Canadian Medical Association

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Highlights from session 1
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Highlights from Session 1 – May 18, 2021 

Canada’s Universal Health Care System – Myth or Reality?

While COVID-19 sparked rapid innovation in the health system — including the expansion of virtual care and collaboration between often siloed areas of health care — the pandemic also underscored many system failures.

During this session, host and CMA President Dr. Ann Collins highlighted the opportunity to learn from the pandemic to build a better heath care system that serves all Canadians.

Dr. Danielle Martin and fellow keynote speaker Dr. Nadine Caron emphasized the need to strengthen primary care services and address the social determinants of health.

Panelist and patient advocate Sudi Barre shared her insights on why health care isn’t universal – especially for women and racialized communities.

And panelist and Globe and Mail health columnist André Picard talked about what it would take to ensure better care for older adults.

Following the panel discussion — moderated by journalist Althia Raj — participants joined small breakout groups to discuss topics including how to better serve marginalized groups and the need to better integrate health and social services.

“How do we support patients being their own voice and not being a voice for them? Those are two very, very different things.”
— Physician participant
“If we had a well-integrated health system that cared about and partnered more closely with organisations that address the social determinants of health, we would be able to better serve racialized and vulnerable populations.”
— Participant

Other breakout sessions focused on ensuring a patient-partnered approach and communicating effectively with communities about their medical needs.

“With Indigenous populations, we need to go where they are. We need to take a leadership role to identify and address the real needs of patients and then shift the system around to make it patient-centric. That's my dream.”
— Patient participant

Finally, the topic of virtual care, both its capacity to increase access during the pandemic and its potential to disrupt in-person visits, was hotly debated in several breakout sessions, especially among physicians.

“I found patients who can’t come to the office for financial reasons are reaching out, especially the younger population, the mental health population, the elderly who are dependent on someone to drive them. I'm going to continue with virtual care for those populations.”
— Physician participant
“As a family doctor, the relationship with your patient is at the core of the work you do and has always been built in a very physical way, in a physical space. With the shift to virtual care… both physicians and patients alike have noted the challenges with communicating in a way that's virtual and just on the telephone.”
— Physician participant

All these discussions are being compiled and will be used by the CMA to help shape its future work, with a final report on the Health Summit series to be published in September.

Dr. Collins ended the session by acknowledging the value of the ideas brought forward and the opportunities to build on the positive changes to the health care system made during the pandemic, through the CMA’s Impact 2040 strategy.


Highlights from Session 2 – June 17, 2021 

Lessons learned from COVID-19: How do we close Canada’s health gap?

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored that good health is about more than simply treating someone who is sick; factors such as race, gender, income level and housing are really what define people’s health.

In this session, CMA President-Elect Dr. Katharine Smart explained that to achieve health equity in Canada, we need to redefine what makes us healthy.

“It’s about community, money, power, politics, partnerships, access, paternalism and breaking down silos.”
— Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA president-elect

Keynote speaker Dr. Jane Philpott talked about her experience during the pandemic, working at a group home for adults with severe physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and how it took days of pleading to get the appropriate medical attention after a COVID-19 outbreak in the home.

“The worst outcomes of this pandemic have been felt by those who have been least able to speak up, or at least, least likely to be heard and taken seriously,” she said. “We have watched the real-time impact of ableism, ageism, racism and other structures of oppression.”

Panellist Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician, said improving health equity in Canada will require an investment in social services like housing and mental health care, and stressed the importance of including patients in any redesign of the health care system.

Panellist and patient advocate Nicole Nickerson talked about the negative impact of COVID-19 on the health of her two grandmothers, in part because of visitation restrictions, and how caregivers need to be part of the health care conversation.

Following the panel discussion — moderated by journalist Althia Raj — Summit participants joined small breakout groups to discuss topics related to achieving health equity, including the changes needed to address the inequities exposed during the pandemic.

“In medical school, I wish we learned more about marginalized communities, how they're being affected and why their health outcomes are worse than non-marginalized populations.”
— Early-career physician participant
“I think we need to sit down together and grow together and admit we don't have all the answers. But the answers are to be found somewhere in each camp.”
— Participant

Another breakout session focused on improving health outcomes for racialized communities.

“I'm a Black woman. I grew up in the Middle East. We faced racism and discrimination. We weren’t treated and didn't receive the health care we deserved and needed because of our skin colour, because of our race.”
— International medical graduate participant

Finally, there was some debate over the services needed post-pandemic to make health care more responsive, especially virtual care.

“There's a digital divide. The homeless and a lot of my mental health patients — who are suspicious and vulnerable — are the least likely to use digital technologies.”
— Physician participant
“I see value in digitalization. Personally, I'm taking better care of my mental health patients, my elderly patients and my infant patients whose mothers cannot drive. Virtual care has given them an opportunity to connect with me and ask questions they could not have dealt with otherwise.”
— Participant

These discussions are being compiled and will be used by the CMA to help shape its future work. A final report on the CMA Health Summit series will be published in September.

At the end of the session, Dr. Smart encouraged participants to take part in a full day event dedicated to the medical profession on Aug. 22 — the final Health Summit session and the CMA’s 154th Annual General Meeting. Registration for both events is now open.


Highlights from Session 3 – August 22, 2021 

Thriving in a reimagined culture of medicine: What does it mean to be “healthy”?