Monday, January 10, 2011

For patients out of patience

I'm back from Minnesota where I, along with a brother, attended the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Prior to this trip I thought the Americans should examine our health care system when developing the Obama plan, pick that which is good from our system, and avoid making some of the mistakes we may have made. I didn't truly think there was anything we could learn from them in terms of health care.

Now I am convinced that the Mayo Clinic should be the template for all health care services.

The patient starts with a physician consultation that is more than five minutes long. The doctor spends the necessary time to get a complete medical background on the patient before deciding on a course of action. Tests are done to both eliminate and confirm suspected causes of concern and those tests are done on site and in a timely manner. The patient is referred to other health care specialists within the clinic for their opinions. Doctors and support staff work as a team, each member of the team contributing to the diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.

There was no waiting for hours on end. If your appointment was booked for 10:30 a.m., you were seen at 10:30 a.m. Each member of the team had access to test results and information provided by others who had seen the patient.

In short, everyone involved added their piece to the puzzle and within days the picture was complete. The Clinic is operated efficiently and effectively. It has rightly earned its reputation as being one of the best health care service centres in the world.

Why can't we operate like this in Saskatchewan?

While I was experiencing this clinic I was also reading this blog on the CUPE survey. We might not need to do these surveys if our system operated in a similar fashion to the Mayo. We might even save a few tax dollars if diseases were caught and treated in their early stages. Hell, we might even save lives.

Regretfully our health care system has become more about politics than patients. And many of us are running out of patience.

P.S. A big thank you to my guest blogger/helper during my absence.


  1. But if Canada did anything to emulate the outstanding service provided at the Mayo Clinic.....then gasp..... we'd be en route to hell in a hand basket for doing anything similar to the Americans health care wise.

    Our system is all about being able to say 'Universal Health Care'. It is a joke when MRIs take months to get an appointment (unless you are in an emergency), that appointments with some specialists take nearly a half year to get into and surgeries time can be even longer than that. But in the end we can say we have universal health care, regardless of how bad it is.

    For the amount of money we put into health care (about 50% of our tax dollars) you would think we could properly build a system that would serve the 30 million residents in Canada. Instead, we have money wasted and anyone who dares to seek ways to improve the system are branded as being pushing for privatized health care.

    The defenders of Tommy and his legacy are so blinded that they don't even realize that he would be embarrassed by the system as it is run today, at how it has no consideration for individual patients.

    Thank you for posting this Mistress, although I fear for you that an onslaught of the zealots will soon be here to defend our crappy system.

  2. I think we can have both universal health care and a system that works as efficiently as the Mayo Clinic.

    However, I agree with the Mistress on this one, the system has become top heavy and is no longer patient focused.

    That being said, I'd still take our system over the US system. Never once have I or a family member had to worry about paying to see a doctor or have surgery. In that sense, we are light years ahead of the US.

  3. I agree for the most part with you Sean. However, in a roundabout way we all do still pay (or at least the working folk do). The only difference is we are handed our health care bill every April and it is based on our income and not impacted by how much/little we use the system. But I agree, not having to bring your wallet to check out of the hospital is a nice feature.

    While we are ahead of the States in many aspects our system is still substandard. In the WHO's last health care system rankings (2000) we placed 30th (States were 37th). It is not like the majority of citizens, or the rest of the world for that matter, view our system as top notch.

    We are so caught up in claiming to have universal health care that we ignore the fact that our system sucks. We cannot get timely care for those who need it. After the rankings were released I read something which always stuck with me, it is as follows:

    "The performance ranking links overall health system achievement to health system expenditure. Canada ranked 7th in overall health-system achievement and 10th in terms of health spending, but fell to 30th when these 2 measures were combined because the methodology considers what could be achieved in a country given the level of resources available."

    That about sums it up. We divert so much to a system that does so little. Rather than be satisfied with simply having universal it would be nice if we could collectively improve the system that will collapse within the next 20 years barring major changes.

  4. FYI: The link to the NDP watch is incorrect.

  5. "That being said, I'd still take our system over the US system. Never once have I or a family member had to worry about paying to see a doctor or have surgery. In that sense, we are light years ahead of the US."

    What's the use of not worrying about paying for service when you have lousy service?

    The majority of Canadians -- like the majority of Americans -- do not need to have subsidized health care to begin with. We should allow private health services to compete for work, and we should be allowed to purchase private medical insurance. If people cannot afford insurance, then have an alternative, government-sponsored plan for them.

    But don't give me that bunk that if we had a private care system, every single one of us would be "worrying about paying to see a doctor or have surgery." Tha's typical fear-mongering NDP blather.


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