MONTREAL, Jan. 15, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Following various media reports on hospital rooms billings, the president of the Québec Medical Association, Dr. Laurent Marcoux, wishes to comment the different options available for the government.
Billing for hospital rooms and the possibility of setting rates based on patient income, as reported in recent news stories, are not a solution to the problem and should not be considered by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. This type of billing compromises the principles of universal and accessible health care that are firmly held by the population and the physicians I represent.
However, I cannot deny the fact that our health care system is running out of steam and will face even more pressure over the next few years as the federal share of provincial health care spending decreases. I agree with the Minister of Health that the ministry cannot simply just forgo the $60 million currently generated by billing for rooms and I understand that it is seeking solutions. But this solution is not a step in the right direction.
What is most striking is that when different stakeholders talk about the sustainability of our health care system, the focus is frequently on the level of funding for our system.
However, at the risk of offending a few sensibilities, our system is not short of funding. The money is merely being poorly spent. Budget allocation methods are archaic, accountability measures are insufficient, and performance assessment tools are practically non-existent. It is high time to stop asking how to pump more money into our system. Instead, we should be looking into ways of increasing our efficiency and effectiveness.
The time has come to focus not on the revenues of the health care system, but rather on the expenditures and their relevance. The QMA and its members are convinced that efforts must be made to optimize clinical practices in Québec. Patients and physicians must make better choices. According to a study done by the QMA, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, gaps in care coordination, hospital-acquired infections, medication errors, preventable incidents and readmissions at every level of the system represent an estimated $5 billion that could be invested in activities that are more useful and relevant for patients.
That is the direction we should be taking. We should analyse our health care system as a whole, and rather than ask how to increase its funding, we should make better choices.
Laurent Marcoux, M.D., M.Sc.
Québec Medical Association
SOURCE: Quebec Medical Association
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