PRE­SCRIP­TION FOR CHANGE

Al­ready a fam­ily doc­tor, a hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor and a univer­sity prof, Dr. Danielle Mar­tin adds au­thor to her list of ac­co­lades with this view on what’s wrong with Canada’s health­care sys­tem and how we can fix it.

Canadian Living - - Books -

As Cana­di­ans, we are, with good rea­son, proud of our health-care sys­tem: A trip to the emer­gency room won’t lead to a six-fig­ure bill, plus our re­searchers are some of the best in the world. But as any­one who has had to use it for non­emer­gency pur­poses knows, it’s far from per­fect. Wait times are still a prob­lem; we spend more on health care than most other de­vel­oped na­tions do, though not for bet­ter care, and many of us don’t have a fam­ily doc­tor.

But the so­lu­tion to these prob­lems, writes Dr. Danielle Mar­tin, a Toronto-based physi­cian, isn’t to move to a U.s.-style tiered sys­tem; it’s to fix the one we’ve got.

In this in­ter­est­ing and easy-to-di­gest read, she high­lights six big prob­lems in Cana­dian health care, of­fer­ing a real per­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence as proof and a smart, if some­times rad­i­cal, so­lu­tion for each.

Take Ahmed, who is of South Asian descent and has a seden­tary job, both of which in­crease his risk for di­a­betes, high choles­terol and high blood pres­sure. But he doesn’t have in­sur­ance, so he can’t al­ways af­ford the med­i­ca­tions his doc­tor pre­scribes. Ahmed’s story il­lus­trates how a govern­ment­funded drug plan would im­prove Cana­di­ans’ health—and how not hav­ing one costs more in the long run.

Dr. Mar­tin de­votes equal rigour to is­sues such as “too much medicine” (that is, over­diag­no­sis, overtest­ing and over­pre­scrib­ing) and how to deal with high-cost and high-need pa­tients with­out bankrupt­ing the en­tire sys­tem, which re­sults in an in­for­ma­tive and thor­oughly read­able book. — SLK Bet­ter Now: Six Big Ideas to Im­prove Health Care for All Cana­di­ans (Allen Lane) by Dr. Danielle Mar­tin, $32.

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