Whether you pick up a newspaper, watch the news or check out
what's trending on Twitter across Canada, you're bound to
find something related to Canada's or a specific province or
territory's health system. Often it is a story about a
government or health region's new program that is going to
streamline service or a new technology that is going to
"save" the system. What you don't see as often is an
article on what is driving the need for all this change.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Emily Greene Balch once said, "The
future will be determined in part by happenings that it is
impossible to foresee; it will also be influenced by trends that
are now existent and observable." Taking heed of trends and
learning how to adapt health services to them will be paramount to
any jurisdiction's success in delivering the health services
individuals require in the most appropriate, safe manner with the
Below are 10 health sector trends (in no particular order) that
are worth keeping an eye on.
1. Prevalence of inter-professional service delivery
models — Gone are the days when services were
provided by health care providers in isolation of one another.
Collaborative and integrated professional and para-professional
care models are the new norm.
2. Increased information-sharing amongst
providers — With the movement toward
inter-professional care comes a need for increased
information-sharing across these providers.
3. Accountability — See my previous blogs
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) for more on how the need for increased
transparency and demonstration of value and accountability in the
system is influencing health care.
4. Increasing service demand —
Substantial increases in service demand resulting from the
prevalence of chronic diseases and aging populations will
increasingly impact health service delivery.
5. Cost containment — Mounting pressure
on governments and providers to contain costs and increase
alternative sources of revenue while maintaining access to services
is expected to continue to influence health services delivery.
Realities such as aging populations, continued advances in
expensive diagnostic tools and skyrocketing drug costs, to name a
few, will challenge health policy makers and service providers.
6. Funding model changes — Many
jurisdictions across Canada are experimenting with changes to
funding models to drive integration and better alignment with
population needs and service use, impacting the way facilities and
programs are funded.
7. Consumerism and person-centred care —
Consumerism is pushing the need for care to be increasingly
personal and innovative, allowing for consumer choice.
8. Transitions in care — The movement of
patients through care settings and the need to ensure patients are
receiving care in the most appropriate settings is influencing
everything from facility design and location to health care
9. Aging populations — Aging populations
will lead to increases in the number of people suffering from
chronic, expensive-to-treat diseases and disabilities, straining
health care systems.
10. Evidence-based medicine — Data on
outcomes will increasingly be used to develop standard protocols
for treating many diseases.
These are, of course, just some of the many factors that will
influence health services in Canada in the coming years. Health
care leaders, policy makers, providers, administrators and
caregivers will have no shortage of challenges and opportunities to
adapt to in order to meet the ongoing health care needs of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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