Fresh Takes

Specialized Medical Clinics Are Health Care System Allies

If you’ve been waiting months for an operation, what’s your main concern? Is it the administrative structure of the facility where you will be treated, or is it rather a reduction in the time you have to wait? To ask the question is to answer it.

And that’s what the Quebec government seems to have concluded, as it is increasingly calling on specialized medical clinics, run by independent entrepreneurs, in order to shrink the governmental hospital system’s waiting lists.

Thanks to a series of contracts between government-run hospitals and independent clinics, public sector doctors can make use of operating rooms in private clinics in order to perform day surgeries—the only kind of surgery independent clinics are allowed to provide in Quebec.

Since the start of the pandemic, no fewer than 85,000 operations—covered by medicare—have been performed in private operating rooms in Quebec. That’s nearly one in seven operations.

With more than 160,000 Quebecers on a waiting list for surgery—over 20,000 of whom have been waiting longer than twelve months—the government would be crazy to pass up the help independent medical clinics bring to the health care system.

Each surgery carried out in these clinics’ operating rooms both helps shrink waiting lists and allows hospital resources to be used to treat more serious cases. For doctors, the end result is that they can perform more operations, and generally with greater productivity given the highly specialized nature of these clinics.

It’s not uncommon to see clinics run by independent entrepreneurs lend a helping hand to governmental systems in countries with universal health care. In France, for example, no fewer than 55% of clinics and hospitals are run by entities other than the government. In Sweden, hospitals run by independent administrators, such as the Saint-Göran hospital, help by providing care to the population, covered by universal health insurance.

In a context in which our governmental care facilities are struggling to treat Quebecers within a reasonable time frame, the increased capacity that specialized medical clinics offer should be celebrated. After all, obtaining the care you need in a timely manner is much more important in a health care system than the administrative structure of its facilities.

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