Nova Scotia's consolidated health system was launched on April 1, 2015. This new approach to organizing health administration and services in the province arose out of necessity. When planning began, Nova Scotia was spending 41% of its annual budget on health services. In comparison to other provinces and territories, our per capita health-related spending was among the highest in the country, we had one of Canada's oldest populations and we had some of the worst health outcomes. Clearly, we could not continue to do the same things and expect different results.
Both the life sciences and technology are changing at breakneck speed, while design of healthcare delivery has barely moved beyond a mid-twentieth century paternalistic provider-centric model. Nova Scotia's transformation journey was facilitated by a major policy effort 20 years earlier that had integrated emergency health services across the province. Our aim was to build on that foundation by integrating administration in order to build primary care networks with enhanced regional specialty services, with tertiary services located in Halifax.
The goal of health system innovation in Nova Scotia was – and is – based firmly on the dimensions of quality: safe care that avoids harming patients; effective care that is based on levels of evidence to achieve scalability; access to care that is focused on individuals; efficient care that reduces waste, time, energy and supplies; and equitable care that ensures a system is in place that mitigates differences in geography and social economic status. The author offers a sketch of the principal initiatives, challenges, considerations, approaches and lessons involved in this multi-factorial, multi-stakeholder innovation process.
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