Strengthening Health Systems through Innovation: Lessons Learned

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Every developed country in the world is challenged by the increasing demands for health services and the rising costs of health care associated with rapid advances in technology and aging populations. Canada is facing similar challenges, yet has made less progress in meeting these demands when compared to other developed countries. The question is: how can Canada learn from other countries in order to more adequately prepare for the future of growing demands on health systems? The purpose of this white paper is to examine the progress made within the health systems of seven comparator countries so we may learn how they have been able to help meet population health needs more effectively and make progress in health system redesign and transformation.

The costs of Canada’s health systems are consuming nearly half of provincial tax revenues, while the demands for services continue to grow, plagued by long wait times and limited integration of services across the continuum of care. When compared with other countries, the quality and outcomes of health services in Canada are ranked among the lowest of comparator OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. The current system costs are dominated by acute care hospital services; however, chronic illness management is not as well developed for an aging population and will require innovative new approaches that can cope with the growing population demands, now and in the future.