Evolution in models of primary care

British Columbia has jettisoned its ambitious 2013 election promise to match everyone in the province with a family doctor. It’s yet another sign that governments are beginning to recognise an evolution in the provision of primary medical care — an evolution that’s supported by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

The GP for Me program had aimed to match every BC resident with a family physician (FP) by the end of 2015. That didn’t happen, despite the fact that BC has 125 FPs per 100 000 population — higher than the national average of 114. Instead of individual FPs, BC will match people with a primary care team that includes doctors as well as nurse practitioners, mental health counsellors, physiotherapists and others. Read more in CMAJ.

American cardiologist wins 2015 Prince Mahidol prize

Morton Mower, who developed two cardiac devices that have helped millions of people worldwide, has been honoured by the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation.

Morton Mower admits that it was a “crazy” idea that won him Thailand’s 2015 Prince Mahidol Award for medicine. Mower was recognised for his work on developing the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) and the cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) device. “We were these crazy guys who wanted to put a time bomb in people’s chests, so to speak”, Mower says. Read more in The Lancet.

Survey aims to capture patient experience

Patients who have spent time in hospital in Canada will soon be asked to rate their experience as part of an effort by the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) to document and improve patient care across Canada.

“CIHI has been really focused on health system performance reporting, and the kinds of things you need to measure in order to understand [it],” says Kira Leeb, CIHI’s director of health system performance. “Part of that is understanding the patient experience.” Read more in CMAJ.


Ebola needed better coordinated Canadian response

IMG_7104Canada needs to step up its game when responding to international disease outbreaks, says New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, who spent more than six months in Africa with the World Health Organization during the Ebola outbreak. Dr. Eilish Cleary was disappointed that the Public Health Agency of Canada was not able to deploy teams of public health experts to help with the response.

“When I was there, especially in the beginning, there were a lot of people from other countries — Americans, a lot of Euro­peans particularly, but there were not that many Canadians. Some Canadian doctors had gone independently, but there was no organized group,” she says. “I think the value for money is better if you send teams.” Read more in CMAJ.

How to Test the Potency of Pot-Infused Foods

Photo by Jahan Marcu

Photo by Jahan Marcu

Eating a bag of THC-laced gummy bears may seem like a safer way of taking your medical marijuana than smoking a joint, but how do you know that you’re actually getting the right dose? It turns out the labels on edible products—when they even exist—are often inaccurate, and testing is actually very hard to do.

Up to a quarter of medical cannabis users in the US get their dose from edible products such as oils, brownies or candies. In Canada, the Supreme Court ruled in June that patients should be allowed to ingest edible medical marijuana, too. But while the number of products and the places such products are sold continues to grow, the regulations that govern how edibles should be labelled vary between jurisdictions, and are often weak and poorly enforced. Read more on Motherboard.

Patient safety a matter of design

An international group of health care systems has begun a year-long project to gather and share data on how to design systems to improve patient safety.

Leading Health Systems Network (LHSN), a partnership between Qatar’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and Imperial College London, launched the Safer Care Accelerator in March to share best practices and expedite improvement in patient safety. The network is a group of 16 health systems from around the world, including Vancouver Coastal Health and Quebec’s Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS), that share data and benchmark their performance against one another. Read more in CMAJ.

Rare enterovirus continues to circulate in North America

D68, an uncommon strain of enterovirus, has caused an unexpectedly high number of respiratory illnesses across the USA and has now appeared in Canada.

A rare strain of enterovirus that can cause severe respiratory illness in children is circulating throughout the USA and Canada, causing a higher than usual number of infections.

Between mid-August and Sept 26, 277 people in 40 states and the District of Columbia have tested positive for enterovirus D68, all but one of them children, reports the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)in Atlanta, GA. National numbers are not available for Canada, but the virus has been detected in several provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Read more in The Lancet.

Exercise prescriptions endorsed

IMG_6714Doctors in two Canadian provinces are using exercise prescription pads to encourage patients to lead healthier, more active lifestyles. Doctors of BC (British Columbia) and the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) offer free pads to their members so they can give patients a physical reminder of the exercise advice they’ve been given by their physicians.

Dr. Lynn Hansen, president of NBMS, said the pads are intended to help patients stick to their exercise regimes. “If they have something in writing, it provides a more permanent reminder of the conversation they had with their doctor,” she said. “We know not everything that is said in the doctor’s office is retained.” Read more in CMAJ.

BMA votes to end investment in fossil fuels

The British Medication Association set an international precedent with a vote to end its investment in fossil fuel companies. The motion also urged the BMA to switch its electricity supply to renewable sources and to help create an alliance of health care bodies to promote the health benefits of reducing greenhouse gasses. Read more in CMAJ.

Mapping biomedical research in the USA

An overview of biomedical research in the USA—the major funders, trends, and strengths and weaknesses facing the world’s major scientific superpower.

The biomedical research landscape in the USA is so vast and comprehensive that it can be difficult to get a handle on specifics. But within the expanse of the biomedical specialty, there are a few unique aspects that stand out.

America is a leader in funding for biomedical research, from government, industry, and the non-profit sector. And, for such a large country, the research community is remarkably spread out, with high-quality work being done in every region of the nation. But the dominance of the USA is slowly being challenged by the rise in both volume and quality of research done in other countries, though it will be some time yet before any challenger will be able to seize the top spot. Read more in The Lancet.