Great Challenges in HealthCare

Canadians and Americans have very different outlooks on healthcare, and how it affects their daily lives. Canadians have access to essential medical care that is paid for by the government. Americans are not able to get the basic health care they need unless they have health insurance to cover the expense, or can pay for it themselves. The structure of each healthcare system is vastly different, but many of the challenges they are facing are surprisingly similar. At April’s 2012 TEDMED conference played host to The Great Challenges Program. The rich and diverse community residing at TEDMED creates the ideal atmosphere to address complex and persistent health issues working towards a sustainable solution.

With issues ranging from childhood obesity to end-of-life care, we have summarized the top five issues we find most pressing within Canada’s healthcare system:

The obesity crisis:

Key drivers of the obesity crisis are food choices and levels of activity. Other factors that play a role include family dynamics, cultural roots, stress, lifestyle and more. If we are unable to help ourselves live healthier lifestyles, how can we improve the healthcare system to cope with the results?

Faster adoption of best practices:

Small, incremental steps within surgeries are the origin of many medical process improvements. Many of these process enhancements are not replicated across the system due to a lack of communication. Alternatively, if they are shared, they are rarely adopted among the different practitioners. How can we capture and implement best practices across the system to benefit patients and providers?

Coming to grips with end-of-life care:

Improved technology has extended life expectancies for many terminally ill patients. A longer life tends to require extensive care, which translates to increased costs. Making an end-of-life decision comes with its own emotional turmoil on both patients and their families. How can we manage end-of-life care that minimizes social costs, yet will maximize individual well-being?

Achieving Medical Innovation, More affordably:

Medical research and products are very expensive, and costly to the consumers when first released to the market. The market will eventually bring the prices down, but patients demand new products immediately. How can we offer the latest and greatest in medical products faster, without the additional cost?

Coping with stress:

Stress varies from person to person and is hard to quantify. The prevalence of stress at unhealthy levels among people is widespread, and contributes to mental and physical health problems. How can we understand the role stress plays in our overall health? Will we be able to reduce it, thereby improving wellness among ourselves?

Our population has been struggling with these issues for a while. The increasing costs of health care indicate that these issues are not improving, but our overall health as a population is declining. There are many opportunities to work together to improve our choices in life when it comes to our health.

To read more about The Great Challenges Program and TEDMED, click here.