A CMA with Patients

True Partnership and Social Accountability

Our interests are shared ones. A CMA strategic objective is to “bring a patient-centred perspective to the work of the CMA”. Shared responsibility, accountability and collaboration in co-designing healthcare system improvements will be key in creating innovative ways to bring about the changes we need. It’s time for patients to have a seat at the table. As doctors, we are exposed daily to the inequities faced by our most marginalized and vulnerable populations on a daily basis. As CMA President, I would commit to lead the CMA in partnership with patients to improve access to care by advocating for universal Pharmacare and upstream policy changes that address the social determinants of health.

Partnership with Patients:

It is critical to support the CMA Board’s courageous strategic direction in CMA 2020 to empower physicians to care for patients – a true reflection of the Organization’s mission. Co-creating a better health care system with patients has been shown to improve clinical outcomes. I  am in favour of the CMA’s plan for a Health Summit in 2018 to bring the dialogue to a multi-stakeholder audience.

To achieve this goal I would again follow the essential principles of collaboration, consultation and inclusion to work with patients and communities by taking actions such as:

    • Creating a framework for patient engagement that would include:
      • A standardized CMA definition for patient engagement and patient experience that is shared across all disciplines
      • Establishment of a dedicated role within the CMA focusing on patient and public engagement
      • Creation of a Patient and Family Advisory Council similar to the ones that are in many hospitals, in other professional associations, and even in health ministries across the country
    • Developing tools and resources for physicians to support engagement and advocacy at every level—for the individual patient, for the local community or region, for system change at the provincial and national level
    • Providing physicians with access to training and skills development for effective engagement and communication
    • Supporting the establishment of a national, federally funded, non-aligned patient organization that can represent the interests of all segments of the population in policy as well as care delivery, so that the CMA can have a viable partner to advance key mutual interests.

Social Accountability of the Medical Profession

    • The social determinants of health are critical to determining the quantity and quality of our lives. I believe that physicians, with our knowledge, expertise and privilege, can lead the way in addressing the upstream system issues that impact our patients’ health.
    • The Canada Health Act as well as the principle of universal access on which it is based must be defended. The mission of the CMA is to help physicians care for patients, and this cannot be accomplished in the face of financial barriers to access.
    • Pharmacare: Canadians’ treasured system of universal access to healthcare is anything but universal. It is time to build upon all the efforts and evidence supporting a National Pharmacare program in Canada. Patients must have to access to the medications they need. The CMA can be at the forefront of advocating for the establishment of a National Pharmacare program during the next federal election campaign in 2019.
    • The CMA needs to continue to collaborate with other professional healthcare organization partners and with community-based healthcare associations to advocate for greater funding and resources to improve access to care for rural and remote populations, uninsured people, inner city vulnerable and marginalized people and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people across Canada. We need to continue the CMA’s efforts on Effective Poverty Reduction Strategies to impact morbidity and mortality in a significant way.
    • Another key area for ongoing advocacy is improved access to mental health and addiction services. Mental health and addiction affect 20% of Canadians and access to care is often excessively delayed and limited, especially in more rural and small communities.
    • Although the federal government set aside funds for mitigation of the opioid crisis, we cannot rest. This crisis requires our constant vigilance and expert input for the foreseeable future.
    • We also need to continue to support the CMA’s Seniors Strategy – particularly for Parliament to include this focus in the next budget. This includes continuing to advocate for increasing long-term care capacity, more respite services and greater support for caregivers to care for the elderly and access to palliative care services, including home based care and community residential hospice care for those at the end of life.
    • As a physician practicing home based palliative and end of life care I personally experience the challenge of looking after many complex patients in the community. Unfortunately what I am able to offer with my team is lacking in many parts of the province and country.  Advocacy for well funded and equitable services in all jurisdictions in necessary to ensure that people living in Canada can receive treatment in the environment of their choice. It is one of the most cost-effective solutions to caring for our growing and aging citizens.
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