Part 4/5 – Privatization of Health Care – Why Should We Care?
Posted by Amy MacPherson
Wasaga Beach: Privatization of health care – Part 4
April 27, 2011 12:09 PM
Region: Ontario Topics:
Why should we care?
By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)
Kellie Leitch, Conservative candidate in the riding of Simcoe-Grey, hosted an annual conference last November through the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Health Innovation and Leadership. The following are snippets from that event, identifying issues within our health care system that she plans to remedy.
Neil Fraser is the chair of the health innovation centre’s advisory council and reports on the strategic direction of the centre. He states, “We need leaders who understand how to go about overturning a sometimes intractable culture and many silos with a bias against change in the health care system.” And: “I applaud Kellie for taking on such an ambitious agenda.” He also addresses commercialization of our health care devices and the reason for lending his company’s support to Leitch’s vision.
As proof of their success, a student is awarded a scholarship for her efforts in the private health industry. She was trained in medicine and thanks the health innovation centre for translating those skills into a job with pharmaceutical company Pfizer, where she marketed the smoking cessation drug Champix, as opposed to actually practising medicine.
On Day 2 of the same conference, Leitch begins by addressing government and patient resistance to change. She insists we need a more consumer-marketed health system and reassures the audience this is what people want.
Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, also attended. He speaks to the Conservative government’s role in this type of innovation: “These are the foundations, frankly the building blocks of the economies of tomorrow.” He lauds Prime Minister Stephen Harper for increasing budgets by $8 billion and takes credit for $5 million directly allocated to establish the UWO’s health innovation centre.
Goodyear asks private sector companies to step up their own engagement, saying they hope to make the health care sector “a source of long-term prosperity for Canadians” and to further extend their reach to universities. Reportedly, funding came straight from the Economic Action Plan and included $20 million in Southern Ontario to create a government-university network for clinical trials. According to Goodyear, this ties in to attempts to develop an artificial pancreas as a means of economic stimulus.
The vice-president of TD Bank, Derek Burleton, contributed his views at the conference. He addresses Ontario specifically and the inability to sustain health care funding. He urges the system to allow private enterprise, to alleviate the burden on taxpayers who will have to confront an aging population. Burleton would also like to see changes to the way we remunerate doctors, including replacing the fee-for-service model. He would prefer to remove funds from Ontario drug coverage and reallocate the dollars to health IT pursuits. On a side note and as an economist, he doesn’t understand why tax cuts haven’t translated into productivity yet. Here it is, in his own words.
Ontario’s deputy health minister, Saad Rafi, was another guest speaker at the event. He lays out possible reductions in public health spending, with cutbacks to blood tests, ECGs and other “unnecessary costs.”
The keynote address was provided by Jason Hwang, who focused on the theory of ”disruptive innovation,” whereby improvements are made in response to difficult situations. He compares health care to private service providers whose goal it is to “pack in as many features possible” to attract the highest paying customers. He also projects that lower-class consumers would be willing to accept trade-offs in exchange for lower prices.
He goes on to describe the decentralization of health care, which may open the doors to patients being treated at kiosks. The Centre for Health Innovation and Leadership promotes the idea that putting technology in the hands of patients will reduce costs and allow them to provide their own care.
Hwang, a doctor, proposes deregulation of drugs like Lipitor and believes many pharmaceuticals can be safely sold over the counter. He argues these methods aren’t to put doctors and hospitals out of business, but to free up their time for more sophisticated measures. In fact, he compliments the legal profession in how it put more procedures directly in clients’ hands, “so they are free to do more high-value activities.”
Paul Lepage, senior VP of Telus Health and Financial Solutions, is a significant partner of Leitch. Telus sponsored a report that Leitch co-authored on how British Columbia can direct e-health dollars. Telus has created a special branch of the company to manage personal health records and medical app services for clients, hoping to monopolize on the emergence of new technology. Lepage attended the conference and elaborated on the lucrative nature of this venture.
All video clips from the November 2010 ICHIL conference can be seen here.