Thursday, October 8, 2009

$1B Debacle - Go Figure

The title is a worth a thousand words. How can a country squander $1B in government aid towards health reform. As a long time professional in the grants and contracts industry, I am appalled by this scandal and shocked that it may happen in Canada, a country long-held as a refuge for immigrants and praised for its all-inclusive, universal health programs. When it comes at the heels of Hollywood's glorified praise of the Canadian health system in Michael Moore's Sicko, one almost feels cosigned by the same title. Canada has long-been the front-runner of healthy lifestyles and health and medical administration and perhaps, it got carried away with its leading image. All that government aid did seem justified when one considers the goal - to create holistic, electronic health records for the province of Ontario through a program that boasts a catchy moniker, EHealth. Why not the would-be consumer asks? However, because of untendered contracts, poor regulation, unregulated price control, expensive consultation and a whole host of other problems, a public travesty has now unfolded. Procurement procedures are very tightly controlled in the U.S. and rightfully so - that competitive bidding and other such initiatives don't spiral out of control. In the audits that followed the scandal, it almost seems that the program failed only because of too much government aid that led to the misuse and misallocation of funds by the glamor-mongers of industry who by all accounts, seemed to suck the funding dry. The fly buzzes at the ears and we realize that this is the cause of human error, greed and lack of economic diligence and accountability and perhaps, overinflated professional egoes. While Canada is at the forefront of the health industry, perhaps it might benefit from partnership with American firms, who are more capable of broader regulation, have sound consulting capabilities and considerable training in this field, all in order to give Canada a leg up with its EHealth initiative that now stands out like a black eye and a sore chin in the global community.

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