Drummond Report to Ontario: cut costs, improve healthcare

February 2012 – Last week, the Drummond Commission Report was released confirming CARP’s long-standing advocacy that government can save money and improve healthcare through strategic reforms focussing on patient centred, integrated, continuing care.

In the long-awaited report, economist Don Drummond makes 362 recommendations targeted at a variety of provincial programs and services in order to address the $14 billion (2010-2011) Ontario deficit that is only expected to grow. While Drummond largely focuses on how the province can address the deficit, his proposed healthcare reforms show that the healthcare system can be improved without resorting to unfettered spending.

Ontario is Not Alone in Need to Reform Healthcare

Ontario is not alone in facing a large deficit and ballooning healthcare costs. Drummond’s recommendations, particularly in the realm of healthcare – which made up about a quarter of the report’s contents – are useful lessons for every province as they adjust to changing demographics. One such recommendation suggests that drug benefits become means-tested, while others focus on how to make the most of provincial healthcare dollars.

Healthcare spending is the single largest public expense in every province, in some cases it’s getting close to amounting to fifty percent of provincial spending. The worry over the sustainability and quality of healthcare continues to concern provinces as the need for and cost of healthcare rises.

Drummond, who consulted with CARP in advance of the report, argues that there clearly is room for improvement. His report emphasizes the need for broad revamping of healthcare systems, making “the parts work better together, so that the whole is greater than – or at the very least equal to – the sum of the parts.”

CARP Has Often and Consistently Called for Healthcare Reform

CARP has long been advocating for many of the recommendations that Drummond outlines, insisting that these changes should be implemented across Canada in anticipation of growing pressure on healthcare systems.

For example, CARP has advocated for drug reform that would have the provinces coordinate to bulk purchase drugs, thereby reducing the cost to the provinces and improving access to patients. Likewise, CARP has advocated for a move away from institutional long-term care toward home-based care. Homecare is widely preferred to institutional care and is much more affordable.

Other Drummond Report recommendations that echo CARP’s positioning, include:

Coordinating services and integrating all health and patient care services for better access and more efficient use of resources.

Supporting a shift towards ensuring a continuum of care and care that is community-based. Funding for community-based care may need to grow at a higher rate in the short to medium term in order to build capacity to take pressure off acute care facilities; shifting away from a hospital focus would lead to slower growth in hospital costs.

* Placing more emphasis on chronic than acute care. Chronic issues should be handled in the home and community to the fullest extent possible.

*Reducing the number of future long-term care facilities and instead, emphasize home- and community based care.

* Introducing system navigators to help patients navigate through the healthcare system.

CARP has long advocated for changes that would not only enhance access, quality, and delivery of current healthcare services, but contain costs in the process. We will continue to promote innovative changes that will help to maximize quality of care and better health outcomes while reducing costs borne by governments.

To Read the Full Report, Click here