Doc Talk #39 – Patients as partners in transforming healthcare



In this edition of Doc Talk, Dr Dan and Jamieson talked about the shift from patients being passive consumers to actively involved in designing the future of healthcare.

A brief but important disclaimer: as ever the opinions of Dr Dan on Doc Talk are entirely his own and not necessarily reflective of those  of any organization with which he works.

Time have changed and we no longer admit patients with back pain to our hospital as inpatients for a week of heat pad treatment. The delivery of healthcare is different from how it used to be, and it continues to evolve.

Healthcare takes up an extraordinary amount of the provincial budget, costing $2.4 million/hour in Alberta. If we are to ensure that the costs of healthcare don’t spiral out of control and preserve free access to healthcare, it is important that everyone including government, AHS, providers (including physicians) and patients work together.

Communities have traditionally been defined or at least had their identity deeply tied to their healthcare institutions (often hospitals). Every community, large or small, in Alberta constantly says “more is needed”. However, we probably have enough resources to go around, but we have to make sure that we use them in the right way.

We need to base healthcare spending on patient need. Patients have a major role in determining what constitutes need and helping to design the healthcare system of the future. To borrow a phrase used by the National Health Service in the UK (although that is no great exemplar for a whole host of reasons, but they had some good ideas in among the chaos):

No decision about me without me

We mentioned a couple of ways of getting involved in local healthcare planning. One is the Yellowhead East Advisory Council which has meetings open to the public. Another is through the Central Zone Long Range Planning process, there have already been a number of community engagement events and they also have a blog/website here.