Canadian Nurses Association Forecasts Strong Health System - Access Issues to Disappear

    OTTAWA, Jan. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - By 2020, problems with access to health
services will be eradicated and registered nurses will be central to Canada's
primary care system, predicts the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) in Vision
for Change a vision statement for Canada's health system and a signature
component of their 100th anniversary, released today.
    "The current health system is not sustainable for 2020," said Dr. Marlene
Smadu, president of CNA. "In the coming years, the world will be confronted
with more active, virulent illnesses and diseases of the aging such as
arthritis and diabetes. Through new technology, major advances in genetic
research and significant changes to the roles and the diversity of health
professionals, we envision a Canadian health system that will address these
challenges in a timely and effective way."
    CNA marks 2008 as its 100th anniversary with a dramatic but optimistic
vision of the Canadian health system. Projected growth in the demand for
health services will be offset by advances in technology, including robotics
and diagnostic tools, as well as the heightened emphasis on health promotion
and disease prevention. These developments will improve the current system of
costly and fragmented health-care delivery.
    "The advancement in information technology over the last 20 years has
dramatically changed the expectation of Canadian patients," said Dr. Smadu.
"In Canada today, patients are far better informed about their health and
well-being than previous generations, and when they become ill, the trend is
to advocate for themselves, or through family members. By 2020, patients will
be directly involved in many more decisions regarding their care, quality of
life and health promotion at every age and stage of their lives."
    CNA predicts that patients will directly access primary care services
from a variety of providers, including nurses who will deliver the bulk of
primary care services. Patients with complex and rare conditions will be
referred to physicians, including family medicine and other specialists.
    "Health care will no longer mean hospitals, surgeons and high-tech
diagnostic tests first and foremost," said Dr. Smadu. "That type of health
care will be the exception rather than the norm. Health promotion, disease
prevention and managing chronic disease in the community will be the norm. A
greater proportion of illness care, and much more complex care - including
acute, long-term and palliative care - will be provided in homes, hospices and
other community settings."
    Speaking to CNA's vision statement, Dr. Ginette Lemire Rodger,
vice-president of professional practice and chief nursing executive at the
Ottawa Hospital, predicted that "hospitals will be settings for short-stay and
outpatient services, as well as critical and emergency care. There will be a
significant increase in long-term and transitional living beds in the health
system, along with alternative living options for seniors and more effective
support to keep people living and healing in their homes, not institutions."
    "The health of Canada's Inuit and First Nations peoples in rural, remote
and isolated communities is reliant in large part on the outstanding
contributions of registered nurses who increasingly employ telehealth options,
such as audio and video technology, to successfully diagnose and treat
patients," said Ms. Susan Aglukark, a member of CNA's Centennial Leadership
Cabinet. "Nurses in the North are leading innovators in the health system,
working with limited access to hospitals and doctors, and often provide care
that requires advanced knowledge, skills and clinical judgment," she said.
    A significant trend improving access to specialized health-care services
is telehealth, which CNA envisions will become instrumental in all health
settings. Improved technology will enable greater telehealth care, reducing
the need to travel for surgical and other invasive procedures, thereby better
serving those unable to leave their homes for treatment. The delivery of
telehealth services costs the health system half of that of a face-to-face
visit with a nurse.
    "One of the most important trends we forecast is the integration of
Canada's individual provincial and territorial health systems," said
Dr. Smadu. "This integration will support improved efficiency and
effectiveness of the system. Integration will mean Canadians can readily
access health services both where they live and where they travel, whether
it's across the country or around the world."
    Robotic technology will be used to support routine, mainstream and
administrative tasks as well as assist in lifting and moving patients. Robots
will provide non-clinical care, allowing nurses, physicians and other health
workers to focus on delivering the right level of care, in the right place, at
the right time.
    "The dramatic changes we envision in the future will mean that the role
of the nurse and other partners in the health system needs to become more
collaborative, team-based and streamlined," said Dr. Smadu.
    "This centennial year marks CNA's commitment as a national organization
to enable the important changes needed within the nursing profession and the
health system. To do this, CNA will work with all levels of government, its
many health partners and with Canadians who count on the health system to be
there for them."

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview: Tina Grznar,
Canadian Nurses Association, Cell: (613) 240-7830,

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