As the sustainability of Canada’s health care system is questioned, innovative solutions are being called for to rejuvenate the publicly funded design. In order to create a more sustainable system of health care, a movement toward preventative strategies and services is necessary.
Canada’s national health care program is based on the fundamental principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. Effort is required to maintain the integrity of our program and the provision of insured preventative services plays an integral role to keep it up.
Currently, the processes associated with the Lean philosophy are being aggressively established throughout the Saskatchewan health care system. This approach is one which is patient-focused, aiming to reduce waste by eliminating activities that do not add value.
Although there is some controversy surrounding its implementation, the intention is that Lean will empower employees in the system to generate and implement value-added innovative solutions to problems.
Establishing practices which increase safety, improve health outcomes and decrease costs is necessary, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.
We still have a system which is fundamentally reactive in nature. The majority of our care is directed at illness care and treatment — providing for those who are already sick.
It is recognized that there have been vital programs introduced aiming to prevent future consequences of disease progression, such as those directed at chronic disease management. Still, we need more programs aimed at actually preventing chronic diseases.
Let’s focus on the promotion of physical activity. Why is it that most health insurance policies provide coverage for prescription drugs than for gym memberships? One may argue that a gym membership is not required for physical activity, but that isn’t really the point.
Let’s consider the fact that an individual may not require medications if physical activity was dutifully carried out on a daily basis.
What if physical activity complexes were viewed in the same light as medical clinics and hospitals — as facilities that are publicly promoted as crucial and accessed to prevent detriment?
Physical activity should receive the same devoted funding that medical care receives. Furthermore, physical activity should be established as an integral preventative facet of medical care.
The need to increase the accessibility to food which contributes to a well-rounded healthy diet is also part of the solution.
When you visit the Government of Saskatchewan website, you can find a plethora of links relating to prevention on everything from impetigo to cancer.
Many of these disease prevention strategies include maintaining a healthy diet. As many of us are aware, access to healthy foods isn’t equitable. Harnessing a healthy diet is just not possible for many people, especially in the lower income bracket.
For these individuals, not being able to maintain a healthy diet further perpetuates the health disparities that they experience.
Without question, providing public funding for preventative services will save us money down the line. We need to continually reassert the mentality of spending money now in order to save much more later on.
It should be required of all of us to strive for becoming advocates of our own health. In addition, we need to recognize when others require our support to achieve their own best possible state of health.
The obligation of personal responsibility does not negate the need for a movement toward more publicly funded preventative services.
The need for integral reactive services certainly would not be extinguished by placing more emphasis on preventative services; however, it would decrease the overwhelmingly reactive nature of our system.
It would be foolish to deny that the sustainability of our healthcare system is at stake. If we take steps in the right direction now, we can maintain the integrity of the principles our system was built on.
Graphic: Stephanie Mah