New Brunswick releases new five year health plan

On November 17, 2021 New Brunswick released its five year health plan, describing its various priorities for the province’s health care system for the years ahead. Read the health plan here.

APPTA Scientific Director Dr. Daniel Dutton provides a statement in response to the newly released health plan:

This is an ambitious plan with tight timelines to achieve massive improvements to the New Brunswick health care system. Many of the immediate technology-related goals are to address efficiency: patients booking appointments through central systems, health information portals, and self-scheduling for tests. These are important updates to the health care system and will likely improve its function.

Longer term goals include more offerings for virtual consultations with medical professionals and increased technology in the home to monitor individuals aging-in-place, both of which APPTA has studied. This convergence of GNB’s plan and the material we have made available is exciting to me, it’s great to see our stakeholders’ policy priorities make it into government action plans. The implementation model for these technology initiatives in the face of other funding priorities in this document will be critical to their success.Technology initiatives need to happen along with complementary initiatives that let everyone participate. Our work has highlighted non-health care sector factors related to technology that are also important to improving the health of older adults, factors like training, outreach to rural or otherwise remote areas, and appropriate income support to achieve and use these technologies. The importance of non-health care sector interventions to health was present in the GNB release “Striving for Dependable Public Health Care” discussion paper, but seems absent in this specific action plan. I hope that this plan is executed in tandem with the type of non-health sector interventions required to deliver equitable care in the province, which will probably require other Departments outside of Health to achieve optimal outcomes.

In Canada, health care is a unique industry, it is the only one where technology is a cost-driver. This plan highlights opportunities for technology adoption to save public health care dollars as part of a larger reform, while holds great promise. Our work continues to inform policymakers across the country and if NB has potential to show the benefits of technology adoption on a scale that we rarely observe; other jurisdictions will be watching how this rolls out and it promises to be an interesting initiative.

-Dr. Daniel Dutton, APPTA Scientific Director