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10 Key Trends in Canada’s Health Sector


Whether you pick up a newspaper, watch the news or check out what’s trending on Twitter across Canada, you’re bound to find something related to Canada’s or a specific province or territory’s health system. Often it is a story about a government or health region’s new program that is going to streamline service or a new technology that is going to “save” the system. What you don’t see as often is an article on what is driving the need for all this change.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Emily Greene Balch once said, “The future will be determined in part by happenings that it is impossible to foresee; it will also be influenced by trends that are now existent and observable.” Taking heed of trends and learning how to adapt health services to them will be paramount to any jurisdiction’s success in delivering the health services individuals require in the most appropriate, safe manner with the highest quality.

Below are 10 health sector trends (in no particular order) that are worth keeping an eye on.

Key Trends
1. Prevalence of inter-professional service delivery models — Gone are the days when services were provided by health care providers in isolation of one another. Collaborative and integrated professional and para-professional care models are the new norm.

2. Increased information-sharing amongst providers — With the movement toward inter-professional care comes a need for increased information-sharing across these providers.

3. Accountability — See my previous blogs (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) for more on how the need for increased transparency and demonstration of value and accountability in the system is influencing health care.

4. Increasing service demand — Substantial increases in service demand resulting from the prevalence of chronic diseases and aging populations will increasingly impact health service delivery.

5. Cost containment — Mounting pressure on governments and providers to contain costs and increase alternative sources of revenue while maintaining access to services is expected to continue to influence health services delivery. Realities such as aging populations, continued advances in expensive diagnostic tools and skyrocketing drug costs, to name a few, will challenge health policy makers and service providers.

6. Funding model changes
— Many jurisdictions across Canada are experimenting with changes to funding models to drive integration and better alignment with population needs and service use, impacting the way facilities and programs are funded.

7. Consumerism and person-centred care
— Consumerism is pushing the need for care to be increasingly personal and innovative, allowing for consumer choice.

8. Transitions in care
— The movement of patients through care settings and the need to ensure patients are receiving care in the most appropriate settings is influencing everything from facility design and location to health care provider education.

9. Aging populations — Aging populations will lead to increases in the number of people suffering from chronic, expensive-to-treat diseases and disabilities, straining health care systems.

10. Evidence-based medicine
— Data on outcomes will increasingly be used to develop standard protocols for treating many diseases.

These are, of course, just some of the many factors that will influence health services in Canada in the coming years. Health care leaders, policy makers, providers, administrators and caregivers will have no shortage of challenges and opportunities to adapt to in order to meet the ongoing health care needs of Canadians.