Donna Kennedy-Glans, candidate for Calgary-Varsity, wrote a blog about how healthcare is a shared priority for the people in Calgary-Varsity. Since healthcare is a priority for all Albertans, we thought we would share it here. To learn more about Donna, you can visit her website at www.donnapc.ca.
Healthcare is a shared priority for people in Calgary-Varsity
At the doorsteps, it’s clear: Healthcare is a shared priority for people in Calgary-Varsity.And, many people in this constituency are front-line healthcare professionals, administrators and researchers who play direct roles in the design and delivery of healthcare.
Yes, there are many legitimate concerns about healthcare, and no one wants to sweep these challenges under the carpet. And, there is great upside too. Let’s reframe the scarcity mentality to ask, instead: How can we support the most effective healthcare system in Alberta? Our healthcare system has the potential to be another jewel in Alberta’s crown. Right now, we have the unprecedented opportunity in Alberta to strengthen and sustain a quality healthcare system for all Albertans, one that has the potential to attract people to Alberta and to become an economic engine in Alberta's knowledge- based economy.
To realize this potential, we need to reframe the healthcare discussion; it’s time to have an adult discussion on healthcare. I want to resist the temptation to use polarizing and fear-inducing language in the discussion about healthcare in Alberta (two tier, private/public), pitting Albertans against one another in their perceived access to a ‘scarce’ resource.
What do Albertans want? We all want quality healthcare. In healthcare, quality includes several aspects: accessibility, acceptability, effectiveness, efficiency, safety and appropriateness. Looking at any of these aspects in isolation, without considering the others, leaves the discussion incomplete.
Expanding the discussion
Front line healthcare providers (e.g. doctors, nurses, technicians) are responsible for exercising judgment to ensure quality healthcare is delivered within a wider system. In a simple example, a cancer doctor may see a patient—a 17 year old with bone cancer in her knee. That doctor’s professional responsibility is to that individual patient, and the doctor will make choices (e.g. about MRI, testing, surgery, treatment) about that young cancer patient within a wider system. In some cases, that may mean the doctor chooses to advocate for this patient to be treated in priority to other patients with less life threatening surgeries. Our healthcare system must afford this adaptiveness to assure quality (in this case, responding to what is appropriate). Our focus must not just be on top-down policy in healthcare; we need to refocus on front-line, bottom-up.
As a society, we determine what essential healthcare services look like, and the Alberta government is responsible for creating the conditions for quality healthcare to be provided. This can entail public and innovative approaches to delivery, for example, the radiological model in Alberta. And, a quality healthcare system in Alberta means that government must work with all partners…this takes collaboration and trust. Delivering quality healthcare is also dependent on a partnership with each and every Albertan. We have a strong sense of personal responsibility, and as individuals and families, we need to make personal choices that help us all to realize the full potential of our healthcare system. It is time to start making practical choices in how we use the system, asking ourselves good questions, for example: when would a 24 clinic be a more appropriate choice rather than a hospital emergency department emergency?
We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. There is no need to ravage this system, and ourselves, with divisive, polarizing arguments. We have the opportunity to build on our positive experiences and learnings, for example, the progression from Primary Care Networks to Family Care Clinics. With collaboration, we can continue the work of aligning incentives to create appropriate choices in healthcare. We need to affirm with one another the belief that every Albertan is equal. And we need to honestly and openly talk about what decision-making looks like in a healthcare system where front-line healthcare experts are trusted to make choices about resource allocation.
With trust-- and rational discussion that includes all stakeholders--we can be proud of Alberta’s quality healthcare system. We can recognize its worth as another jewel in Alberta’s crown.
Donna Kennedy-Glans; PC Candidate for Calgary-Varsity