Blog #3 – Innovation and Solutions in Healthcare

This fall is likely to herald significant changes to Canadian healthcare. The healthcare policy of whichever party comes into office following the federal election October 21, 2019 will dictate how pharmaceuticals will be priced and paid for in Canada. We are told that the final direction may put access to new drugs and innovation in Canada at risk, but that is not the only aspect of our healthcare system subject to change. As telemedicine, virtual care and digital health innovators develop new solutions for public and private payers, patient demand for more convenient healthcare solutions will continue to grow. Payers, whether public or private, and regulators must not lose sight of opportunities that will improve access and patient care as they strive to manage costs within an ever more complex healthcare system.

In the Media:

Telemedicine and Digital Health are in the news again. While the private health system is making virtual connections to health care and health records a reality, the public side, not so much. However, that may be changing. Demand from rural communities in Ontario means that virtual care is being practiced in limited ways and there is already a provincial network for telemedicine across the country, recently mapped online by Benefits by Design. Earlier this year Alberta moved to an online MyHealth Records system, through which Albertans can access their own medical records including immunization history, medications and lab test results as well as keep journals of health goals and upload from personal health devices. Explore some of these in the links below and private sector developments at the next Benefits Breakfast Club meeting. A link to this is also provided below.

Working Better With Age – The OECD Report Working Better With Age highlights risks to further improvements in living standards and social expenditures across OECD countries because of the expected risk rise in the median age and ratio of older people (aged 65 and over) to people of working age. While people 55-64 are more active in the labour market than ever before, progress remains uneven and in almost all countries the age of those exiting the labour market is lower today than 30 years ago. The report calls for more efforts to promote inclusion of 55-64 year-olds and strengthening working lives beyond age 65 and encourage employers to hire and retain older workers in better jobs. Lack of computer skills in the older population and limited training opportunities are cited as one barrier to be overcome. One third have no computer skills and/or experience. The report also cites that the challenge in most OECD countries will be to narrow gender gaps in the labour-market activity. Finally, there will be challenges to ensure a smooth transition of young cohorts into the labour market.

 

PMPRB – there is no shortage of information on the PMPRB and regulations that plan to change the number and mix of comparator countries for setting prices of Canada’s new prescription drugs effective July 1, 2020 (most notably the U.S. and Switzerland will be dropped). According to a recent Morse Consulting publication available through the link below, the price ceiling will be set by the median of the comparator countries, versus the previous highest international price. The regulations will include pharmacoeconomics (for drugs above roughly $26,000-$29,000 annually), market size and GDP as additional factors for drugs in the final version of the Regulations. The impact will likely be to lower drug prices for all Canadians including private group plans; however, fewer new drugs may be launched in Canada limiting access to Canadians. Pharmaceutical research and development in Canada, including clinical trials could also be at risk. According to Morse, the Guidelines are expected to be released in mid September and will invite dialogue. Pharma is not going to go down without a fight, however. Responses to the amended regulations have already included the filing of a constitutional challenge in Quebec and will no doubt include additional submissions in the 90-day period allowed after the Guidelines are released.

We’ll be back to you soon. Your questions or comments are welcome. Contact me at denisebalch@connexhc.com or call 905 220 4260. Have a great week!

 

 

Denise Balch, Principal Consultant and President, Connex Health

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