Dr. Verma’s six proposed changes to Canadian health care

Dr. Rishi Verma, MDDigital Medicine Revolution, Featured, Preventative Medicine, Public Health

I am writing this blog to pay homage to Dr. Danielle Martin. She is a Canadian physician, health care administrator, and associate professor at the University of Toronto.

She recently wrote a book titled ‘Better Now – Six big ideas to improve health care for all Canadians’

The book has been discussed on CBC, The Toronto Star, and other independent sites.

Given my keen interest in this topic, I have come up with my own list of changes that are necessary for an optimal Canadian health care system.


Dr. Martin’s six proposed changes to Canadian Health Care


In her book, she discusses the following six changes:

Return to relationships
Re-establishment of the relationship between the patient and primary care provider

Limitation of wasteful and unnecessary testing
Too many unnecessary medical interventions are being conducted and we need to re-assess ‘the way things are done’

Anatomy of change
The concept of talking about change but not following through with change

Doing more with less
The system is not asking for more money; rather we need to tighten our current practice style

Nation with a drug problem
She proposes a universal national prescription drug program

Basic income for basic health
Health care should be uniformly available at a low cost for all


Dr. Verma’s six proposed changes to Canadian Health Care


In principle, I agree with the majority of her thoughts. I have a slightly amended list, which highlights the tenets of preventive medicine and encourages better use of technology in our system.

A change in focus to health prevention
Our system must change from a disease model to a prevention-based system. We will never win the battle of treating diseases that are escalating rapidly. Our only chance of slowing down the health burden is to make a dramatic shift in focus to preventive medicine.

This involves allowing prevention measures as insurable benefits, and educating physicians on the art and science of preventive medicine.

Encourage physicians to develop a connection with patients
Our modern day system has created an environment, which focuses on the symptom that the patient has, rather than the patient who has the symptom.

We must reverse this trend. Physicians are under severe time constraints, and are not given the opportunity to establish deep rapport with patients. The ten-minute office consult must be replaced with less frequent, longer appointments, which allow the patient to be heard. In the long term, this will save health care costs, as patient compliance will go up, and disease burden will fall.

Development of an allied health team
No man or woman is an island, and we should not conduct health care in such a fashion. There are many medical interventions that can be handed to allied team members, such as nutritionists, kinesiologists, and health coaches. If a physician knows they have back up resources, they can spend more time on their field of expertise.

Connect the system
Patients are always surprised to hear how fragmented the system is. They expect that if they saw a doctor at a separate location that he must have received direct notification of it. While this is sometimes the case, I am still shocked that the medical world works with faxes and snail mail as the primary means of communication.

Although there are privacy issues that must be addressed, a modern day, internet-based fully connected system is a must.

Educate physicians in a variety of modalities
Our physicians must be in touch with the needs and demands of society. Whether the physician ‘believes’ in vitamins, herbals, meditation, or nutrition based medicine vs drugs is irrelevant.

The reality is that at least half of our population believes in and uses some form of ‘alternative medicine’. It behooves our treating providers to be highly educated in the usage and interaction of all forms of medicine to properly guide the public.

Get up to speed with technology

When I look at advancements in technology in medicine, I am jealous of the offerings in the fields of diagnostic imaging and surgery. They are using state of the art equipment to diagnose and treat conditions.

We need to use similar technologies in the day-to-day health optimization world. These include wearable data, retinal blood glucose monitors, heart rate variability monitoring, and countless more. The physician must be educated in these modalities, and be able to use the results in the care plan of the patient.


The medicine of the future – today


I feel that all of the technologies required to have a top of the line Canadian medical system are readily available. The private system is normally ahead of the curve, and is already using many of these concepts.

My dream is to see the principles of prevention, technology, and relationships reinforced in the public system so that all Canadians can have access to the best health care in the world.


Yours in health,

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Dr. Rishi Verma, MD

Medical Director
Dr. Verma is one of Vancouver’s most regarded physicians in the field of integrative medicine. He is medical director of a group of six doctors, and is active in teaching doctors how to improve their delivery of health care. He also runs a busy integrative medicine practice with a dedicated group of clients.