nce touted as exemplary, Canada’s health care system has, in recent years, begun to trail behind its similarly developed peers. Results from the Commonwealth Fund’s most recent report prove what many health care leaders and policy makers have long known: Canada’s health care system scores below average on many key indicators.

The Canadian government spends approximately $150-billion a year on its health care system leading many observers to contend the system’s inefficiencies are not down to a dearth of funding, rather that a silo mentality has developed due to a lack of integrated administration, care pathways, and funding envelopes.

A fragmented system

The key to unifying a compartmentalized health care system may lie in implementing a value-based health care framework, the goal of which is to lower costs and improve quality and outcomes.

“At the moment, it’s all about incidents of care, it’s not about the patient’s journey and I think that’s the problem with the way our health care system is set up,” says Neil D. Fraser, member of the Federal Advisory Panel for Health Care Innovation.

In a health care system run on a value-based model, a patient’s journey from diagnosis to recovery becomes one complete unit and all costs associated with their journey are bundled together. This model would essentially break down the silos in today’s system and because it is an outcomes-based approach, it puts patients’ well-beings front and centre.

A switch to value-based health care would require restructuring how health care is delivered, measured, and reimbursed. The health care technology sector will have a role to play with integrated pathway solutions.

The best outcomes at the best value

A number of innovative technologies that can save lives at a lower overall cost already exist but due to the fractured funding mechanism in Canada’s health sector, they are not always widely embraced.

A good example of this issue is the neurovascular stent retriever, which the Cleveland Clinic recently named one of the top 10 medical innovations of the year. Inserted into the body through the groin and woven up to the brain, the stent retriever can seize a blood clot present during ischemic stroke, remove it and — when used in tandem with clot-busting drugs — can save lives.

While the stent retriever provides a relatively high upfront cost within one department, it can cut costs for other departments downstream due to reduced treatment and rehabilitation. The problem, however, is that hospitals are not able to translate savings interdepartmentally due to siloed budgets. Value-based health care would accumulate all costs along a patient’s journey and could easily translate savings to offset increased costs in one area.

“I think a value-based health care system is an opportunity to deliver the best value and the best outcomes,” says Fraser. “How can you argue with that?”