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Healthcare Crisis – How did we get here?

Every day that goes by it seems the current healthcare crisis gets worse.  Rather than hearing solutions or seeing patient stories that give hope, we’re hearing the opposite.

Wait times are long and getting longer. Millions of Canadians are without a family doctor and that number is only growing.  Just last week a report was leaked that nearly a thousand Ontarians are waiting for a hospital bed on any given day and waits are up 54% from this time last year.  And these waits have real consequences – patients get sicker or even die because they can’t be treated.

All the good that comes with having a publicly funded healthcare system means nothing if your citizens can’t use it.  

So what has gone wrong?

That’s a hard question to answer as healthcare is one of the most complex industries that exists, but most people are aware there is a doctor shortage and I would argue that’s because Canada lags behind other countries in two main areas: policy and investment.

In a recent OECD healthcare survey, countries ranked the importance of improving wait times.  Despite having the longest waits of any country surveyed, Canada only ranked wait time policy as “medium to high” priority.  Canada is also one of the few counties that doesn’t set hard wait time targets, which has become common practice in most parts of the world.  Instead, Canada only “reviews and evaluates wait time data”, but there is no accountability.  To take this a step further, many other countries not only have access targets, but they also have access guarantees.  In Denmark, a patient is guaranteed to see a doctor within 30 days.  In Finland, that guarantee is <3 weeks.  In Lithuania, it’s <7 days. 

What can our leaders do?

It is well past time that our leaders adopt these practices and take responsibility for every patient that is left behind.

When it comes to investment, our single payer system has failed to provide adequate funding to doctors.  When just south of the border a family doctor can see a more than 50% increase in salary with better working conditions it is imperative that you do more to incentivize and attract doctors to practice in Canada.  Instead Canada has been reducing the physician fee schedule and in fact creating penalties for family doctors when their patients access a walk-in clinic.  While the intent is to drive physician behavior that prioritizes access and patient experience the outcome is the exact opposite – fewer physicians going into family medicine

If our government cannot solve the doctor shortage alone, it is time that they look to the private sector for help.  In most other countries, consumer technology and telemedicine companies have heeded the call to rapidly increase access to providers both in-person and remote.  Yet the Canadian government has been slow to adopt such trends, despite the Ontario Medical Association calling the rise of virtual care during the pandemic a success story.

How we’re trying to help

At Medimap, we’re building the most comprehensive real-time healthcare navigation platform in Canada.  We’ve already partnered with thousands of clinics, pharmacies, and healthcare providers across the country and we won’t stop until every patient gets the care they need.

Want to read more from our leadership team? Check out “How I Found a Family Doctor in Ontario”.

Check out the difference health care providers we have on Medimap for what that best suits your needs.

About the author

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Teddy Wickland

VP Operations at Medimap | Website

Teddy is Vice President of Operations at Medimap, a leading digital health company focused on helping patients get access to care faster and more conveniently. Teddy has spent more than a decade working in healthtech as a consultant, operator, and investor. When he's not wearing his Medimap hat he can usually be found with his two children at soccer, ballet, or art class. Teddy is also a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and an active alumni.

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