Tag: access to care

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Telemedicine on the rise across Canada

It’s still far from routine, but telemedicine is quietly growing across Canada. Last year, a pilot project with a portable robot was launched in Saskatchewan. And telemedicine programs in Ontario have been growing by around 30% per year for the last several years, according to David Jensen, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. Telemedicine can…

The rise of the private patient advocate

Patient advocate

After bouncing around doctors’ offices in an effort to treat her debilitating back pain, Maureen had become discouraged with the lack of progress. She had seen multiple specialists yet nothing seemed to provide relief, and she began to feel disillusioned as she struggled to navigate the health care system. “I seemed to be spending a…

Ontario’s private outpatient lab sector needs overhaul, say critics

Community labs

Ontario’s system for funding private medical laboratories has been controversial since it was set up almost two decades ago. Now, facing critics who have only gotten louder, the government may be considering reform. In her mandate letter after last year’s election, Premier Kathleen Wynne asked Health Minister Eric Hoskins to “explore opportunities to optimize quality…

Are family doctors cherry picking patients?

When Anne Lyddiatt’s family doctor retired, she went looking for a new one.  The Ingersoll, Ontario resident thought she’d found one for herself, her two daughters, and her granddaughter, and they filled out application forms with their health information. But only one of the four was accepted: the daughter who had no chronic conditions. “When…

Hospital parking: health care’s controversial cost

Shalimar Novak is sick of paying for parking. The social worker has been to Toronto’s Mount Sinai once or twice a week recently for appointments related to her pregnancy, and paid about $15 every time. “It definitely adds up,” she says. “And when you have a kid coming, you’re thinking in diaper dollars. It would be nice…

Despite Ontario’s Northern Health Travel Grant, some still pay out of pocket

Northern Travel Grant

When Nan Normand’s husband had quintuple bypass surgery, it cost them $1,500. It wasn’t the operation that was pricey, but the travel. The couple went from Kenora, a small city near the Ontario-Manitoba border, to Hamilton for the surgery. The trek included flights and a multiple-night stay. Normand was unlucky: Manitoba had temporarily stopped accepting most Ontario heart patients,…

Urgent surgery: a forgotten wait time?

urgent care

There is a growing body of research suggesting that patients with urgent surgical needs are waiting too long for surgery. From the time that they present to an emergency department to being booked in for surgery, they can experience many periods of prolonged waits. While wait times for elective surgery are measured in Canada, waits for urgent surgery are not.

Access to expensive drugs: greater demand, improved transparency

Each weekday, staff at the Exceptional Access Program (EAP) of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care receive between 250 and 300 requests for special prescription medications. These prescription drugs—typically expensive medications that are felt to be cost effective only when used to treat selected patients with specific problems—are not on the province’s regular…

Interpretation services in health care

Interpretation services in health care

“We have a large immigrant population, and people sometimes have no English. This program has been a godsend.” –- Winnipeg pediatrician Stan Lipnowski Obtaining a good history is the most important thing in practising medicine, so being able to get that history about the children of new immigrants has made a “humungous difference”, says Stan…

Improving quality and access in Ontario’s privately owned colonoscopy clinics

Improving quality and access in Ontario’s privately owned colonoscopy clinics

Five years ago, researchers in Ontario raised concerns about access and quality in privately owned clinics that performed colonoscopy, suggesting that the quality in these clinics was significantly below the standard of care in public hospitals. Privately owned clinics can be either for-profit or not-for-profit. Medical services provided at these private clinics are paid for…

The next challenges for primary care in Ontario

The next challenges for primary care in Ontario

Over the last year, reports have suggested some of Ontario’s new primary care models, which are significantly more expensive than older practice models, have had limited success in improving access and quality. In response, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is conducting a review of these models, and had recently instituted a temporary…

Filling a gap: Ontario’s walk-in clinics

Walk In Clinics Ontario

About one in four Ontarians visit a walk-in clinic each year. While the government has made access to family doctors a key priority, there is no policy framework for walk-in clinics. Although walk-in clinics have been part of Ontario’s health care landscape for decades, they remain controversial. Walk-in clinics have generally been excluded from government…

Head first: birth centres in Ontario

Integrated Maternity Care

Ontario recently announced funding for two birth centres that will be led by midwives. The government has indicated it is opening birth centres partly to move care out of hospitals and save money. Although birth centres are probably safe and may improve maternity care, it is less clear whether Ontario’s birth centres will indeed reduce…

Charging patients for services: much confusion, little consensus

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) does not cover all health services that can be provided by a doctor. These “uninsured” services include telephone renewal of prescriptions, writing sick notes for work or school and transferring medical records. Doctors can offer patients the option of paying for a set of uninsured services with a single…

Need & access to bariatric surgery in Ontario

The frequency of obesity has skyrocketed across Canada, and its treatment is a major challenge to the health care system.  Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity that appears to be good value for money.  Although Ontario is expanding bariatric surgery capacity, some are concerned that capacity remains below current needs.  What is bariatric…

Gridlock in Ontario’s hospitals

About one in six beds in Ontario’s hospitals are occupied by patients who no longer need hospital care. These beds are called Alternate Level of Care (ALC) beds. Because ALC beds are not available for sick patients in the emergency department, ALC beds are an important cause of emergency department overcrowding. The term ‘gridlock’, used…