Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wait Time Issues the World Over

One of the most memorable trips I've ever made was to Singapore. It's a small Asian island with all of the modern amenities, intellect and technology of a European country. The year I graduated, my wife was invited to lecture about Paediatric Trauma so I went as well to care for our new son and give some talks at the University.

The medical facilities were ultra-modern with centralized scheduling technology. The staff were engaged and the physicians trained the world over. In fact I went to observe one craniofacial procedure and because of common training we used the exact same instrumentation -- half a world apart. In then next room an ENT surgeon had trained under the same prof as I in Canada.

Skip forward 10 years and they now have many of the same problems as we face in Canada. Smaller country with the same big growing pains of socialized medicine. With increasing costs and diminishing resources there are only a few options. Either rationalize services or increase efficiencies, because increasing revenue at the pace of medical progress can't happen if the government wants to stay in power.

I've now seen, first hand, how medicine is funded in Canada, US, Singapore and the UK. On trips abroad I also watch closely and ask friends from other countries how care is financed. I no longer think there are easy answers. Rather, we should take the same approach as to a deficit and shoot for a 10-15% improvement per year in all facets of health care. If we continue on the same course of platitudes about reform and massive changes, our system will just wither on the vine.


Anonymous said...

It's refreshing to hear someone from our system (in Canada) comment on increased efficiency and productivity as an essential to meet the current and future demand, given the constraints in funding and resources. Love the blog and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Furst, this is a great blog and I commend you on searching for a solution to the issue of wait times. I am currently working on a solution myself with web based appointments where open appointment times could be easily marketed to a doctors patient population and prevent the need for double booking.