Health care in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded health care system, which is mostly free at the point of use and has most services provided by private entities. The government assures the quality of care through federal standards. Health care spending in Canada has increased each year and stands at approximately 11% of GDP. As the population continues to grow and also age, there is a greater need to better understand their health care requirements to achieve better outcomes for the money spent and controlling the overall cost of delivery. A progressive, responsible and patient-focused healthcare system requires transformational change and disciplined budget management for long-term sustainability. Effective deployment of Information Technology (IT) services, catalyzes such transformation.
Canadian Healthcare System – an overview
The Canadian health care system was built around the principle that all citizens will receive all “medically necessary and hospital physician services.” To that end, each of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories finance and run a statewide health insurance program. There is no cost sharing for the health care services guaranteed under federal law. The principles revolve around providing universally accessible, portable and comprehensive health care based on patients’ needs and not their ability to pay.
Canada’s national health insurance program, Medicare, started in the 1960’s, is a government-funded universal health insurance program. It is designed to ensure that all residents have access to hospital and physician services on a prepaid basis. Close to 70% of health care is publicly funded. Physicians are paid by the public sector on a fee-for-service basis. Hospitals are not-for-profit entities with independent boards of directors but are dependent on public funding for the majority of their working capital. The Canada Health Act provides administering principles at federal level, while the individual provinces are responsible for delivering care within their jurisdictions.
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