Ottawa mulls ensuring patient access to their data
October 18, 2023
CHARLOTTETOWN – Health ministers from across the country wrapped up two days of meetings in Prince Edward Island and the federal Health Minister responded by issuing five “concrete” priorities for Ottawa to focus on. Federal Health Minister Mark Holland (pictured) listed those items in a communique:
- A focus on retention, by creating a nursing retention tool kit for provinces;
- A new examination of healthcare training and supply demands in Canada, with a focus on supporting Indigenous people interested in health careers;
- A reduction in the time it takes for internationally educated health professionals to begin working in Canada, by allowing them to begin the credential process overseas. There will also be a 90-day standard for provincial professional colleges to recognize those credentials once the workers are here;
- Progress on labour mobility to allow health workers to work anywhere in the country, starting with doctors this year and nurses in future years;
- A new “Centre of Excellence for the Future of the Health Workforce” to improve the sharing and availability of workforce data and planning to better understand Canada’s future healthcare needs. That way when there are staffing crunches, provinces can see it coming and prepare.
Holland said another priority will be digital healthcare, which “we’ve been talking about for a long time.” That change could come in the form of a pan-Canadian health data charter, which would give Canadians online access to their medical records.
“This charter emphasizes the importance of putting people at the centre of our healthcare system, and ensuring they have access to their own health information,” Holland said.
The two-day conference came at a time when many are saying Canada’s healthcare situation is in crisis. As well as the groups representing doctors and nurses, the ministers also heard from other healthcare professionals and organizations from across the country.
One of the attendees was Dr. Mike Howlett, president of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. He said to fix the growing problem of a lack of care beds, governments need to be investing in long-term care homes for seniors.
“We need better long-term care, long-term complex care for people, better functional care for the elderly. Then people who are in hospitals, that are very ill and then get treated and who are stable again, have a place to go,” Howlett told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
“Because, right now, [in] any of our hospitals in the country, 10 to 25 percent of the patients in hospital are ready to go home and can’t go home.”
Similarly, the Canadian Medical Association shared its own list of priorities with ministers as well as ideas on how to improve health care across the country.
Association president Dr. Kathleen Ross said the goal is to increase the number of Canadians with a primary care provider to 90 percent in five years and 95 percent in 10 years.
“That’s a critical piece of our recommendations,” Ross told CBC Island Morning host Mitch Cormier. “To get there we need to recruit, retain and really look at training more healthcare workers.”
She also said the association would like to see more collaborative practices where teams of healthcare providers – made up of pharmacists and physiotherapists as well as nurse practitioners and doctors – work together to provide patient care rather than have individual care rely on a single healthcare provider.
A model of that practice she pointed to was Charlottetown’s Sherwood Medical Home, which Ross called “a model to be looked up to. “As this expands across P.E.I., and certainly we’re hoping across the country, this is a way for us to get a wide variety of those basic healthcare services delivered to our citizens.”