It’s time for governments to let go of the industrial economy model as the architecture and operational framework for society. The COVID19 pandemic crisis has demonstrated the inadequacy of government policies and programs that adhere to an obsession with supporting large corporations and offshoring, low taxes, minimum wages, and shell public services that are woefully under resourced and understaffed. Health is the new wealth and smart government is the new model for the design and delivery of programs in what is a new age service economy.
The pandemic has exposed the flaws in relying on the off shoring for the production of health supplies, equipment and vaccines. Canada, is ranked as a developed country with the 9th largest global economy. However, it was relegated to an underdeveloped country status as it stood in line begging for everything from masks, medical equipment and vaccines from countries that had the foresight and smarts to create home- based health equipment, supplies and vaccines providers. Health must become recognized by governments as one of the fundamental pillars of strategic production and job creation in the country.
The Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) fiasco exposed how a federal governmental agency with global expertise was diminished to name only status with a skeleton workforce in conformance with the conventional public policy mantra of cost containment. In a globally connected community in which rampant disease transmission (remember SARS) and pandemics are now embedded as normal health risks, governmental agencies such as GPHIN aren’t costs. They’re investments. A GPHIN with the enviable best practices pandemic early warning capability it once had would have resulted in tens of billions of dollars of savings in pandemic management costs along with lives saved.
The era of the rigid doctor nurse “closed shop” silo in the delivery of publicly funded health care and management is obsolete. Health is holistic. There are now 30 self-regulated health professions in Ontario. Health services are arguably the fastest growing sector in an aging economy.
“New age” health services are job creators. Smart government at both the provincial and federal levels must cease treating public health care as a cost where the driving force is containment and embrace it as an investment with an acknowledgement that a healthy society is a wealthy society. Citizens of all ages with divergent capabilities can make meaningful contributions with holistic health support from the mix of “new age” para-professionals and professionals looking for burgeoning career opportunities. Public health care must be integrated into universal health care.
But won’t universal health care bankrupt the government? Certainly not. COVID 19 has opened the door to the introduction of innovative approaches to health care access and services. Out of necessity people are becoming accustomed to using the phone and computerized intake forms as the initial point of online access to a health care practitioner or facility. This is the first step in what is labelled as “task encroachment” by high-tech. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already developed nascent alternative health support systems (AHSP) that have the capability to accurately diagnose and prepare comprehensive holistic health care programs through direct online access by a prospective patient to the best qualified cost- effective practitioner. AI will eliminate first level costly inefficiencies, such as the mandatory visit to your doctor for what you and the doctor know will just be a referral, and enable health care para-professional and professionals to directly interface with patients cost effectively at the level where the most appropriate personalized expertise is needed.
Yes, taxes will go up in this emergent health is wealth era. Smart government does mean more government, albeit government of a different kind with a “best practices” orientation. But what has rigid adherence to an out of date low cost/low taxes industrial model with shell public service agencies cost us as a society?
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John G. Kelly
Mentoring & Counselling