As demand for services grows, Canadian health care providers are under pressure to reassess traditional practices. The acute shortage of hospital beds and the long wait times for care are obvious indicators that change is necessary. An article in the Globe and Mail noted that Canada ranks near the bottom of developed countries with regard to number of available beds. CBC News reported research that found that 27 per cent of Canadians are waiting more than four hours for emergency room treatment.
This stretching of the country’s hospital resources comes at a time when the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates three out of every five Canadians suffer from chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, mental illness and cardiovascular conditions.
The combination of a population that is both growing and aging is forcing a change in the way medical services are delivered. Consider, for example:
- At-home treatment and services are an increasingly popular option, as patients prefer to recover from hospital stays, rehabilitate from injuries, treat chronic conditions and maintain wellness from the comfort of their homes.
- As many as one in four Ontario residents visit a walk-in clinic each year.
- With citizens living longer, more suffer from chronic conditions requiring full-time care. A report from the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association noted serious capacity issues in long-term care facilities.
The shifting nature of Canada’s health care system has naturally affected all aspects of the health care supply chain.