Medicinal Fast Food
What if we treated medicine like fast food?
Imagine a time in the future in which no matter where you travelled, whether in the province of Ontario or anywhere across Canada, you could instantly recognize a medical health centre. It would have a distinct Canadian logo distinguishing it from every other building.
It would have a complete array of physicians, from family to specialists. It would have a lab, a pharmacy, a diagnostic imaging department and operating rooms for elective surgery such as knee replacements, hip replacements and cataract surgery. There would be a walk-in clinic for minor ailments and a division for alternative treatments where you could see a chiropractor or a naturopath. The pharmacy would be equally divided between prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies and an equal size section for natural supplements.
It may be a dream but this is something our country should have because of the shameful inconsistent way in which the health care needs of Canadians vary from province to province and even from town to town.
Although we have National Health Care in this country, it is up to each province to act individually in its administration. Each province decides which medical procedures they will pay for and which ones they will not. And then, even if a procedure is covered by the government, some physicians, especially in the Maritimes, refuse to do abortions or even prescribe birth control pills. This means a patient may have to travel 100 kilometers or more to another town for treatment.
Each province is allowed to publish their own formulary of drugs that the individual provinces will pay for. If you need a specific drug for your colon cancer in New Brunswick, it may not be covered but a patient in Ontario may get it for free. It is ridiculous that each province should even be involved in making their own formulary when it should be the same for all people across our land.
They say; “be nice to your children because they pick your nursing home”. If you wind up in a long term facility in your old age, the regulations in each province are totally different. In some provinces you may only be allowed one bath a week. Your family may have to supplement your stay with extra money for nursing care because the number of hours the government cares for you vary from province to province. Even the money for your stay varies considerably and depends on your assets.
If you are sick or injured here in the province of Ontario you will probably receive reasonable health care. But suppose, as an Ontario resident you get sick in another province. If it’s Quebec, you better get back to Ontario as soon as possible because your treatment there will be almost non-existent. British Columbia will treat you well but the Maritimes will do almost nothing for you at all. In Saskatchewan residents do not pay for health insurance. As a result they have the worst medical care in Canada. Imagine the care you would receive if you were visiting that province? Recently in Cape Breton, they had to close the emergency ward because there was not one doctor in the hospital. A patient in the waiting room died of a heart attack while waiting for the one doctor to show up. Why should medical treatment in another province be as difficult as medical treatment out of the country? We need a consistent system that exists for every Canadian across Canada to treat us all equally and fairly even if we happen to be outside of our province.
Times are changing but very slowly. The day of the one doctor in a building or a house is disappearing. More and more physicians are grouping together and when they do we can usually find a pharmacy and a walk-in clinic. But it is not enough. What we need is one-stop shopping for medical care.
We need to put all the control of our health care into the Federal government. They could produce one drug formulary that would be used in every province; one list of all the medical procedures covered for every patient and one set of rules and regulations for all residents of long-care facilities. This would be universal health care the way it was meant to be administered.
The extra money saved by having only one office do all this work, rather than a complete staff in every province, could then be used to create a chain of Medical Centers all across Canada.
In order to implement this program, we need to hire a special person. Not a doctor or a government employee, but a former CEO of McDonalds or Tim Hortons. They know how to create these locations with amazing consistency and colour schemes. All of these medical centers would be identical and very recognizable as we travel all over our country from province to province. If you were in Langley, B.C. or Smooth Rock Falls in Ontario, your electronic medical records would be easily accessible to all the physicians in the building. The pharmacy in each unit could bring up your entire list of medications to insure you do not get the wrong drug or one that is contraindicated or can cause an allergic reaction. The chiropractor could view your latest X-ray and determine the correct course of treatment.
With a fast-food chain concept, whenever you travelled anywhere in this country you would have complete peace of mind knowing that when you see that familiar logo, excellent health care is assured, no matter where you are. Depending on who is hired as the CEO, they may bring some of their former experience with them and that may include a Tim Horton’s or a Starbucks in every facility. Of course as Canadians we would prefer timmies.
My hope is that this dream becomes a reality, at least for my grandchildren, so they may have the greatest medical care in the world.