Here in Canada, a national election is scheduled for Monday January 23, 2006. This particular election has been interesting because the major political parties seem to be running an issues-based campaign, passing on much of the negative advertisements and personal attacks of past elections. I’m not sure if this new-found civility will keep-up, but I have been interested nevertheless.
What has interested me the most, however, has been the platforms and policies regarding health care. I have been surprised that there is no mention of ehealth (or related concepts) in any of the party platforms. I have reviewed the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Green Party (sorry, my French isn’t good enough to have checked the Bloc Quebecois‘s site). Mentioned in the position papers are national cancer programs, wait-time strategies, promises towards public health funding, and a great number of other ideas. But, no mention of ehealth. Why?
My first thought is that ehealth isn’t really a “sexy” or politically appropriate health care issue. I mean, when speaking to voters, a “computer” doesn’t compare well with nurses, hospital beds, or public health. Why isn’t there one party mentioning what they would do with new technologies? Those of us in this area (both industry and research) seem to hold some notion that what we do will have a (positive) impact on the health care system. Some even believe that ehealth is the means of maintaining the health care system in the future. Are we deluding ourselves to think that anyone else cares?
I think that the political parties need to develop a strategy and position regarding ehealth. If not a full “policy”, at least be thinking about ehealth. When we consider that there are considerable pressures on limited resources, we all need to make informed decisions regarding the allocation and use of these resources. As I read some of the proposals for a national wait-list strategy, I wonder how these programs will be delivered when the current info-structure in Canada has yet to be fully developed and integrated.
I am not suggesting that money is the answer. What is needed is thought and attention to ehealth, viewing it as another foundational piece of the health care system. Getting ehealth and ehealth issues on the “radar” of the politicos is just the first step.
Note: My apologies for not writing for quite some time. Recovery has taken much longer than I had anticipated. Hopefully 2006 will be better than 2005. I plan to write more frequently this year (daily if I can).