• Now, more than ever, we need to solve Ontario’s health-care crisis of capacity

    Our health-care system is simply too lean. Ontario needs more hospitals, more rehab facilities and more long-term-care beds. We need health-care professionals to staff all these new sites, plus ease shortages at the ones we already have. This will mean money… enthusiasm for new large expenditures will be limited. But we can’t deny reality.

  • The time has come for Ontario to pass Rowan’s Law and make sports safer for kids

    Introduced by Kathleen Wynne’s government before Christmas, the bill would put Ontario ahead of other provinces in responding to emerging science around concussions. It includes protocol for the removal and return to sport of young athletes suspected to have concussions… there would be no excuse for letting this bill die and be resurrected only after the election.

  • It’s time to fix medicare’s innovation problem

    The basic problem is that the way we finance and deliver health care in our country hasn’t changed all that much… the federal-provincial framework for medicare hasn’t moved beyond covering hospitals and doctors. For drugs and many important services, we have a national patchwork with gaping holes. Extending coverage is harder without integrated financing… CMMI is the source of ideas like bundling all payments to hospitals and professionals alike when financing complex services that bridge hospitals and homes

  • For better mental-health care in Canada, look to Britain

    One in five Canadians will experience mental-health problems this year – many with depression and anxiety – yet care is difficult to access… The irony? Good treatments already exist. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a brief therapy that focuses on how thoughts affect mood and behaviour – is highly effective. Yet access is a profound problem… IAPT shows that other health professionals trained to administer evidence-based treatments can help people with milder illness.

  • Hallway medicine is what ails Ontario’s hospital system

    Pent-up patient demand that took years to build up can’t be tamped down anytime soon, not after years of government restraint over health spending… hospital spending wasn’t cut — it continued to increase, but only by bending the curve to a lower, slower, more sustainable rate of growth… The problem is that longer-term care hasn’t grown fast enough in the short term, nor has home care or community care.

  • Most mental-health patients don’t get timely psychiatric care in Ontario, study finds

    Basically, the system allows for the most expensive and highly trained experts in the field to provide long-term, psychological treatment to people who may not need it – while the most severely ill wait in line for even an initial consultation… in countries such as Britain and Australia… psychiatrists serve almost exclusively as consultants, provide continuing care for the most severe mental illnesses, and are paid significantly less to provide talk therapy.

  • How we buy drugs is affecting the costs

    A national pharmacare plan would mean that every Canadian would be on one single, national drug formulary (list of drugs). It means that every Canadian would be covered by one drug plan, and that the plan would cover those drugs that work most effectively, backed by evidence, and whereby clinical benefit justifies the cost… Consumers would still be able to get access to higher priced drugs not on the formulary, but they would have to pay out of pocket.

  • Better planning could save Ontario hundreds of millions in health costs: Auditor-General

    For 20 commonly used generic drugs, Ontario paid $100-million more than the cost of the same drugs in New Zealand… the Kiwis tender competitive bids from drug manufacturers, something Ontario does not do… the Health Ministry spends more on generic drugs than the province’s hospitals – who can buy drugs through their own programs… Despite significant advances in technology, the government has not updated the list of prices it pays for laboratory tests in nearly 20 years, according to the report… Had a new price list been in place, the government could have saved $39-million last year alone.

  • Prescription drug costs should be fair – not cheap

    … the federal government has introduced new regulations that, if implemented, will result in the biggest shake-up in prescription drug pricing in 30 years… [with] estimated savings of $12.7-billion over 10 years… countries are moving away from international price comparisons and embracing concepts like value-based pricing – where drugs are reimbursed based on how well they work. This requires active and transparent negotiation with industry, not just imposing new formulas.

  • The radical ex-hippie who infiltrated Ontario’s health-care establishment

    His improbable trajectory has taken him from firebrand to respected senior hospital executive. Along the way, he has established himself as one of Canada’s strongest advocates for disadvantaged patients… a skilled, hard-working, team-playing professional. He is credited with using his leadership roles to help develop a multitude of programs and services for disenfranchised patients. But when conventional means of addressing gaps in their care didn’t work, a different Philip Berger would emerge