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TORONTO, Sept. 19, 2023 – Laboratory Medicine is at the heart of Canada’s healthcare system, with virtually every medical procedure requiring a lab test before, during, or after treatment. As a result, when Laboratory Medicine is underfunded, disproportionately large snowball effects are felt throughout the system, as bottlenecks in lab testing both result in and amplify delays in patient diagnosis and treatment. This is happening now in Canada, with chronic underfunding exacerbating both pre-existing and COVID-19-related wait lists and contributing to diagnostic and procedural backlogs.
The sector is in urgent need of renewal. To remedy the situation, LabCANDx is recommending that Canada invest $3.75 billion over a five-year period ($750M/year). This will involve targeted funding that aligns with federal mandates. These investments will support the government’s desire to integrate human resource development, technological innovation, and efficient healthcare delivery, with broad-based economic growth in the following key areas.
Training and education. Laboratory Medicine across the country is suffering from a health human resources (HHR) crisis, and in particular, from acute shortages of adequately trained staff. There is reduced educational capacity due to cutbacks, which is combined with increased labour demand, and significant attrition due to retirement/burnout. The shortage is widespread, from college-trained technologists to university-educated specialists and physicians.
Infrastructure. Canada has an opportunity to upgrade laboratory capacity in a way that aligns with federal and provincial health mandates. Improving infrastructure capabilities will drive real results, saving both money and lives.
Appropriate technologies. Canada’s healthcare system is in serious need of investment in new innovations that can expand delivery while lowering costs. There are many examples where deployment of existing and proven technologies can make a huge difference, including digital informatics, Point of Care Testing, mobile collection units, and in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Remote care. Targeted investments in laboratory medicine can significantly improve the quality of care to Indigenous and remote/rural communities, while improving health outcomes and lowering the cost of care delivery.
Precision medicine. Precision medicine can reduce health costs by optimizing therapy. It can also improve patient outcomes in a range of areas, including oncology and among rare diseases. This is a promising and exciting field where Canada is playing catch-up.
“Laboratory medicine is indispensable to almost every field of medical practice, including early detection and optimal treatment of a wide spectrum of diseases. Significant investments in education, infrastructure and technology are urgently needed to ensure excellent healthcare for all Canadians and to address the critical challenges of growing procedure and treatment backlogs.” David Hwang, BSc, MD, PhD, FRCPC. Department of Laboratory Medicine & Molecular Diagnostics, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
For further information: please contact LabCANDx at email@example.com