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Government panel takes a look at health care in Canada.

OTTAWA -- While Canada's health care systems remain a source of national pride and provide important services to millions of people, the scope of public coverage is narrow, and the systems' overall performance is middling by international standards, says a government panel.

And national health care spending is high relative to many developed countries, notes the group's report, "Unleashing Innovation: Excellent Healthcare for Canada." The country also appears to be losing ground in performance measures relative to peers.

While pockets of extraordinary creativity and innovation dot the Canadian health care landscape, local, regional and provincial programs worthy of emulation have simply not been scaled up nationwide, says the group, the Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation.

Many hurdles to scaling up were identified by stakeholders. One key challenge is the lack of dedicated funding or a mechanism to drive systemic innovation. As well, the fragmented nature of the system --with separate budgets for different provider groups and sectors--emerged as the most significant structural barrier to both new reform initiatives and the effective scaling-up of well-tested ideas and programs.

"This shortcoming appeared to be operating in a vicious cycle with slow deployment and incomplete utilization of modern information technology," states the report's executive summary.

The panel also observed that Canada's systems appear to be ill prepared to respond to shifts in the health care landscape. Patients are demanding more participation in their own care and engagement with the design of health programs. As the population ages, there will be a greater premium on seamless delivery of multidisciplinary care across diverse settings, including patients' homes. The digital revolution will sooner or later transform health care.

"Moreover, accelerating advances in biotechnology are now ushering in an exciting but challenging new era of precision medicine," the executive summary says. "Canada has pockets of research leadership in this field, but only one small province has taken steps toward implementation of the required learning systems to make precision medicine a clinical reality."

The panel identified five broad areas where federal action is important to promote innovation and enhance both the quality and sustainability of Canadian health care:

* Patient engagement and empowerment.

* Health systems' integration with workforce modernization.

* Technological transformation via digital health and precision medicine.

* Better value from procurement, reimbursement and regulation.

* Industry as an economic driver and innovation catalyst.

The report is based on scores of submissions from organizations and individuals, online consultations, and in-person discussions with a wide range of stakeholders. The panel also reviewed literature and commissioned research studies, and spoke with experts in both domestic and international health care policy.

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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 10, 2015
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