Reform of the Healthcare System Requires Innovation

Art Sinclair, VP of Advocacy, Greater KW Chamber of Commerce

Art Sinclair, VP of Advocacy, Greater KW Chamber of Commerce

Last month I wrote about the fiscal challenges facing hospitals in Waterloo Region and in particular the layoffs at the Grand River institution.

The recent provincial budget provided some relief, with an allocation of an additional $345 million for Ontario hospitals, or a one per cent increase in their base budgets.

However, over the longer term financial pressures will remain across the entire health care system to meet the demands of a growing Ontario and Waterloo Region population base.

Last week, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released their report Transformation through Value and Innovation: Revitalizing Health Care in Ontario.

The document was presented to start the debate on how the

private sector can be a productive partner with government as it reforms the health care system.

Health care is a growing sector of the global economy, with significant expansion in both demand for services and innovation. Ontario, with world class talent and outstanding research facilities, is capable of optimizing these opportunities.

For these reasons, our health care system should be able to deliver positive health and fiscal outcomes.

Furthermore, the OCC report does not advocate for either a transition away from a single payer healthcare system or an American model, rather it looks at nations like Australia and the United Kingdom, which have universal coverage but also options for consumers.

 The Ontario Health Coalition and other organizations didn’t waste any time criticizing the report, claiming the recommendations support for-profit healthcare.

That assessment is not accurate.

Partnerships do work in health care, and an example here in Waterloo Region is indicative of the approach advocated by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Last December, Grand River Hospital activated its halogenated drug recovery system developed by Class 1 Inc. of Cambridge.

This locally developed technology captures waste anesthetic gases exhaled by patients undergoing surgery. The gases are liquefied and stored for future re-processing.

This system is one among several technologies that Grand River Hospital is utilizing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Automating the building heating systems has reduced energy costs and allows the institution to redirect funds to patient care service.

Class 1 Inc. developed the technology in collaboration with the University of Waterloo chemical engineering department and has installations planned in more than a dozen hospitals across North America.

Waterloo Region has significant resources for innovation and addressing national, provincial and local health care challenges.

All stakeholders, including the private sector, need to be part of these solutions.