How Healthcare Systems in Canada Work

Published by Beth Campbell Duke on

healthcare systems in canada

Or don’t.

Healthcare Systems in Canada Are Siloed

We think of healthcare in Canada as one system. But it isn’t. Healthcare is organized at the provincial level in Canada, but even provincially there isn’t one system.

  • Not one system provincially.
  • Not one system locally.
  • Not even one system within one hospital.

At all levels of healthcare there are many separate systems disguised as one system. Sometimes they communicate among themselves. Too often, though, they don’t.

This is one of the first things we realized when Tony’s health began to decline. Once he started seeing more specialists, it became more clear that information wasn’t always available to all physicians and healthcare professionals.

Healthcare systems are often called ‘silos’. They aren’t connected effectively and our health information frequently doesn’t flow easily between the silos.

Excellent work can happen within a silo, but when your health issues overlap specializations, your physicians are often not operating with all of the relevant information.

Patients & Care Partners Are The Only Ones Navigating The Gaps

Knowing that our healthcare systems are siloed – sometimes even within a hospital – is important because it affects us. We are the only ones carrying our healthcare stories and information through the gaps in the silos.

Errors are made when there are delays in care or incomplete information. As patients, we don’t have access to all of our own records, and when we’re sick it’s not the time for us to have to request and sort out medical records.

But (you knew this was coming), we can keep track of what was discussed at appointments and have a way to file information we receive so that it’s easy to access and lets us share it when needed with physicians or healthcare workers who don’t have records at hand.

Carrying reliable information is just one of the aspects of the New Work that falls to patients and care partners in our healthcare systems.

We Need Our Own Systems As Patients and Care Partners

Patients and care partners have new work in the healthcare systems. It’s not especially fair, but it’s a fact. Having our own systems and processes for navigating healthcare can help take some of the chaos out of our experiences.

The first system for patients and care partners to think about setting up is a patient binder. The information you carry in a patient binder can help you decide what other things you might want to address in your own situation.

The time to get a patient binder organized and to start using it is NOW because:

  • The information you carry with you will evolve,
  • It’s handy to have your information with you at all appointments, and
  • If/when the time comes that you need to use the information in your binder in an emergency, it needs to be there.

We use Tony’s patient binder at appointments and the information comes in handy frequently. We have used it in critical situations twice. When you need it, it needs to be there.

Creating a patient binder is the first order of business in the ‘Learning the Ropes’ online course. You can register for free.

Beth Campbell Duke

Beth is a science educator and family caregiver for her husband, Tony, and her parents. She's busy developing programs and materials to help other patients and family caregivers navigate the healthcare system and tell their stories. Beth's biggest wish is to see the healthcare system incorporate 'trauma-informed care' into its workplaces to address the growing number of healthcare providers, patients and family caregivers experiencing primary and secondary trauma.