants, compared with 13% of U.S. physicians, while 66% of Canadian physicians reported major problems with long waiting times for surgical or hospital care compared with just 7% of U.S. physicians 15. This is an avoidable cause of stress on the physician-patient relationship. Third, when regionalization was implemented during the 1990s, physicians and other providers were generally marginalized in the process. Indeed, in several provinces, health providers were expressly prohibited from serving on regional boards. An early indication of this was gained in the CMA’s 1995 Physician Resource Questionnaire. Only 10% of respondents agreed that physicians had been involved or consulted in the implementation of regionalization in their region, and just 21% agreed that the medical profession had any ongoing input. While we have not surveyed our members recently on this, we have little reason to believe that there has been significant change. The crisis of morale is by no means confined to physicians. The authors of a recent policy synthesis on the benefits of a healthy workplace for nurses, their patients and the system declared that “the Canadian healthcare system is facing a nursing shortage that threatens patient care. Many nurses, physically and mentally exhausted, quit; employers cannot fill those vacancies, while paradoxically other nurses cannot find secure jobs with hours that suit them. Meanwhile, nursing schools cannot keep up with the demand for new recruits.” 16 3. CRISIS OF PUBLIC CONFIDENCE The observation quoted here was made by one of the physician moderators at the CMA’s 2001 Public Dialogue Sessions. 17 We believe that, if anything it understates the perilous state of Canadians’ confidence in our health care system. [BOX CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [BOX END] The precipitous decline in Canadians’ assessment of our health care system has been tracked by the Ipsos-Reid polling firm over the 1990s. While in May 1991, 61% of Canadians rated our health care system as excellent or good, by January 2000 this has declined to just 26%. 18 We found further evidence of the dimensions of this concern in the first CMA National Report Card on Health Care Survey, which was carried out on our behalf by Ipsos-Reid in the summer of 2001. In terms of an overall rating, just 21% of Canadians gave the system an “A” grade, 44% “B”, 26% “C”, and 9% “D”. While the report card confirms previous findings that those who have used the system are generally satisfied (30% “A”, 38% “B”) the ratings of access to most health care services are distressing (Figure 1). While access to family physicians receives an “A” rating, the ratings of most specialized services are dismal. Just 15% of Canadians rate access to medical specialists as “A”, while 22% assign it a failing “F” grade. 19 [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [TABLE END] Similarly, our Public Dialogue Sessions from the summer made it clear that Canadians believe that the quality of health services has declined in Canada and many fear that it will get worse before it gets better. Six out of ten Canadians (64%) reported that the overall quality of health care services in their community had deteriorated over the past 10-15 years. Looking ahead, 37% of Canadians expect health services to be worse in five years, outnumbering the 30% who think they will get better. As one of our Public Dialogue participants put it this summer, “It will get worse—nursing homes have long waiting lists. Hospital beds are plugged up with people waiting to get into nursing homes. With our aging population—it’s only going to get worse.” 17 Although we do not have much quantitative evidence yet, we believe that patient expectations will continue to increase, as Canadians are bombarded by news of promising new developments through multiple channels. The growth of health information on the Internet has been a chief contributor to this. In the CMA’s 2000 PRQ survey, 84% of physicians reported that patients had at least occasionally presented medical information to them that they had found on the Internet. 20 Also worrisome is the vast array of sources of medical information that can be found on the world wide web – information that is not always from credible sources nor based on scientific evidence. In summary, we are deeply concerned that Canadians’ confidence in our system is hovering at a level that threatens the sustainability of the social consensus that underlies our current Medicare program. Clearly this must be addressed before we attempt to strike a new one. 4. CRISIS OF HEALTH SYSTEM FINANCING When Tommy Douglas’ government implemented Medicare in Saskatchewan in 1962, he said at the time, “all we want to do is pay the bills”. It was not too long after Medicare was implemented nationally in 1971, however, that governments started thinking about ways of controlling costs, and before the decade was out, under the Established Programs Financing (EPF) arrangements, 50:50 cost sharing had been replaced by a combination of tax points and cash contributions linked to economic growth. Clearly, policy thinking has been dominated by top-down supply side management for the past two decades. In a commentary on Justice Emmett Hall’s second (1980) report, noted Canadian health economist Roderick Fraser warned, “the size of the Canadian health care sector in relation to the current health status of Canadians and in particular to the current lifestyle of Canadians, hazardous as it is to health status, leads one to wonder if we have been over-sold on cost-containment.” 21 When EPF was merged with the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) in the 1995 federal budget, creating the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), total federal contributions to health care became impossible to distinguish from contributions to social assistance and services and post-secondary education. Latterly, this has resulted in ongoing feuding between the federal and provincial/territorial governments over the respective shares of health financing. Not only is the portion of the CHST allocated to health care variable and indistinguishable from other social programs, the amount of the CHST itself has been unstable since its introduction. In the two fiscal years beginning April 1996, government cut CHST cash by 33%. It will not be until 2002-03 that the CHST cash floor will equal its 1994-95 level, with no adjustment for the increasing health care needs of Canadians, inflation or economic growth. 12 A five year $11.5 billion cumulative reinvestment in health care announced in 1999 and an additional one-time unearmarked investment of $2.5 billion in 2000 are a combination of increases to the CHST cash floor and one-time supplements. These CHST supplements, totalling $3.5 billion over three years starting in 1999 and $2.5 billion over four years starting in 2000 are not included in the CHST cash floor, nor are they intended to grow over time through an escalator. These multi-year supplements are charged to the preceding year’s budget. Once allocated and spent, the money is gone. These supplements are merely “tentative half-measures” and by no means a substitute for fostering short-, medium- and/or long-term planning. 12 The effect of the squeeze on public health care finance in Canada is clearly evident in international comparative perspective. During the 1980s and early 1990s, governments were fond of calling Canada the “silver medalist” in health expenditures as we were second only to the U.S. in terms of total per capita expenditures. As of 1998, however, Canada ranks fourth among OECD countries and much lower when we consider just the public component. In 1998, Canada ranked 8th with respect to public per capita spending (the “private system” U.S. ranked third and indeed recorded per capita public spending that was 13% higher than Canada). When public expenditure is considered as a percentage of total health expenditure, Canada was much closer to the bottom, ranking 23rd out of 30. 22 These rankings are not generally well-known and governments are generally not interested in getting this information out to Canadians. Demographics The issue of demography has been widely discussed in recent years and a variety of scenarios regarding the impact of the aging Canadian population has been presented. It was featured in the CMA (1982) report as one of two major pressures on the system, along with technology (see below). According to a 1998 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, the number of people 65 years of age and over is expected to more than double from 3.6 million in 1996 to almost 9 million by 2031. 23 The implication for health care is substantial. On average, per capita public spending on health for those aged 65 and over is almost five times greater than per capita spending on the rest of the population. 23 In our 2000 research, we identified four schools of thought: * The first, and the one that has probably received the greatest attention, posits that as a result of population aging, total health costs will increase significantly and will require an increased relative share of GDP. * The second argues that total health costs will increase, but only gradually, and this increase will be absorbed by GDP growth and reallocations from other sectors. * The third school believes that population aging will result in an increase in the demand for health care, but that we will be able to contain costs by delivering health care more efficiently. * The fourth school holds that the demand for health care will decrease because the future population, and in particular the future elderly population, will enjoy better health status. From the 2000 discussion paper it was evident that there is no clear consensus on the prospects for sustainability. 24 In July 2000, Ipsos-Reid polled the Canadian public on behalf of the CMA, with respect to their agreement on the likelihood that each school will play out over the next 20 years. The results are shown in Table 1 (with exact wording). 25 Clearly, Canadians are skeptical about our ability to sustain an affordable health care system. We share their concern. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table 1: Poll of Canadians’ Views School of thought % reporting agreement 1. Healthcare costs will rise sharply, thereby increasing demands for public funds for health care 45 2. Healthcare costs will rise gradually, the increase will be manageable due to growth in the economy 19 3. The demand for healthcare will increase but we will be able to contain costs by operating the healthcare system more efficiently 29 4. The demand for healthcare will decrease because the population will enjoy better health status 11 [TABLE END] A September 2001 OECD study has compiled the most recent projections of aging related to public expenditures over the 2000-2050 period, and in general, significant health care cost increases associated with population aging are expected. “The average increase over the 2000-2050 period for the 14 countries where this information is available is 3 to 3.5 percentage points of GDP. But for five countries (Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States), increases of 4 percentage points or more are projected.” 26 For Canada specifically, the study estimates that the 2000 level of 6.5% of GDP allocated for public health expenditures will increase to roughly 10.5% over the 2000-2050 period—more than the current GDP share of total health expenditures (9.3% in 2000). Similarly, according to a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada, “public health expenditures are projected to rise from 31% in 2000 to 42% by 2020 as a share of total provincial and territorial government revenues.” 27 This would clearly squeeze other categories of social spending and public expenditure. While to a certain degree these projection studies are intended to be “self-defeating prophecies”, in our judgement, when these are factored in to the overall context of what the demographic shift will mean for the aging workforce and social security generally, there is reason for profound concern. Health Technology Over the past few decades, technology has made a great contribution toward pushing back the frontiers of Medicare. Based on a 2001 survey of U.S. general internists of their assessment of 30 of the most significant innovations over the past 25 years, Fuchs and Sox reported that the most important innovation by a considerable margin is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanning. 28 The potential of CT and MRI technology for screening, diagnosis and the image-guided treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and cancer has been documented by Industry Canada’s Medical Imaging Technology Roadmap Steering Committee. 29 In terms of keeping pace with developments in technology, Canada is woefully behind other OECD countries for selected diagnostic and treatment technology, except for radiation therapy equipment (Table 2). 30 The CMA has estimated that, for the technologies listed in Table 2 (plus positron emission tomography, for which data are not available from the OECD), it would require an overall capital cost of $1 billion plus an operating cost of $0.74 billion (for a three-year period) to bring Canada up to the standard of access to medical technology of developed countries with a similar level of per capital income. [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table 2: Canada’s relative position among OECD countries with respect to selected medical technology, 1997 Canada OECD countries reporting Selected Technology Level; units per million pop. Rank No. of countries Avg. level; units per million pop. First rank; units per million pop. Computed tomography 8.1 12 15 12.7 24.9 Magnetic Resonance Imaging 1.7 11 13 3.7 8.4 Lithotripter 0.5 10 11 1.9 3.7 Radiation therapy 7 5 13 6.1 14.8 [TABLE END] The Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology (CCOHTA) has just completed a national inventory of several types of imaging equipment, which will form a useful basis for further discussion. If we relate the numbers of units to the July 2001 population 31, the only significant shift since 1997 has been in MRI scanners, where the rate has more than doubled to 3.6 units per million population – still below the 1997 OECD average of 3.7. The 2001 level of CT scanners of 9.7 per million is still significantly below the 1997 OECD average of 12.7, and there has been no change in the relative availability of lithotripters. 32 The September 10, 2000 10-point health accord that was concluded by First Ministers 33 did include a $1 billion fund to modernize technology, however, no accountability measures were attached to it and so a year later we really do not know how much of it has actually been spent on the purchase of new equipment that has been put into the service of patients. More generally, the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) has expressed concerns about aging equipment that may be providing unreliable diagnostic information. 34 In summary, the CMA supports the efforts of CCOHTA to date, while suggesting that the introduction, diffusion and replacement of medical technology is still occurring across Canada in too haphazard a fashion. The need for better planning has been well put by the Industry Canada Committee, which stated that “The health-care system needs to develop budgetary tools and financial systems which permit and facilitate cost-effective technological innovation. Health-care funding, including capital cost amortization, needs to be stable and predictable, and independent of political uncertainties.” 29 5. CRISIS OF ACCOUNTABILITY . . . COOPERATIVE MECHANISMS Why is it that those who know the most about health and health care – practitioners – have the least opportunity to participate in the key decisions about health and health care? This is the key to re-establishing accountability in the system. We believe that the crisis of accountability is due in large measure to a profound problem in the governance of Canada’s health system. If we may define governance as the process of effective coordination when knowledge and power are distributed, there are at least three axes in Canada along which power and knowledge are distributed: a. between federal/provincial/territorial and regional authority/municipal levels of government/administration; b. along the east-west array of provinces and territories; and c. among a range of stakeholders, including government, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and citizens. There has been a substantial and growing imbalance among these axes over the past decade; it seems that at any given time it is difficult to achieve concerted direction on more than one of them. For much of the past decade, the tension between the federal/provincial/territorial governments in relation to healthcare has been very pronounced. For example, the provinces and territories did not generally participate in the National Forum on Health. Conversely, when the provincial/territorial Health Ministers produced their 1997 Renewed Vision for Canada’s Health System (Conference of Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health 1997), the report received very little attention at the federal level. 6 In both cases, the admonitions of the health care community went largely unheeded. While there has been progress along this front, as evidenced by the February 1999 Social Union Framework Agreement (Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat 1999) and the September 2000 health accord, this highlights a second problem. In general, governments have discounted the role that NGOs and citizens might play in policy-making and in promoting policy among its members. The recent federal/provincial/territorial agreements have been negotiated by government officials behind closed doors (executive federalism), and yet it is the providers and patients who are expected to implement and live with the results. This is in keeping with the lack of openness and transparency of the entire federal/provincial/territorial policy process. To highlight one problem that this has caused, the acute shortage of physicians in many places across Canada is due, in part, to the unilateral decision by Health Ministers in 1992 to reduce undergraduate medical enrolment by 10%. These problems are exacerbated by the rapid turnover of both Health Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Again, the admonitions of the health community went largely unheeded. Clearly, Canadians are unimpressed with the back and forth squabbling between levels of government. We believe this is partly reflected in the findings of our 2001 Report Card Survey. When asked to rate the federal government’s performance in dealing with health care in Canada, Canadians were six times as likely to give it a failing “F” grade (30%) than they were to give an excellent “A” grade (5%). Similarly, 35% of Canadians gave their provincial government an “F” grade while just 6% gave it an “A” grade. 19 If we are to achieve a vision for a sustainable Medicare program in the challenging decades ahead, it will be critical to resolve the imbalances along these axes. Governments must begin to work collaboratively with other stakeholders, including citizens. Prior to the Health Ministers meeting in September 2000, the Canadian Health Care Association, Canadian Nurses Association and the CMA put forward a proposal to them for a Council on Health System Renewal based on the principles of consultation and collaboration. 35 A year later we have yet to hear a response. Perhaps there may be lessons to learn from the Council of Ministers of Education, which has been meeting since 1967. While this Council does not include formal NGO representation, it does sponsor events such as a symposium that involve key stakeholders.36 PATHWAYS TO STABILIZING THE TRAUMATIZED PATIENT The traumatized patient of “Medicare” needs to be stabilized. The Health Accord (September 2000) goes part of the way. What remains is to set out some of the parameters of change that can ensure that we keep the best of what we have but also progress the system to address the challenges set out in the previous section. Five such parameters of change are set out below. 1. FOCUS ON THE “HOWS”(not just the “whats”) The health reform discussions of the 1990s in Canada have been dominated by questions of what we need to do, e.g. expand benefits to include pharmacare and home care. Discussions did not deal with the “hows”. When the “how” was considered at all, governments generally approached reform with a “big bang” approach. International experts have recognized that this is very unlikely to be successful when there are many stakeholders in a plurality of settings—which is certainly an apt depiction of the Canadian health care landscape. There is a clear need for a collaborative approach to “change management” that is based on early, ongoing and meaningful involvement of all key stakeholders. In approaching change management there are two important principles to keep in mind. The first is the need for evidenced-based decision-making. This is adapted from the concept of evidenced-based medicine, which stresses the examination of evidence from clinical research based on a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches. 37 The second would be to reaffirm the Canadian way of approaching change, namely: evolution not revolution. By this we mean that we should build on the best of what we have in the current Canadian system 2. ADOPT A VALUES-BASED APPROACH TO CHANGE After much discussion, the CMA is of the view that any proposed changes should be assessed in relation to a limited number of first principles. For the purposes of this paper, Medicare as we know it today consists of those services that are covered by the five program criteria of the Canada Health Act; essentially medically necessary services provided in hospitals and doctors’ offices. As we reflect on where we have come in Medicare and where Canada might go, as physicians we believe that the following first principles underpin any new and sustainable policy direction. * Patient-centered focus – reforms must focus on meeting the needs of the patient rather than the system * Inclusivity – to truly achieve buy-in to change all key stakeholders; payors, providers and patients; must be engaged in early, ongoing and meaningful consultation * Accountability – all stakeholders must assume some level of accountability for the health care system * Universality – we believe that health care must be available and accessible to all Canadians and that health resources should be allocated on the basis of relative medical need. We would underscore that Medicare is the last remaining universal program in Canada and needs to be preserved and protected. * Choice – one of the hallmarks of Medicare is that patients have the freedom to choose their physician, to switch with another physician and/or to seek a second opinion. We believe it is essential that the principle of choice between physicians and patients must be sustained. * Physician as Agent of the Patient – we believe that Medicare has promoted the concept of the physician as agent of the patient and that this must continue. * Quality – we believe that the Canadian health care system must continuously strive to provide quality care. By quality care we mean services that are evidenced-based, appropriate for patient needs and delivered in a manner that is timely, safe and effective. In summary, we believe that these principles can serve to guide the “modernization” of our health care system for the future, while at the same time building on the best of our current system. 3. STRIKING A BETTER BALANCE BETWEEN EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE As we contemplate the future of Medicare it is useful to begin by establishing a frame of reference for the Canadian system. Historically, Canada has distinguished itself in terms of health system design by essentially subsuming the demand side of the market (i.e. public financing) while leaving the supply side alone (e.g. fee-for-service payment methods). Canada has also chosen to provide everyone with first dollar coverage for a somewhat limited range of benefits (unlike our European counterparts). Accordingly, there are two broad dimensions that may be used to describe publicly financed or regulated health care systems in the developed or industrialized world: * Universality Dimension…Coverage of Everybody – the extent to which the public program covers the entire population over all health services; and * Comprehensiveness Dimension…Coverage of Everything – the range of services that are included in the public program and the extent of that coverage. An overall proxy measure of comprehensiveness is the share of total health expenditures that come from the public purse. From a national perspective, physician and hospital services are essentially both universal and comprehensive programs. The universality and comprehensiveness of other health services varies between the provinces and territories. With respect to comprehensiveness as it relates to the total health care system, the Canadian system comes in at 70% public coverage – an amount not dissimilar from most industrialized nations.22 Where Canada differs from other countries is in the distribution of that coverage. Canada has provided extensive public coverage in physician and hospital services (over 90% public payment), with less attention to other services such as home care and prescription drugs (e.g. less than 60% of prescription drug expenditures were public in 1998 38). Other countries tend to spread the extent of public coverage more evenly across the broad spectrum of health services. As we think of the future of Medicare, a key challenge will be to determine whether the uneven distribution of public coverage is a significant issue. It is the view of the CMA that this issue does require serious consideration for a number of reasons: * Canadians can point to the fact that the allocation of physician and hospital resources is predominantly based on patient need. This same principle, however, does not extend to patients whose condition requires access to other kinds of services – out-patient prescription drugs, community mental health care and home care being three examples where economic factors may play a greater role in access decisions. We must consider the equity issues of this dichotomy, acknowledging that there are practical constraints. * Where there are treatment alternatives, the lack of comprehensive coverage may lead to biases that increase costs. Physicians faced with decisions about separation from acute care facilities must factor in the availability of home care programs which are often less than adequate. Some drug treatments are simply outside the reach of many Canadian families, though this may be the most efficacious and cost-efficient route. * The problems cited above have been intensifying due to the changing nature of health service delivery, such as the movement of care to the community and the growth in drug therapies. * Canadian provinces do not all have the same ability to expand beyond physician and hospital services and there are no generally accepted principles to govern that expansion. As a result, there is a patchwork quilt of coverage across the country with widely varying services. If the Commission determines that a more comprehensive range of services is required, then the question will become how this can be achieved. There are several alternatives that can be considered, and there will be a need for new thinking. 4. GENERATE NEW THINKING In Canada, Medicare has been defined by five principles that, taken together, embody the collective value or sense that we are all in the same health lifeboat. Over the years the five program criteria or principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA) have been effective in preserving the publicly funded character of hospital and physician services, although there has been a growing crisis of access. The delivery of health care has been markedly transformed. Treatment methods provided today are often quite different from those provided in the past for the same conditions. This affects the extent to which their care is publicly insured, which is dependent upon how they are treated, who treats them, and where they are treated. During the past few years a number of questions have been raised about the values that underlie health care systems both in Canada and internationally. In the Canadian context we can think of the following three critical questions. First, what range of services should be covered by national principles? Second, are the five principles that currently apply to Medicare sufficient? Third, having defined a range of services whose provision is assured by a set of principles, how do we pay for them? One example of an attempt at new thinking may be seen in the 1995 report of the provincial/ territorial Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal which sets out 15 principles along four themes, namely that social programs must be accessible and serve the basic needs of all Canadians; reflect individual and collective responsibility; be affordable, effective and accountable; and be flexible, responsive and reasonably comparable across Canada. 39 In our view, this language promotes a flexibility of interpretation that reflects our modern diversity and allows for a realignment of priorities as they may change over time. To summarize, in our view the language and content of the principles put out over the past few years are a reflection of the following points: * the principles that have defined Medicare to date cover a declining share of the delivery of health care * the existing CHA principles are increasingly inadequate in respect of assuring Canadians a reasonable (i.e. timely) access to medically necessary services * internationally, it appears that there is a move to adopt guiding principles that cover a broader range of the continuum of care and which rebalance individual and collective responsibility in some measure. We have grown complacent while the rest of the world has experimented. Indeed, to some extent our national health insurance system has forced out innovation. On the other hand, because provinces are reasonably autonomous regarding health, we have had the benefit of interprovincial comparisons. We are also on the leading edge of both a health information and a bio-technological revolution that is going to fundamentally change the practice of medicine and the nature of the patient-physician relationship. We will need to promote flexibility and adaptability in an era of diversity and rapid change. 5. RECOGNIZE THAT BETTER MANAGEMENT (WHILE NECESSARY) WILL NOT BE SUFFICIENT Up to the present, the reports of the federal and provincial/territorial task forces and commissions since the 1980s have concluded that we can manage our way out of the sustainability crisis by introducing a series of supply side measures to control costs. In Canada, these initiatives have included the wave of regionalization (and rationalization), physician controls and numerous proposals for primary care reform. The multi-faceted crisis that we are now experiencing is clear evidence of the inadequacy of these strategies. We suspect that many in the health policy community continue to believe that major efficiency gains remain to be squeezed out of the system. After four consecutive years of negative real growth in public sector health spending (1992 to 1996 inclusive) 38, the CMA cannot accept the premise that working harder or smarter is going to solve the problems of the system. Strategic reinvestments in health are clearly required. We do not believe that we can simply manage our way out of this crisis. Physicians have supported many innovations such as the implementation of clinical practice guidelines and have participated in primary care reform demonstration projects. Improved efficiency alone, however, cannot meet the demands we expect to see in the future. The system must be properly resourced on a predictable basis. NEXT STEPS … There is no “magic bullet” or quick fix that will put our national health program on a sustainable footing and restore Canadians’ confidence in it. Working harder to make the current system work better will not be sufficient. While there are still gains to be made from efficiencies and integration, we cannot simply manage our way out of this problem. It is time for fundamental change. We should not be discouraged from pressing on with this daunting challenge; it is imperative that we begin to act immediately. This brief sets out the variety of pressures that render the current health system unsustainable. It also sets out a value-based policy framework that can help guide future deliberations and point us to policies that can help address the rising concerns among both providers and Canadian health consumers. The brief is not intended to be all-encompassing. Various other medical organizations will be making representations to the Commission. The CMA encourages the Commission to seriously consider the complementary briefs submitted by our sister organizations. The CMA intends to submit its final recommendations, building on this framework, in the spring of 2002. This second brief will again be the product of our extensive set of discussions with the profession. REFERENCES 1 Barer M, Stoddart G. Toward Integrated Medical Resource Policies for Canada. Winnipeg: Manitoba Health; 1991. 2 Shortt S. The doctor dilemma: public policy and the changing role of physicians under Ontario Medicare (Chapter 3). Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press; 1999. 3 Tyrrell L, Dauphinee D. Task force on physician supply in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Forum; 1999. 4 Slight rise in Canada’s physician supply, more specialists and fewer family physicians, reports Canadian Institute for Health Information. Ottawa: Canadian Institute for Health Information; Aug. 9, 2001. [Media release] [http://www.cihi.ca/medrls/09aug2001.shtml] 5 National Health Service. Making the change: a strategy for the professions in healthcare science. London: Department of Health; 2001. [http://www.doh.gov.uk/makingthechange/index.htm] 6 A renewed vision for Canada’s health system. Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health; Jan. 1997. 7 Prime Minister announces formation of Task Force on Modernizing Human Resources Management in the Public Service [press release]. Ottawa: Prime Minister of Canada; Apr. 3, 2001. [http://pm.gc.ca/default.asp?Language=E&Page=newsroom&Sub=newsreleases&Doc=managementtaskforce. 20010403_e.htm] 8 Listening for direction: a national consultation on health services and policy issues. Ottawa: Canadian Health Services Research Foundation; 2001. 9 Buske L. Additional undergraduate, postgraduate and reentry positions announced since summer 1999. Ottawa: CMA Research Directorate; July 16, 2001. 10 Sim P. Report of the 1999 survey of medical students. London: University of Western Ontario; 1999. 11 Human Resources Development Canada Studies in Progress. http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca//hrib/hrib/hrp-prh/ssd-des/english/projects/projects.shtml. Accessed May 1, 2001. 12 On the road to recovery…an action plan for the Federal Government to revitalize Canada’s health care system. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; Sept. 2000. 13 Specialty care in Canada: issue identification and policy challenges. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001. 14 2001 Physician resource questionnaire. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001. 15 Blendon R, Schoen C, Donelan K, Osborn R, DesRoches CM, Scoles K, et al. Physicians’ views on quality of care: a five-country comparison. Health Aff 2001;20(3):233-243. 16 Commitment and care: the benefits of a healthy workforce for nurses, their patients and the system. Canadian Health Services Foundation, The Change Foundation; 2001. 17 Public dialogue sessions 2001: Planning a full recovery—voices, values & vision. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001 18 Wright J. The public domain: current public opinion attitudes and expectations on Canada’s healthcare system. (presentation). Vancouver: Ipsos Reid Group; May 15, 2000. 19 National report card on health care 2001. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2001. 20 2000 Physician resource questionnaire. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2000. 21 Bird R, Fraser R. Commentaries on the Hall Report. Toronto: Ontario Economic Council; 1981. 22 Health data 2001. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; 2001. 23 Population aging and information for parliament: understanding the choices (chapter 6). In Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Ottawa: Office of the Auditor General of Canada; April 1998. 24 In search of sustainability: prospects for Canada’s health care system. Ottawa: CMA; 2001. 25 Canadians call for funding and multi-stakeholder involvement to cure health care ills. Ottawa: CMA; Aug. 13, 2000. [http://www.cma.ca/advocacy/news/2000/08-13.htm]. 26 Dang T, Antolin P, Oxley H. Fiscal implications of ageing: projections of age-related spending. Paris: OECD; Sep. 5, 2001. 27 The future cost of health care in Canada: balancing affordability and sustainability. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada; 2001. 28 Fuchs V, Sox H. Physicians’ views of the relative importance of thirty medical innovations. Health Aff 2001; 20(5):30-42. 29 Medical Imaging Technology Roadmap Steering Committee. Future needs for medical imaging in health care. Ottawa: Industry Canada; 2000. 30 Health data 1999. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; 1999. 31 Statistics Canada. Latest Indicators; Oct. 24, 2001. [http://www.statcan.ca/start.html]. 32National Inventory of Selected Imaging Equipment. Ottawa: Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology; 2001. [http://www.ccohta.ca/newweb/imaging_equip/imaging_equip.htm]. 33 First Ministers’ meeting: communiqué on health. Ottawa: Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat; Sep. 11, 2000. [http://www.scics.ca/cinfo00/800038004_e.html]. 34 Radiology in crisis: majority of equipment dangerously outdated. Montreal: Canadian Association of Radiologists; Sep. 28, 2000. [http://www.car.ca/press/equipment.htm]. 35 Barrett P. Letter to Hon. Allan Rock and Hon. David Chomiak. Ottawa: CMA; Sept. 25, 2000. 36 About the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Toronto: CMEC; 2000 [http://www.cmec.ca] 37 Evidence-Based Working Group. Evidence-based medicine: a new approach to teaching the practice of medicine. JAMA 1992; 268(4): 2420-2425. 38 National health expenditure trends 1975-2000. Ottawa: Canadian Institute for Health Information; 2000. 39 Report to Premiers. Ottawa: Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal; 1995.
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Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations : Securing Our Future . . . Balancing Urgent Health Care Needs of Today With The Important Challenges of Tomorrow

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy2013
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-11-01
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2001-11-01
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) values the open, constructive and ongoing dialogue afforded by the Standing Committee on Finance’s Pre-Budget Consultations process. As a society, it is essential that we make every effort to work together to find lasting solutions to what are a series of complex and interdependent policy issues, especially during these turbulent times. Last August, the Committee set out objectives for this year’s consultations. You asked for advice on how to ensure that Canada remains a major player in the New Economy while providing Canadians with equal opportunities to succeed and create a socio-economic environment where they can enjoy the best quality of life and standard of living. However, world events have intervened and the urgent has crowded out the important. The CMA has suspended, for the most part, what we consider important longer term issues in an effort to do our part in helping guide the government’s deliberations in this time of national need. We support the government’s commitments, to date, in response to the events of September 11 and their aftermath. We are cognizant of the economic forecasts that show a slowing economy as a result and the need to re-focus our national attention on security issues. The overriding challenge for this Committee therefore, will be to develop recommendations for the next budget that address the current and future situation with respect to national security without losing sight of internal needs such as pursuing the innovations necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of our health care system. Indeed, we see the latter as supporting the former. The CMA is committed to working closely with the federal government to ensure that Canada’s health care system can respond to immediate health security challenges. Our members are committed to continuing to ensure that Canadians’ confidence is restored by developing and implementing policy initiatives that serve to strengthen Canadians’ access to quality health care when they need it. To this end and building on our efforts since September 11, the CMA has put together a to meet these objectives. Specifically, the CMA has examined and developed recommendations that address national preparedness in terms of security, health and capacity; the capacity of our health human workforce in addressing current and future demands; and a look beyond the urgent to the necessary, in the form of a proposed process to review tax policy in support of health policy. II. PREPAREDNESS Health and Security The events of September 11, 2001 have had a profound impact on the lives of Canadians. Anxiety over the openness of our borders, the safety of our airlines and our vulnerability to attacks filled the media and our conversations in the days following the tragedies in the United States. A Canadian Ipsos Reid Express survey taken for the Canadian Medical Association October 23-25, 2001 indicated that 31% of respondents report ongoing sadness, anger, disturbed sleep, or are overprotective of their children. 1 This confirms what our members are telling us, based on everyday practice. A GPC International survey indicates that three-quarters of Canadians have a moderate to strong fear that the US-led anti-terrorist campaign will lead to Canada being a possible terrorist target. 2 An earlier Canadian Ipsos Reid Express survey taken October 1, 2001 shows that the attacks have risen to the top of the list of issues (73%) that should receive the greatest attention among our leaders. 3 Social issues, including health, are the second rated (49%) concern among Canadians. The Canadian Medical Association’s response following the terrorist attack was immediate and is ongoing. Working through and with our provincial/territorial Divisions and Affiliates, the Association began collecting names of those physicians willing to offer assistance to US agencies dealing with the tragedy should it have been requested. As well, we spearheaded the development of the Canadian Mental Health Support Network (www.cma.ca/cmhsn), which includes Health Canada and twelve other national health associations, to help Canadians and Canada’s health professionals cope with the mental health aftermath of the attack. The work of this network continues in terms of a series of public security announcements to be released very soon and in terms of ensuring that the information available through health professionals is clear, concise and consistent. We also provided continuous updated advice to Canadian doctors about bioterrorist threats. In the early days of the anthrax scare, before Health Canada had materials available for the public, hundreds of calls for information to 1-800-OCanada were referred daily by Health Canada to the CMA. However, there is an aspect of this issue requiring urgent attention given the current environment. It is the ability of our health system to respond to a disaster, be it a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or a large scale accident. As the Canadian Medical Association and others have documented, the people and the infrastructure of our system is already stretched in its capacity to deal with everyday demands. We have seen that emergency rooms across this country can barely cope with the increased demands brought on by the annual flu season. The system is already operating at or beyond capacity. Devastation approaching the scale of September 11 has not been seen in Canada since December 6, 1917 with the Halifax explosion. While no health system can ever be fully prepared to meet such a staggering level of destruction, it must have the confidence, the resources and, the disaster planning and referral systems to rise to the challenge if Canadians are to be reassured that help will be there if and when they need it. Public Health and Safety The challenge – if and when it comes – will require a local response that is supported nationally. To appreciate the scope of the work necessary to prepare the health system for the threats brought by terrorism it will be useful to understand the challenges currently facing public health in Canada. We have long enjoyed the benefits of a solid public health system through the various health protections, health promotion, and disease prevention and control programs created to maintain and improve the health of the population. The essential role of the medical officer of health in the public health system must be acknowledged, supported, and respected. Their credibility provides the community and health care professionals, particularly physicians, with balance and specialized medical expertise on public health matters. When the board of health is performing its mandated duties successfully, few are even aware that it is at work. Yet when a public health crisis strikes, the community expects rapid, knowledgeable, expert and quality attention to matters. But it can only do that if there is a strong infrastructure in place to meet the challenge. A clear and present danger is the emergence of new diseases or the re-appearance of old ones. An editorial in the April 27, 2000 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine expresses concern about the ability of public health infrastructures to cope with this problem without the resources needed to respond. 4 Increased trade, rising migration rates, and changes in the environment have led to worries over the revival of diseases thought to be under control or near extinction (e.g., human plague, tuberculosis and malaria) and even the recognition of some new “bugs”. The need to be vigilant about the re-emergence of infectious diseases was brought home to governments with a large outbreak of human plague in India in 1994. 5 Out of 876 cases reported, characterized as presumptive plague, 56 were fatal. A large outbreak of Ebola in Zaire in 1995 led to as many as 233 people dying from the disease and further strengthened the case for devoting resources to this problem. 6 West Nile Virus The New York City area got a first-hand look at this problem in 1999 with the appearance of the West Nile virus in North America. As the New York Times reported, it may have come in the blood of a traveler returning from Africa or Europe. 7 It may have arrived in an infected bird smuggled in baggage or even in a mosquito that got onto a jet. In spite of efforts to contain the disease, it has now begun to spread through the eastern portion of the continent, as far north as southern Ontario and as deep as Florida. Tuberculosis Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s two deadliest infections and it is feared to be on the verge of a major comeback. The disease kills 1.5 million to 2 million people a year, almost as many as AIDS. Experts say that toll could increase in the coming years because TB bacteria are evolving dangerous new strains that are increasingly drug-resistant. 8 Health Canada reports that there have been some cases (and deaths) in Canada of multiple drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) strains. 9 Only Newfoundland, PEI and the territories have not had cases of drug-resistant TB. Latvia and Russia are considered “hot spots” in the world for MDR-TB. However, one in three reported isolates in New York City in recent years was MDR-TB. As well, highly resistant strains spread from New York to Florida, Nevada, Georgia and Colorado in less than two years. Malaria The World Health Organization estimates that one million die from malaria a year and 90% of those deaths are Africans (2500 African children under five die from malaria each day). 10 The disease seems to be dying back in other continents but growing stronger across Africa. The WHO report on infectious diseases describes malaria as having the power to “overwhelm a young child causing high fever, convulsions and breathing difficulties. With the onset of cerebral malaria the child lapses into a coma and may die within 24 hours.” 11 AIDS According to the WHO, there are over 33 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS. 12 The hardest hit area is sub-Saharan Africa where one in four of the adult population has HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, 10% of the population is now infected with HIV. 13 The problem among pregnant women is worse, with 22% infected with HIV. In May, 2000, the US National Security Council declared that the spread of AIDS across the world is a threat to national security. 14 The concern, like many of the infectious diseases, is that eventually it will overwhelm the ability of governments to cope with the disease. The US government has sought to double to $254 million to combat AIDS overseas. Readiness Post-September 11 The tragic events of September 11 provided a grim reminder of the necessity of having a strong public health infrastructure in place at all times. As was demonstrated quite vividly that day, we do not have the luxury of time to prepare for these events. While it is not possible to plan for every contingency, certain scenarios can be sketched out and prepared for. To succeed, all communities must maintain a certain consistent level of public health infrastructure to ensure that all Canadian residents are protected from threats to their health. These are only some of the external threats. The Canadian public health system must also cope with domestic issues such as diseases created by environmental problems (e.g., asthma), sexually transmitted diseases, and influenza, among many others. Even before the spectre of bioterrorism this country’s public health experts were concerned about the infrastructure’s ability to deal with multiple crises. There are many vacancies among the public health physician and nursing staffs, particularly in rural and northern Canada as well as the First Nations units. This workforce is also aging and efforts to attract and retain staff have been lagging. The announcement of October 18, 2001 by the federal government of a $11.59 million investment was welcome news to Canadians in the aftermath of September 11. It provided for the “basics” in terms of stockpiling of necessary antibiotics, the purchase of sensor and detection equipment to help respond to radio-nuclear incidents, enhancing a laboratory network to better equip them to detect biological agents, and provide training to front-line health care professionals to help them recognize, diagnose and treat suspicious illnesses. However, far more needs to be done to improve our ability to respond to health and security contingencies of all kinds. The Walkerton water crisis is an example of the difficulties often faced by public health officials. Without the full resources (legislative, physical, financial, human) to do the job properly, the health of Canadians is potentially jeopardized. The Ontario Medical Association emphasized this point in its brief to the Walkerton Inquiry: “Unstable and insufficient resources hamper the Ontario public health system. Steps must be taken by the provincial government to enhance the ability of boards of health to deliver public health programs and services that promote and protect health and prevent disease and injury. Sufficient and reliable public health funding is critical.” 15 The CMA reinforced that message in a resolution passed at its 2001 Annual General Meeting: “That CMA recommend all levels of government across Canada urgently review legislation governing all aspects of drinking water from source to consumption to ensure that comprehensive programs are in place and being properly implemented, with effective linkages to local, provincial and territorial public health officials and Ministries of Health.” In a recent broadcast in the United States, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out seven priority areas for building capacity and preparedness within a public health system: 16 * A well trained, well staffed public health workforce * Laboratory capacity to produce timely and accurate results for diagnosis and investigation * Epidemiology and surveillance to rapidly detect health threats * Secure, accessible information systems to help analyze and interpret health data * Solid communication to ensure a secure two-way flow of information * Effective policy evaluation capability * A preparedness and response capability which includes a response plan and testing and maintaining a high state of preparedness These points apply whether the threat is a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Public health must be ready for all such threats. And, at present, we are told, that responding to a crisis like Walkerton or North Battleford, not to mention the possibility of co-ordinated bioterrorism, effectively results in public health units shutting down many core programs that are the building blocks of the health care system. As the long shadow of bioterrorism rises over Canada and menaces our health and wellbeing, these issues take on even more significance to Canadians. This Committee must do its part to provide for an “act locally by thinking nationally” with regard to public health support systems. The Current Context As noted above, prior planning and preparation is one of the keys to ameliorating the effects of such sudden and calamitous occurrences. It must be remembered that a catastrophic event of the nature that occurred on September 11 is a local event in that it happens within the jurisdiction of a specific municipality. The quality and level of the response depends on how well prepared the local authorities are for such actions. The local capacity to respond varies across Canada with some area health services (e.g., the larger urban centres) better prepared and equipped than others (there may be jurisdictions that do not have plans). Regardless of how well prepared any municipality is there is always the very strong possibility that public health officials will be overwhelmed and need to turn to the province or territory for help. It is also possible that the event is so massive that even the provincial or territorial resources are besieged and it must call on the federal government with their stockpiles of medical supplies and access to epidemiologists and laboratory services. That assumes good planning before hand between the federal and provincial/territorial governments and that is not necessarily the case. There is an important role for the federal government to urgently improve the coordination among authorities and reduce the variability among the various response plans in cooperation with provincial authorities (and assist those in preparing plans where none exist). Health Canada must help facilitate efforts to rationalize preparations and make it easier for jurisdictions to assist one another in a time of disaster. This could include measures such as transferring patients quickly to facilities outside the affected area when the immediate hospitals are full or even to transferring them to other provinces or territories if necessary. Disease surveillance is another component of these measures. To be effective there must be, at the provincial and territorial level, linked electronic surveillance mechanisms that are standardized and the staff available to analyze and report the data. At the federal level, the government must be ready to provide data in a timely fashion, especially in an emergency. However, very few of Canada’s doctors will have seen the disease entities that threaten Canadians at the moment (e.g., anthrax, smallpox). The CMA has expressed its willingness to assist Health Canada in bringing together stakeholders to develop quickly a curriculum that would train health care professionals to recognize, diagnose and treat the new threats we face as a society. The government must also aid in the development of volunteer teams of health professionals and other experts that can be mobilized rapidly in response to disasters wherever and whenever they occur. The concept would be similar to the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). 17 DART consists of medical, engineering, logistics, communications and security personnel ready to deploy at short notice to anywhere in the world from their support base at Canadian Forces Base Trenton. It is crucial, that the federal government build and maintain its supplies for emergency use, its public health laboratories for early detection, its capacity to rapidly train and inform frontline health workers of emerging threats, its ability to assist the provinces and territories, and co-ordinate provincial responses in the event of overwhelming or multiple simultaneous threats. In this area, the CMA recommends that: 1. The federal government immediately provide a minimum of $15 million for an assistance fund to municipal and provincial authorities to improve the co-ordination of their emergency responses among public health officials, police, fire and ambulance services, hospitals and other services. This fund should be over and above a similar sized investment to ensure that Health Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness can function even only at a minimal level of effectiveness. The announcement of October 18 by the Minister of Health that $11.59 million would be spent to enhance our response to a potential attack is an important step toward reassuring Canadians that help will be there when they need it. However, far more must be done to further expand the federal government’s ability to assist municipalities, provinces and territories in dealing with disasters. The vital role played by disease surveillance cannot be stressed enough. In the event of an unusual or particularly feared illness, or an outbreak of a preventable disease, the public’s attention can quickly focus on the public health unit’s response. The medical officer of health communicates with physicians (specialists and, general and family practices physicians) in the community. Physicians, especially general and family practice physicians, depend upon their medical officers of health and the health units as an important resource. This includes information on contact tracing, interpretation of unusual clinical symptomatology, vaccination, communicable disease control, outbreak control, environmental health, cluster investigation, epidemiology, travel medicine etc. An effective and efficient surveillance system must be in place in order to provide this data quickly to stop the spread of a disease as fast as possible. Unfortunately, a weak link in the existing surveillance system is communications. This has had an impact on health professionals’ ability to receive timely information regarding changes in disease incidence in their community. Regional, provincial/territorial and federal authorities must work to improve the coordination of communications at all levels to protect the health and wellbeing of Canadians in times of crisis. The CMA recommends that: 2. The federal government continue to invest, at a minimum, $25 million in the coming year in the resources and infrastructure (i.e., medical supplies, equipment, laboratory facilities, and training for health care professionals), needed to anticipate and respond to disasters. The sale of Connaught Laboratories meant that Canada lost much its residual capacity to manufacture vaccines. If this were a “normal” war, Canadians would be looking to divert our manufacturing capacity toward meeting the threat. Given the biological threat, the Government of Canada should be negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry to increase our capacity to produce a secure supply of vaccine on Canadian soil. This would include the need for more than one supplier and the capacity to increase quickly the production of the vaccine. The CMA recommends that: 3. That the federal government undertake an immediate review of Canada’s self-sufficiency in terms of critical medical supplies (e.g., vaccines) required in the event of disasters with a view to short term self sufficiency. Surge Capacity Among the first points of contact with the health system for Canadians in the event of a significant attack on our population it will be the doctors offices and the emergency rooms of our hospitals. As noted earlier, we have witnessed in recent years the enormous strain these facilities can be placed under when even something quite routine like influenza strikes a community hard. The media abounded with stories of patients waiting hours to be examined, of stretchers lining corridors and of ambulances being redirected from hospital to hospital. Canadians themselves experienced first-hand how the resources of the hospitals, particularly the human resources, were stretched to the breaking point. The acute care occupancy rates of Ontario public hospitals across the Ontario Hospital Association regions in 1999-00 illustrate this point. In three of the five regions (Eastern Ontario, Central and South West) the occupancy rate ranged from 94% to 97% 18. The highest rate was found in the very heavily populated Central region. A British Medical Journal study suggests that an occupancy rate over 90% indicates that the hospital system is in a regular bed crisis 19. This problem is not unique to Ontario: “the decrease in the number of acute care beds across Canada over the past decade, coupled with an aging population and our extraordinary success in extending the survival of patients with significant chronic illness, has eliminated any cushion in bed occupancy in the hospital system.” 20 With this in mind, picture a catastrophe similar in scale to the destruction seen in New York or Washington D.C. occurring in downtown Toronto, Vancouver or Montréal; or perhaps the release of smallpox or botulism over Fredericton or Winnipeg. As noted earlier, the public health system and medical diagnostic and treatment systems in the community and hospitals could become overwhelmed very quickly without the ability to absorb the extra caseload. Like our hydro system, that is why surge capacity must be built into the system nationally to enable hospitals to open beds, purchase more supplies, and bring in the health care professionals it requires to meet the need. An element of surge capacity that is seriously lacking is the federal government’s contribution to emergency bed space. With the closure of most of the Canadian Force’s hospitals and the severe loss of experienced health professionals in the military, the government’s ability to assist local and provincial/territorial civilian authorities should their systems become overwhelmed is limited. Currently the National Emergency Stockpile System can supply up to 40,000 cots, as well as medical supplies and relatively rudimentary hospital equipment. Reports indicate, however, that much of the equipment is decades old, and that protocols for logistical management (e.g., transport and rapid deployment) are outdated. There is an urgent need to reassess and reaffirm capacity in this context. The CMA is in close contact with the American Medical Association as they advise their government on coordinating the use of civilian and federal facilities in an emergency. Most hospitals work on a just-in-time inventory basis for the purchase of drugs. Without some sort of plan to quickly re-supply their pharmacies and expand their capacity, patient care will suffer. The federal government must assure Canadians that municipal and provincial plans are in place with an overarching national plan to support these jurisdictions if their service capacities are overwhelmed. As mentioned earlier, the announcement by the federal government of the $11.59 million investment to enhance our response to a potential attack is a good step. But the government must help further by making available an emergency fund that would enable hospitals to plan and organize their surge capacity. The CMA recommends: 4. The federal government provide, in the coming year, $25 million in specific earmarked funding to the provinces and territories to enable health care facilities to plan, build and maintain surge capacity (e.g., open more beds, purchase emergency supplies) into their systems. The purpose of having such elaborate response plans and stockpiles of supplies and equipment is to be ready for the possibility that, in spite of all efforts to prevent a catastrophe from occurring, it nevertheless happens. That is when responsibility for dealing with the aftermath of the event falls largely to the public health system where a strong and viable infrastructure must already be in place to meet the challenge. Without the resources and the preparations, the crisis might well deteriorate and spread beyond “ground-zero.” That notion is often very difficult for non-health sector agencies and organizations to appreciate and can be an impediment to improving our capacity to help Canadians in times of disaster. No one can be completely prepared but you can prepare for certain scenarios. That is where the federal government can facilitate the health system’s readiness and reassure Canadians that help will be there when they need it. The federal government has taken several steps to reassure Canadians that their physical safety is enhanced. This includes the introduction of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the development of an Anti-Terrorism Plan. As well, there is increased funding to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment to help those agencies do their jobs more effectively. The health system must be considered an integral component of any plan to combat terrorism. It too requires assistance, especially the public health infrastructure, in strengthening its ability to counter the effects of an attack, whomever or whatever is responsible. III. THE CAPACITY OF OUR HEALTH HUMAN WORKFORCE Although the right mix of physical infrastructure and sustainable, long-term funding is necessary, in and of itself, it is not sufficient to ensure that all Canadians have timely access to quality medical services. We must also have an adequate supply of physicians and other health personnel or the system will not have the flexibility or adaptability to respond to basic societal needs or a crisis in times of disaster. We believe that the health workforce in general is facing a major sustainability challenge, and as such, this section of the brief proposes initiatives that are not solely focused on physicians but the entire health human workforce. Reports produced by several health professional organizations show that although overall numbers may be increasing, it is not sufficient to meet future demands. In 2000, there was a moderate 1.7% increase in the nurse population 21; however, a 1997 Canadian Nurses Association report projected that the supply of nurses must grow by 2.1% per year to meet future demand. 22 Similarly, the number of physicians per 100,000 population appears to be increasing slightly each year (187 in 2000), but it remains below the 1993 level of 191 per 100,000 population. The physician to population ratio can be misleading in that it does not necessarily represent full time physicians. CMA figures show that a larger proportion of physicians fall into the older age groups and may not be working full time or indeed may not be providing patient care at all. Also, one needs to factor in the demographics of the current physician workforce. Female physicians, who tend to work fewer hours per week than their male colleagues, now represent 30% of the practising pool. This means that more physicians will be needed to provide the same number of services. But this may not be possible, as approximately two-thirds of all family physicians are no longer routinely accepting new patients. 23 This is placing considerable pressure on those currently working within the health care system with little hope for relief. For example, data gathered through the CMA’s annual Physician Resource Questionnaire (PRQ) substantiates anecdotal evidence that physicians are working harder. Over half the respondents to the 2001 PRQ (53.7%) indicated that their workload had increased over the past year. Looking at specific areas that have caused physicians the greatest degree of stress, 63.7% indicated that their workload is heavier than they would like (up from 62% in 1998), while 58.1% felt that their family and personal life had suffered from choosing medicine as a profession (up from 55% in 1998). There are a number of short-term and longer term initiatives that can be implemented to reverse the shortage in our health care personnel and alleviate the stress they are feeling from trying to keep the system operating as best it can. What follows is a description of the short-term initiative the CMA is proposing for consideration by the Standing Committee. For a detailed description of the longer term initiatives and recommendations, please refer to Appendix A. What Can be Done Today? Given the immediate need for more physicians and other health professionals in Canada and the time lag involved in training, especially for physicians, the CMA proposes that a variation on the strategy adopted by the Canadian Forces (CF) 24 be used to repatriate physicians and other professionals. The CF announced the implementation of a Medical and Dental Direct Entry Officer Recruitment Allowance effective April 1, 1999 to recruit licensed family physicians, general practitioners and dentists. Recruitment incentives involve a lump-sum signing bonus/recruitment allowance of $80,000 per direct entry medical officer and $25,000 per direct entry dental officer after a successful completion of 3 months of basic officer training. The commitment is for a duration of 4 years and retention incentives involve an adjustment to medical and dental rates of pay that are competitive with private sector net earnings. The CMA concurs with the concept of an incentive program as proposed by the CF and suggests that a similar approach be implemented for recruiting and retaining Canadian physicians and other health care professionals currently practising outside of Canada. Presently there are some 10,500 Canadian physicians practicing in the US as well as tens of thousands of Canadian nurses. Of these physicians, close to 1,000 are considered active physicians both in Canada and the US. 25 Some of these physicians are no doubt practising in border towns where dual licensure is common, but many may be expatriates who have maintained their licensure in Canada hopefully with plans to either return or at least leave their future options open. Rather than proposing a lump sum approach as an incentive the CMA proposes that the incentive come through graduated federal income tax relief by reducing federal income tax payable by 50% for 3 years for Canadian physicians and health care professionals who return to practice in Canada. Such an approach provides direct relief and over a period of 3 years would provide incentives similar in size to those proposed by the CF in their recruitment and retention program. It is estimated that such a program would cost approximately $45 million over 3 years to repatriate an estimated 5% or 500 physicians back to Canada. If repatriation of other health care providers were included then it is estimated that the total cost of such an initiative could increase to $85 million over 3 years. The CMA therefore recommends: 5. That the federal government seriously consider implementing a 3-year graduated tax relief and re-allocation policy to encourage expatriate physicians and other health professionals to return to Canada. IV. TAX POLICY IN SUPPORT OF HEALTH POLICY The federal government has played a key role in the development of our health care system, primarily through a variety of measures or policy levers such as: spending; taxation; regulation; and information. Up until now, Canada’s health care system has made extensive use of only two federal policy levers, namely spending, in the form of cost-sharing arrangements between the federal and provincial/territorial governments; and by regulation, through the Canada Health Act. However, the degree to which the government can continue to rely on these levers must be examined. In the not-too-distant future, our health care system will face a number of pressures that will challenge its sustainability. Namely, an aging and more demanding population in terms of the specialty care services and technology they will seek; the cry for expanding the scope of medicare coverage to include homecare and pharmacare; and a shortage of health personnel. Several national health care studies, namely the Prime Minister’s Forum on Health and more recently, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology’s Study of the Health Care System have raised the need to look at alternative health care funding sources. We can not and should not wait any longer to explore and act upon the options available to us. Looking at Alternatives One of the lesser-explored options has been the strategic use of Canada’s taxation system. A public discussion of tax policy has not been seen in Canada since at least 1966. 26 Nor have we seen a major assessment of tax policy in relation to social policy since the 1980’s Macdonald Commission. In fact, the last major overall tax policy review was that of Benson in 1971. There is an urgent need to more fully consider the role that the tax system can play in supporting the health care system. Several proposals have been put forward over time in this areas, such as earmarked taxes for health; health-related excise taxes; input tax credits for health care services; medical savings accounts; saving for long-term care; social insurance; and refundable tax credits. This list is not exhaustive. In fact, the CMA has done some preliminary work in this area by commissioning a discussion paper on taxation and health policy. 27 In the paper, the author puts forth 10 “real world” proposals where the tax system can be used to support health policy. The CMA has initiated detailed discussion with Health Canada, Statistics Canada and others to model some of the possible scenarios. Of course, some of these are more promising than others. It is for this reason that the CMA is recommending the federal government to establish a National Task Force to review the tax system with the purpose of developing innovative tax-based mechanisms that better synchronize tax policy with health policy. In this area, the CMA recommends: 6. That the Federal Government establish a blue ribbon National Task Force to study the development of innovative tax-based mechanisms to better synchronize tax policy and health policy. First and foremost this Task Force would study: a) increasing the reach of the medical expense deduction (i.e., increasing the threshold from the current 3% of taxable expenditures) b) extending the medical expense deduction from a non-refundable tax credit to a refundable tax credit so that those not having income tax payable are afforded easier access to those services not covered under universal health “programs” c) dealing with the untoward inequities arising out of the application of the GST. The CMA envisions the mandate of the Task Force as being – to conduct a thorough policy and costing analysis of all potential tax-based mechanisms (not limited to those outlined in the above recommendations) that can be developed to assist in the financing and management of the health care system. The Task Force would be comprised of representatives from government, the health care system, private sector, and the public and it would issue its findings and recommendations within 2 years of its conception. V. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS In closing, the CMA has offered a powerful and strategic combination of policy initiatives designed to re-vitalize Canada’s health care system as well as to restore Canadians’ confidence that they will be taken care of in times of disaster. The proposals are realistic and practical. They give the provinces and territories full flexibility in terms of policy implementation while ensuring full recognition to the federal government for its essential investments. These proposals emphasize the need for the federal government to continue its leadership to ensure that our health care system, Canada’s most cherished social program, is available to meet the health care needs of all Canadians. No one group can address all of the issues and challenges facing the health care system. The CMA reiterates its commitment to work with the federal government and others to ensure that our health care system will be there for all Canadians in the future and in times of crisis. The Summary of Recommendations is as follows: 1. The federal government immediately provide a minimum of $15 million for an assistance fund to municipal and provincial authorities to improve the co-ordination of their emergency responses among public health officials, police, fire and ambulance services, hospitals and other services. 2. The federal government continue to invest, at a minimum, $25 million in the coming year in the resources and infrastructure (i.e., medical supplies, equipment, laboratory facilities, and training for health care professionals), needed to anticipate and respond to disasters. 3. That the federal government undertake an immediate review of Canada’s self-sufficiency in terms of critical medical supplies (e.g., vaccines) required in the event of disasters with a view to short term self sufficiency. 4. The federal government provide, in the coming year, $25 million in specific earmarked funding to the provinces and territories to enable health care facilities to plan, build and maintain surge capacity (e.g., open more beds, purchase emergency supplies) into their systems. 5. That the federal government seriously consider implementing a 3-year graduated tax relief and re-allocation policy to encourage expatriate physicians and other health professionals to return to Canada. 6. That the Federal Government establish a blue ribbon National Task Force to study the development of innovative tax-based mechanisms to better synchronize tax policy and health policy. First and foremost this Task Force would study: a) increasing the reach of the medical expense deduction (i.e., increasing the threshold from the current 3% of taxable expenditures) b) extending the medical expense deduction from a non-refundable tax credit to a refundable tax credit so that those not having income tax payable are afforded easier access to those services not covered under universal health “programs” c) dealing with the untoward inequities arising out of the application of the GST. APPENDIX A The Capacity of Our Health Human Workforce Looking to the Future There are some signs that governments have begun to acknowledge that we are in a sustained shortage situation. In November 1999, several health ministers met with members of the Canadian Medical Forum Task Force on Physician Supply in Canada which recommended 2000 first year medical school places for 2000. Since then, governments have been very active in committing to increases in both undergraduate and postgraduate medical training. Enrolment of new medical students in 2000/2001 reached 1763 for an increase of 12% since 1997/98. This closely matches the promised increases to undergraduate enrolment made by governments. Approximately 140 more positions have been promised for the school years beginning 2001 and 2002. In this area, the CMA recommends that: 7. That the federal government immediately establish a Health Human Resources Education and Training Fund in the amount of $500 million per year for 5 years to fund: (1) increased enrolment in undergraduate and postgraduate education; and (2) the expanded infrastructure (both human and physical resources) required at Canada’s 16 health science centres as a result of increased enrolment. While the outlook for the future supply of physicians in Canada seems brighter, it will be quite a few years before we can benefit from the current increases in undergraduate enrolment. These initiatives must not only continue, but be enhanced to ensure that our health care system is sustainable into the future. However, there is one factor that may keep us from attaining the optimal level of medical school enrolment – high and rising medical school tuition fees. In August 2000, at the Conference of Premiers, Prime Minister Chretien said, “It is indeed important in the new knowledge-based economy that Canadians … have access to high quality post-secondary education without excessive debt loads, and that every child get the best possible start in life. This is all part of the Canadian competitive advantage.” 28 This sounds well and good, but the facts tell us otherwise. Since 1980, medical school tuition costs have increased by almost 880%, or more than twice as fast as the general cost of living. 29 The average tuition for students entering first year medical school in September 2001 was $12,840, a 158% increase over the 1997 average fee of $4,977. This means that over the course of four years, an undergraduate medical student is likely to spend approximately $110,000 in tuition, academic and living expenses. 30 Many students have had to resort to bank loans to cover the shortfall from their government-sponsored student loan, but the growing amount of debt accumulating for medical students is starting to worry the banks. The CIBC says that rising medical education costs have resulted in debt loads growing much faster than medical students’ potential income and so, it will no longer grant medical students preferred lending rates. The CIBC sets limits on the amount of debt that they feel students can repay in the years following their training. Unfortunately, medical students are now reaching these limits – which are in the $100,000 - $130,000 range. 31 Unlike the government-sponsored loans, interest on bank loans begin accruing immediately, up to a decade before a medical student starts earning a full income. This trend raises serious concerns that access to medical education will be restricted solely on the basis of personal financial resources. High debt loads will discourage capable and qualified students – particularly those from modest financial backgrounds – from applying to medical school. Canada’s health care system needs individuals from different socio-economic, cultural, rural and urban backgrounds to serve an equally diverse population of patients. First and foremost, the government must address the situation concerning the high and rising tuition fees and the insufficient financial support systems available to medical students. It must also consider purchasing additional training positions in Canada’s medical schools specifically targeted for groups, such as Aboriginal, Indian and Inuit populations. These measures will foster the education and training of a diverse population of health care givers, and will support the culturally and socially sensitive health care needs of all Canadians. The CMA sees a strong role for the federal government in ensuring that medicine remains a rewarding and affordable career accessible to students based on their passion and academic performance, not their financial status. The CMA therefore recommends: 8. That, in order to alleviate some of the pressures driving tuition fee increases, the federal government increase transfer payments to the provinces/territories with targeted amounts for post-secondary education. 9. That the federal government create and fund a national health services student bursary program to encourage students who have limited financial resources to apply for an education in health care services. 10. That the federal government develop financial support systems for health services students that are: (a) non-coercive; (b) developed concomitantly or in advance of any tuition increase; (c) in direct proportion to any tuition fee increase; and (d) provided at levels that meet the needs of the students. 11. That the federal government purchase additional training slots in Canadian medical schools for particular segments of our population, such as aboriginals. REFERENCES 1 Canadian Ipsos Reid Express. Terrorist Effect. October 23-25, 2001. 2 GPC International. Canadians split on the best response to the terrorist attacks and fear reprisals at home. Media Release October 18, 2001. www.gpcinternational.com/media/releases/20011018.html 3 Canadian Ipsos Reid Express. The Public Agenda Post September 11, 2001. October 1, 2001 4 Osterholm M. Emerging infections – another warning. NEJM 2000; 342(17) http://www.nejm.org/content/2000/0342/0017/1280.asp. 5 World Health Organization. Plague Manual – Epidemiology, Distribution, Surveillance and Control. The Organization: 1999. http://www.who.int/emc-documents/plague/docs/whocdscsredc992a.pdf 6 Sanchez A. et al. Reemergence of Ebola virus in Africa. Emerging Infectious Diseases Vol. 1(3); July-September 1995. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol1no3/sanchez.htm. 7 Revkin A. Mosquito virus exposes the hole in the safety net. New York Times Oct. 4, 1999. http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/regional/100499ny-pest.html 8Okie S. Tuberculosis is threatening to make a comeback. International Herald Tribune Aug. 11, 1999. http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/WED/IN/tb.2.htm 9 Health Canada. When anti-tuberculosis drugs don’t work. Tuberculosis Epi Update January 2000. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hpb/lcdc/bah/epi/tbdrug_e.html. 10 BBC News Online. Africa confronts malaria. Apr. 25, 2000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_724000/724445.stm 11World Health Organization. World Health Organization Report on Infectious Diseases – Removing Obstacles to Healthy Development. Geneva: The Organization, 1999. http://www.who.int/infectious-disease-report/pages/textonly.html 12 Ibid. 13 BBC News Online. South Africa AIDS crisis worsens. Apr. 19, 2000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_719000/719183.stm 14 Richwine L. US declares AIDS a threat to security. National Post May 1, 2000 A1. 15 Ontario Medical Association. Ontario Medical Association Input to Walkerton Inquiry Part II: Protecting the Public’s Health. Toronto. April 2001 16 Koplan JP. Building Infrastructure to Protect the Public’s Health. Public Health Training Network Broadcast September 21, 2001 (Downloaded from Web: October 19, 2001 www.phppo.cdc.gov/documents/KoplanASTHO.pdf ) 17 Dept. of National Defence. Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Relief Team. BG-99-051 (Amended) October 10, 2001. (Downloaded from Web: October 25, 2001 [www.dnd.ca/eng/archive/2001/oct01/28DART_b_e.htm] 18 Ontario Hospital Reporting System, 2001. Acute Care Occupancy Rates, Ontario Public Hospitals by OHA region, 1999/00. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. 19 Bagust A, Place M, Posnett J. Dynamics of bed use in accommodating emergency admissions: stochastic simulation model. BMJ; 319: 155-158 July 17, 1999. 20 Nicolle L. Viruses without borders. Can J Infect Dis Vol. 11, Issue 3, May/June 2000 (Downloaded from Web: October 23, 2001: www.pulsus.com/Infdis/11_03/nico_ed.htm) 21 CIHI. Canadian Institute for Health Information Reports Moderate Rise in Register Nurses Workforce, Fewer RNs Working on Casual Basis, More Working Full-time, Media Release, May 23, 2001. 22 Canadian Medical Association. Specialty Care In Canada: Issue Identification and Policy Challenges, October 2001. 23 Canadian NewsWire. Not enough family-physicians to meet patient needs, October 25, 2001 [www.cnw.ca/releases/October2001/25/c0304.html] 24 Incentive Programs for the Recruitment and Retention of Medical and Dental Officers, http://www.dnd.ca/eng/archive/1999/jul99/05DocIncen_b_e.htm 25 Based on a linkage done by Canadian Institute for Health Information of data from Southam Medical Data Base and the America Medical Association’s Masterfile. 26 Carter K. Royal Commission on Taxation, Canada, 1966. 27 Thompson A. Taxation and Health Policy: A Discussion Paper, August 2001. 28 Letter from Prime Minister Jean Chretien to the Honorable Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, Chair, Conference of Premiers, August 4, 2000. 29 Ontario Medical Association. Medical Education Fact Sheet, 2001. 30 Admissions/Student and Equity Affairs, Faculty of Medicine, University of Western Ontario. Budgeting Guide for Medical Students: 1999-2000. 31 Banks no longer banking on earning potential of medical students, Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 12, 2001; 164(12) 1735
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