Strategic Thoughts

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February 5, 2007

Board of Trade Health Clock

Interest groups and governments that try to influence the news occasionally foreshadow an event by releasing a bit of news the day before the event. In that spirit the Vancouver Board of Trade posted a "health clock" to the top of its website on Monday in anticipation of its Tuesday conference titled "Check Up 2007: Options and Opportunities for Better Health Care in British Columbia". The Board's clock, similar to the debt clock it popularized in the 1990s, is not new; the Conversation on Health's website carries a similar clock. The only difference is the Board of Trade's clock purports to count the amount spent on health care in B.C. today while the Conversation's clock says it is counting the amount spent since the viewer logged onto its site. You could replace health spending with any other item of expenditure from food to the military and it would be equally meaningless. Of course, most industries would consider it a success if spending on their product or service increased, but since government took charge of health insurance it seems to be a problem to spend so as to satisfy demand when it comes to health care.

Premier Campbell is the noon hour speaker at the Board's conference. It appears that he can find room in his schedule for his usual boosters even though his schedule didn't permit his attendance at the Kamloops forum on the Conversation on Health. Some speculated that the prospect of demonstrations turned Campbell away; not much prospect of that amongst the Board of Trade crowd at the Hyatt. I will be in attendance to hear what is said and give readers of StrategicThoughts my perspective on not only the Premier's remarks but also a host of other interesting presenters, including the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority's CEO, Ida Goodreau, who will be part of a panel commenting on remarks about how the US Veterans Health Administration is run.

Presenters at the panel should not be judged by the way the Board of Trade is spinning the issue with its health clock. Immediately prior to the Premier's presentation, Glenda Yeates, President and CEO, of the Canadian Institute for Health Information will speak on the topic "TOMORROW'S TRENDS TODAY: Future Forces and Challenges Shaping Health Care". As leader of Canada's watchdog on health statistics, Yeates knows better than anyone that the projection of health spending reaching 70% of total provincial spending by 2017 is nonsense. Hopefully she will set a tone that will put the Campbell government's clock message in perspective while focusing on resource consumption in health care relative to the economy's ability to provide resources. She's unlikely to touch the political hot potato of how a society can afford tax cuts while saying that it cannot afford health care, but we might hear the Premier repeat remarks on that theme like those he made at the last BC Liberal Convention.

Stay tuned for a full report on the Board of Trade Conference which is co-sponsored by the UBC Centre for Health Care Management whose colleagues just across campus at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research are sponsoring another heath conference on February 22nd at the Bayshore. Ida Goodreau is also listed as a confirmed speaker for that conference. Your scribe will also attend and report here on that conference.


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