Guest Blogger Lauren Heinken, Student Occupational Therapist
For anyone with an interest in how Canada’s single-payer medicare system works and how it may be improved, this book written by Dr. Danielle Martin and released earlier this year is a must-read. Although it is written from a medical perspective, the author appreciates that an individual’s health is dependent on much more than biology, and the active role individuals need to play in their own medical care is emphasized throughout the book. Dr. Martin takes the time to acknowledge the psychosocial factors that can impact well-being, and as a whole her perspective aligns well with the profession of Occupational Therapists. Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Healthcare for All Canadians is written in such a way that it can be appreciated by anyone who reads it, but those who have direct contact or personal experience with Canada’s medical system may benefit the most from it’s content.
The book’s introduction showcases Dr. Martin’s rational stance on many issues that at times provoke excessive fear amongst Canadians. An example of such an issue is the economic impact that the country’s aging population may have on the healthcare system. This book is able to provide an alternative, and often more optimistic view, on these “hot” issues compared with the fear-provoking opinions that are often shared through other media sources.
Each of the “six big ideas” discussed in this book form a chapter, and each chapter begins with Dr. Martin introducing a real-life patient case that demonstrates and supports the idea. Aside from providing a human component to the systems-level issues discussed in this book, these patient cases are useful in providing an opportunity for readers to apply chapter content to an actual user of the healthcare system. This helps facilitates readers being able to wrap their heads around what truly are “big ideas”.
You may be questioning what the relevance of this book is to OT practice. An issue identified within the book is that our medical system tends to be one that is largely disjointed, with different parts of the system often not communicating clearly with one another. This lack of connectivity comes at a cost to both individuals who use the system and those who fund it. Although implementation of better communication technology will play a large part in addressing this problem, I would argue that it could at least be improved if health practitioners and those administering the system knew a little bit more about what each other did. This book is a good way for OTs to learn more about the medical system, and they may potentially use this knowledge to influence a smoother and more cohesive system experience for their clients. It also better equips OTs to provide appropriate answers to questions they might be asked that relate to navigating the healthcare system.
The only disappointment in this book is the absence of the OT profession when Dr. Martin speaks to “other healthcare professionals”. OTs have the potential to make big contributions to proactive healthcare, but also to improving how the system functions and these are not explicitly considered in this book. However, OTs know their scopes best and have the skills to advocate for their contributions, so their absence in this book creates an opportunity for them to fill the gap. How? Stay-tuned for this to be discussed in a later blog post.