Canadians want better healthcare, but their participation in health reform is difficult. Ordinary citizens don’t readily have useful information about waiting times, results of care, the rate of preventable mistakes in their local facilities or even their own health information.
The way forward and the most immediate, actionable way would be to promote improvements in health literacy, granting patient access to their own information, and granting public access to information about health system performance. When patients and their doctor receive laboratory test results, the patient becomes a second set of eyes making sure that abnormal results are not ignored.
Patient participation in their own care can reduce the clinician time required to care for a problem, reducing the number of necessary face-to-face visits leaving doctors more time for patients who need more guidance. It’s time to implement these solutions in Atlantic Canada.