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Innovate now to reform system: Naylor

Delegates to the CMA General Council (GC) meeting had a first-hand opportunity to hear what innovations a high-profile federal panel feels are urgently required to improve the Canadian health care system.

Dr. David Naylor, who headed the panel which released recommendations in July on how to bring innovation to the system, gave the keynote address on the first day of GC.

The 126-page report of the Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation was released without fanfare by the federal government but its recommendations have subsequently received considerable media attention.

The report’s key recommendation is to create a new Healthcare Innovation Agency of Canada that would administer a national health innovation fund to enhance the quality and value of health care over the next decade.

“Clinical innovation is critical to the future of health care,” Naylor told the session.

He repeated this emphasis in his address, also speaking about the urgent need for a renewed commitment by politicians at all levels to improve the health care system.

“The panel is firmly convinced that concerted action on its recommendations can make a meaningful difference that will be seen and felt across Canada by 2025.”

Naylor said stakeholders across the country told the panel they’re frustrated by the status of the health care system and the fact Canada is losing ground relative to other western countries.

He said the lack of integration between health care providers and various jurisdictions must be addressed, and collaboration embraced by both providers and policy-makers.

He also noted that national leadership is essential to make constructive changes, and that the federal government “cannot simply throw money over the wall and walk away.”

Asked if any level of government has been prepared to look at the health care system as an economic driver, Naylor said “I think we’re behind other nations.”

On the lack of fanfare surrounding the release of the report, Naylor declined to comment — except to note that the panel was totally independent. He expressed his satisfaction that the report has subsequently been well circulated.