When the Health Council of Canada issued its Value for Money Report asking: “Are Canadians getting the best value for the $172-billion they now spend annually on health care?”, CARP decided to get the answers for them.
The Health Council is a public funded agency mandated to evaluate progress in advancing the 2003 Health Accord. In publishing this Report, the Health Council sought to get Canadians talking about these issues and invited people to visit their website to “join the conversation”. At this writing, about 600 people have provided input to their online poll.
Meanwhile, as soon as it was released, CARP outlined the Report in CARP ActionOnline, our online newsletter sent to 50,000 opt-in subscribers updating them on the latest advocacy issues. Surveys are sometimes included to gather input which we use to inform our advocacy priorities. These surveys are becoming increasingly popular with the CARP ActionOnline readers.
In this case, we asked them to tell us what should be done to get more value out of the health care system and the response was immediate and clear. 1,940 CARP ActionOnline readers wanted more done with their healthcare dollars, online access to their medical records and legislated service benchmarks with consequences. Click here to see full poll results
A majority [57%] do not believe that throwing more money at the healthcare system will fix it. Instead, the respondents supported one of three options – multi-disciplinary health care teams [36%], more home care [23.5%] and more prevention and wellness promotion [35%]. This reinforces our position that there are smarter ways to spend the burgeoning health care budget and people do not want to choose between spending more money or cutting services. There is a third way to relieve pressure on the healthcare budget that policy makers must consider.
An overwhelming majority [96%] supported legislated service benchmarks, such as wait times guarantees – in ERs, to see specialists, to get home care [66%], improving patient health – lowered blood pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation [14%] and use of prevention – vaccination, testing, counselling [13%]. And perhaps not surprisingly, respondents were ready to impose sanctions if their health care providers [including doctors] do not meet these service benchmarks. They would cut their pay or funding [41%], impose fines [19%] or terminate or close the health care provider [20%]. Only 16% would impose no sanctions. People want accountability – not only for the 40% of their tax dollars that public health care spending represents but also for meeting their expectations for service. The days of “trust me” are over. People also want to have more information about their own medical treatment and are prepared to have their medical records online to facilitate that access. Only 22% felt that medical records should not be online. Most [41%] wanted to access their online medical records along with their doctors and a further 30% were prepared to give access to their family and friends involved in their care. The message to those tasked with developing and implementing the e-health initiatives across the country, is: ‘Get on with it!’ And to those still balking at the prospect: ‘Get moving or move aside!’