Two health care documents will have an impact on local hospitals for some time to come.
Members of the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance started their March 1 board meeting (in Wingham) with discussion of Ontario’s Action Plan For Health Care, and the Drummond Report.
CAO Karl Ellis provided summaries of both documents for board members. The first document focuses on access to better care; the second is about cutting the Ontario deficit.
Among the issues discussed was the “open acccess” concept in the Action Plan document. Dr. Mark Moores said open access (no appointments) was “great in theory” but had some definite limitations. “It’s become a catch phrase,” he said. Moores said that while the first 25 or 30 people who call get in the same day, he wonders about people who work. “It has its benefits, but it’s not the whole answer,” Moores said.
The board members also discussed funding models – global funding versus procedure based funding.
One area explored in the Action Plan is a model that puts general practitioners in the role of navigating the system on behalf of their patients, to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
Ellis said this particular model pretty much describes what physicians in Listowel and Wingham are already doing. “We have the physicians working in both the hospitals and their clinics. It’s different from urban (health care) where there are gaps… we’re probably a little ahead of the game.”
Evidence based medicine (“cookie cutter medicine”) is one item that will certainly impact local health care. Ellis said it’s the direction Ontario seems to be going. He explained it as “if you don’t follow the prescribed practice, you don’t get paid.”
There are both positives and negatives. Moores said, “Standardized medicine is good for 75 per cent of patients… at least 25 per cent of medicine is the ‘art’ of medicine – knowing your patient and years of experience. We have to remember there’s always the unique situation.”
At the same time, evidence-based medicine will save money. Moores pointed to the PSA test (for prostate cancer) as an excellent example. After 20 years of pushing the screening test, there was no proof it saved lives. “The evidence is clear,” said Moores.
The Drummond Report focuses on smaller increases in health care funding, with home care probably needing a “bigger piece of the pie.”…please read more in this weeks Wingham Advance Times