The Future of Healthcare

By: Matthew Monardo, Benjamin Scodellaro & Kyle Alcorn

What is Preventative Healthcare?

Preventative healthcare is exactly what most people would expect; if you take care of your body now, you will increase the likelihood of preventing health problems in the future. “Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and receiving preventive services such as cancer screenings, preventive visits and vaccinations are just a few examples of ways people can stay healthy” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). For example, someone who eats healthy and exercises for the majority of their life will face less health problems as they get older.

Preventative Healthcare and Technology

With technology improving every day, it’s only a matter of time before we see more improvements in the ways that we are able to detect and prevent future health problems. Eric Dishman, who is the director of Health Innovation in the Intel Architecture Group, hopes to see a device that is implanted into a patient that shows all the vital information about them. This could be blood pressure, sugar levels, protein levels, rate of heartbeat, body temperature, etc. “I think in 10 years there will be more than a billion people on the planet with implantable medical devices. Not just the pacemakers that we see today, but a device that’s in your body, that’s collecting information about what your proteins are doing real time and e-mailing that securely out to you and your doctors” (Dishman).

One example of this preventative healthcare device that we see in our current healthcare industry is the insulin pump, which is used by people with diabetes. Insulin pumps measure the amount of glucose in the blood, and display it on a small device so the user knows if they need more insulin in their system.

Without this device being accessible to everyone, people who have diabetes would need to visit a doctor or hospital regularly to have their blood levels checked. This would cause a major problem in the healthcare system, as it would be very expensive to keep doing these tests, and it would cause backlog in the current healthcare facilities.

With the advancements we see in technology, it is only a matter of time before everyone is able to know everything about their bodies, inside and out. With everything our society knows, why do we still need to visit a doctor to know what’s going on inside our bodies?

With the USA passing a healthcare reform, they will be able to change the way they charge people for medical goods and services. With this change, companies will be able to start making innovating new ideas to really improve the healthcare industry. “The fundamental reason we haven’t done real innovation in health care is because we never change the way we pay for healthcare. We are finally starting to change that payment model, and it’s going to incentivize preventive care as opposed to reactive care. Once that happens, the universities, the small companies, and the large companies will aim their innovation engines at preventative care, and suddenly all the miraculous things that we’ve created in hospitals for reactive care will now aim at preventative care because there’s economic incentive to do it” (Dishman).

Social Media in Healthcare

With everything online in today’s society, developers are starting to make apps that are designed to keep track of a person’s food intake and exercise habits. Online marketplaces, such as Apple’s App Store, and Google Play have started dedicated areas towards health and fitness apps. These new apps are a good way to limit your consumption of sodium and cholesterol which can prevent future heart problems.

With so many people visiting these marketplaces every day, and the increase in popularity of healthy eating and fitness it’s only a matter of time before we see apps that connect people to their doctors directly. In fact, there are a few hospitals and medical centers in the States that have begun testing this feature. “The software is still being tested and studied for its effectiveness. But mental health experts and researchers say it shows great promise - not just for spotting worsening conditions, but also for picking up on behavior changes that suggest someone has stopped taking medication or needs a dosage change” (Richtel, 2012).

With the constant innovation that we continue to see in the healthcare field, it’s only a matter of time before we see an increase in health care on a global level.

What Canada Can Learn From Other Countries

Canada can learn a lot from other countries health care systems. Even though Canada is a lot better than most countries health care systems and some can argue we even have close to the best in the world, there are still other countries who's health care system is just as good as ours.

First, there is Taiwan who has the "smart card" which is similar to the health card we use in Canada. This smart card is given to residence of Taiwan from the National Health Insurance company, which 96% of Taiwan's population is part of (Smart Card Alliance, 2003). The government of Taiwan pays for all of the citizen’s coverage (Edmonds, 2009). This smart card they use has all of their medial history on it and when you show it to any doctor they can check any medical records that's happened to you since you were born which is something innovative that Canada can do to their health card and since Taiwan has a very large population and are able to do this for all of their citizens, this means its possible for Canada to do this as well.

Next is Australia, they have an amazing overall health record with the 11th highest life expectancy in the world (Working in Australia, 2014). The Australian government provides something called Medicare. Medicare provides universal access to free public hospital care and assistance with doctor’s fees. It also ensures that all Australians have access to a free or low cost hospital care while being free to choose a private health care. Medicare will give you access to free or subsidized treatment by practitioners like dentists or doctors. Medicare also gives you some benefits like, consultation fees for doctors and specialists, tests and examinations by doctors to treat an illness, eye tests performed by optometrists, and more (Working in Australia, 2014). Canada can benefit from Australia because they can get something similar to Medicare where you will get benefits from eye tests or seeing specialists and getting examinations done.

Now in Germany they historically have the have the first universal health care system making them the most experienced in that field which can help Canada out. Even though Germany's health care system is very expensive it is the highest quality of health care, but they are working on making the costs cheaper (Obermann, 2014). This can help Canada because if Canada ever wanted to start charging for health care they should follow and copy kind of what Germany did so that it will still be expensive but you are getting the best quality care.

system is very expensive it is the highest quality of health care, but they are working on making the costs cheaper (Obermann, 2014). This can help Canada because if Canada ever wanted to start charging for health care they should follow and copy kind of what Germany did so that it will still be expensive but you are getting the best quality care.

The Netherlands are said to have the best health care in Europe (Jacobsen, 2013). The healthcare there is covered by two types on insurance. Canada can learn a lot from the Dutch one thing being that if Canada ever did start charging for health care that students are exempt from paying unless they have a job. Also that the insurers can decide how the health care is delivered, based on the quality and cost of it (Jain, 2013). So this means that the Dutch will actually get taken care of faster most of the time instead of waiting as long as Canadians do who can be waiting for hours and hours without any help unless you get into the emergency room.

The United Kingdom has a fantastic health care system which Canada can learn from as well. Their coverage is universal, and everybody from the UK gets free health care (Boyle, 2008), same as what Canada does for their country. But in the UK 88% of prescriptions given out are free of charge (Boyle, 2008). They can also pay right out of their pocket if they needed to, and they have a mix of for-profit and not-for-profit insurers as in Canada it is all not-for-profit (Boyle, 2008).

The last country I think Canada's health care system can learn from is Sweden. In June of 2013 Sweden's population was 9.449 million people and GDP was $1.379 trillion. In Canada there population was 34.48 million people and GDP was at $1.736 trillion (Jain, 2013). Everybody in Sweden has equal health care services. Life expectancy is higher in Sweden compared to Canada, Sweden's is 81.28 and for Canada it is 81.57 as of 2013 (World Fact Book, 2013), although it may not be a big difference it is due to the health care system. The healthcare model in Sweden is actually used as a model for other countries (Cigna Global, 2013). Canada can learn to put the responsibility of the health and medical care on the central government, county councils and municipalities which Sweden does.

Baby Boomers: Effects on Healthcare

Baby boomers are individuals who were born between the years 1946 and 1964. During these 19 years there were an excessive number of births that had rarely been seen before (Atchison, n.d.). Today baby boomers occupy around 28% of the total population. A two-fold problem will be created in the healthcare industry through the baby boomers retiring and also in need of more healthcare benefits (Gigante, 2010).

Initially, the nursing profession was strictly dominated by women. They gained equality over the last several decades and decided to pursue careers in many other areas, now owning some of the largest corporations in America. Women are now treated equally as individuals and are making great salaries, and receiving great promotional job offers (Gigante, 2010). Healthcare companies have tried many different things to try and attract individuals to the healthcare industry. Some of their efforts include raising salaries and offering outrageous bonuses. However, money doesn’t seem to be the issue for people in the healthcare profession (Gigante, 2010). Nurses are forced to overwork themselves, taking care of more patients than they anticipated. Nurses are expected to perform more administrative tasks such as trying to get the patients care certified to meet requirements set by insurance companies (Gigante, 2010). Most nurses are not satisfied with having to do this as part of their job, as they did not become a nurse to sit behind a desk and talk on the phone for multiple hours every day.

The majority of nurses who have a job in healthcare are baby boomers themselves. There have been predictions regarding a huge nursing shortage in the healthcare industry which will only continue to get worse if something is not done soon (Gigante, 2010). As many of these individuals begin to retire, there will be a strain on the healthcare industry as a whole. This will affect the healthcare industry as there will not be as many people working in healthcare once these people start retiring, but at the same time they will want benefits that they are entitled to, such as long-term care services (Atchison, n.d.).

Due to advances in technology, individuals who may have died from serious medical conditions years ago would now be able to live much longer. Although, individuals who experience these conditions usually require a position in a long-term care facility or long-term care for a lengthy period of time (Gigante, 2010). On the flip side, there has been some success towards attracting individuals to the healthcare profession. A variety of young individuals have shown interest in healthcare due to nursing schools and healthcare organizations. However, most of the young people are aiming to get a high level of education and in turn will expect jobs such as Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners. This does leave the lower level jobs which offer less pay extremely understaffed, such as Certified Nursing Assistants and Certified Medical Assistants. The jobs on the lower end of the spectrum are the most common jobs that assist individuals through direct care (Gigante, 2010).

The number of seniors today in Canada is at the highest rate ever, being roughly 5 million. The first group of baby boomers hit the age of 65 in the year 2011. Today, the working-age population accounts for 42% of the total population of Canada. Individuals ages 15-64 have only grown by 5.7%. The fastest-growing age groups in Canada are individuals aged 60-64 and individuals over 100. There are 5825 Canadians who are over the age of 100 (Kennedy, 2012). The population of children under the age of 14 has only increased by half of one percent. The population of children under the age of 4 has increased by 11% in the years 2006-2011 (Kennedy, 2012). The figures displayed show a huge problem for Canada, as Canadians ages 15-64 account for 42% of the total population and many more individuals will continue to retire as the years go on. There will be a greater population of the elderly while there may not be enough people in the workforce to actually help them in activities they may need assistance in.

Canadian demographic experts and researchers state “Canada must now confront what lies ahead, although there is a lively debate over whether the aging population will, as some predict, lead to skyrocketing social program costs” (Inglis, 2012). Over the next 25 years, over 10 million baby boomers will indirectly challenge the medical system from being in need of medical attention such as x-rays and dental work. However, this does create new jobs for individuals in health care as the baby boomers continue to retire. It definitely secures individuals already in the health care industry a decent job and gives the opportunity for students, such as ourselves, to enter into a whole new field of work and potentially obtaining a job (Moffatt, n.d.). Three careers that will be in high demand in the health care industry are Dental Assistants, Pharmacy Assistants and Nurses. All of these professions require a college degree and in return the employee would receive around $15 an hour (Moffatt, n.d.).


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