Canada primary care system eroding

Does this sound familiar?

Rick Trimp, executive director of Population Health for Saskatchewan, says the primary care doctors of Canada have a narrowing set of skills and therefore are acting more like traffic cops directing patients to specialists.

Many no longer set fractures or do minor surgeries, he said. And, like in the United States, more of Canada’s medical students are heading to high-pay specialty practices.

That raises costs for Canada’s nationalized health care, which now accounts for 11.4% of the nation’s GDP. Health care inflation is rising faster than the growth of Canadian GDP.

That compares to more than 17.9% of GDP in the America, which has the only specialty-driven system in the world, and to 8-10% in countries like Germany, France and the U.K., all of which are grounded in primary care.

Canada is developing strategies, Trimp said, to rebalance toward primary care.

In the private sector in America, large companies are racing to install primary care clinics on site. They want “medical homes” for their employees so care can be intimate, convenient and integrated.

In those clinics, employers regain control of the front end of the supply chain for health care and gain the capacity to address costly chronic diseases in a proactive manner.

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