Can a collapse in healthcare budgets force more effective healthcare delivery?

In Canada, it might just happen. Healthcare systems in the provinces of Alberta and Newfoundland & Labrador may have their budgets significantly impacted by declining oil prices this year. Both provinces are forecasting significant provincial-wide budget deficits. Alberta will go from a healthy surplus of $1.5 billion, to a $500 million deficit, while Newfoundland & Labrador is forecasting a budget deficit of almost $1 billion. A $1 billion dollar deficit is a significant amount for a small province like Newfoundland & Labrador.

As reported by the Canadian Press, the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador held a Healthcare Summit last week. Health Minister Steve Kent said: “The goal is to create a new primary health-care framework focused on community care and to promote healthy living and disease prevention”. Many healthcare systems already recognise that hospitals, acute care, and complex patients are some of the most expensive components of healthcare. It's apparent that province like other jurisdictions, realises the clinical and financial benefits of better care coordination in the community – less acute-care episodes, less isotropic events, less adverse drug events, more effective care prevention, and more empowered patients.

From a patient safety perspective, any new framework that involves care coordination requires the ability to maintain compatible patient care plans across multiple providers and specialists, especially for patients with more than one condition. The Province of Newfoundland & Labrador will need a care coordination technology solution to enable continuity of care plans in an effective and efficient manner.

Sometimes you need a burning platform to make real improvements in the healthcare. It appears that Newfoundland & Labrador has a burning platform and is ready to use it.


  • Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2014 National Health Expenditures,
  • Image courtesy of num_skyman at
  • L. premier hosts summit on Canada's costliest health system, The Canadian Press, January 14, 2015