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Hotels and health care: similar but different

When you stay in a hotel, what makes the experience exceptional? Is it the welcoming door-man? The friendly concierge? Maybe the efficient and thorough cleaning staff? In fact, it isn’t any individual person—it’s all of them, working together to make the guest feel special. The same can be said for health care. Gone are the days when nurses and doctors were considered to be the only true caregivers. In today’s healthcare environment, everyone plays a significant role—from the parking attendant to the medical secretary, from the accountant to the electrician. Not every member of staff has hands-on contact with users …

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It’s time to talk frankly about the implications of the way doctors are paid

To meet society’s growing demand for health care and social services that respond effectively to users’ needs, many changes have been introduced across Canada in recent years to the system that provides care. Some of these have been refinements, while others were significant overhauls, especially in Quebec. To varying degrees, improvement has resulted. However, significant and long-lasting progress will be difficult to achieve, if a particularly thorny issue is not addressed head-on: the outdated and sometimes incoherent way in which physicians are compensated for their services. As I point out in an article that will appear in the healthcare policy …

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Robotic surgery yields benefits, but deserves our ongoing scrutiny

When new medical technology is introduced, it’s only natural for us to be dazzled by the “Wow” factor, as we imagine treatments and cures that were previously thought impossible. That was the initial reaction to robot-assisted surgery in the early 2000s, but it was quickly followed by healthy skepticism: Would this type of surgery be effective for a wide range of patients? Would it really broaden surgeons’ capabilities? Would it be cost-effective? We now know the answer is Yes. Recently, at the JGH’s first conference on robotic surgery, experts from within the hospital, from elsewhere in Canada and from the …

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Continuing to build on our CIUSSS’s strong foundation

A little over three years ago, when CIUSSS West-Central Montreal had just come into existence, I expressed the hope that our staff would best serve the public by learning to work as a cohesive group with a real sense of collective identity. This could be done, I felt, by inspiring staff to build something together. Now that my initial three-year term has concluded, I can see how far we have come as true builders. I am also gratified that the Minister of Health and Social Services has re‑appointed me for a second term, because this means I can be actively …

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A cyber-security monster may be lurking in the shadows

For those of us in health care, there’s something grimly appropriate about the fact that this year marks the 200th anniversary since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published. Along with other enthralled readers over the past two centuries, we in the medical field are especially taken with the notion of harnessing audacious, new forms of technology to push the boundaries of the healing sciences. But now, more than ever, we are also becoming increasingly aware of the terrifying outcome if those marvelous creations are turned against us. This realization crossed my mind during a recent trip to Israel and Germany, where …

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Why I criss-crossed the corridors of the JGH at night

When I play an active role in the affairs of CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, it often involves, among other things, conferring with Ministry officials, meeting with the senior directors of our network, or examining the budgetary needs of our various facilities. However, experience has taught me how essential it sometimes can be to bid a brief good-bye to offices and meeting rooms, and instead, to actually get out there and see the way care is delivered. That’s why, not long ago, I spent several overnight shifts—and quite a few daylight hours—strolling through various departments of the Jewish General Hospital. For nearly …

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Think you’re special? Then be a purple cow!

If you want a great example of an author who practices what he preaches, look no further than Seth Godin. In his book, The Purple Cow, which I found intriguing and engrossing, he argues that in order for one’s product to stand out, it needs to be perceived as being something special. In other words, it needs to be portrayed as an eye-popping purple cow in a field of brown, black and white cows. So what did Godin do? He marketed the first, self-published edition of The Purple Cow—which eventually became a best seller—by packaging it in a milk carton …

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Public feedback is crucial to improving the quality of care

CIUSSS West-Central Montreal has come so far in its 2½-year existence that there was an unmistakable tone of confidence and optimism at our CIUSSS’s second annual Public Information Meeting earlier this month. I only wish that members of the public had attended in larger numbers. I’m not suggesting that we wanted a bigger turnout to garner more compliments for our performance in 2016-2017. Rather, I had hoped to hear from people whose expectations were not fully met. Ever since our CIUSSS was launched, we embraced the philosophy that improvement can happen only if we understand where, how and why we …

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Today’s fanciful speculation could well be tomorrow’s breakthrough

Try, if you can, to imagine a miraculous future where the heart of a recently deceased patient is implanted into the ailing body of another person. Where doctors use a robot to perform surgery that might otherwise be impossible. Where a patient’s medical data can be instantly viewed on the screen of a light-weight, portable computer. No, I’m not stuck in a time warp. I’m trying to illustrate the truth behind the cliché—overworked, but nonetheless valid—that yesterday’s science fiction often manages to enter our daily lives more quickly than we’re willing to believe. For example, a recent article in The …

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Standing strong despite overwhelming odds

No matter how successful we may be in achieving many of our goals, there are times when we just can’t shake the feeling that the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against us. Perhaps life has taken an unexpected turn (personally or professionally), or a new project is limping along, or the latest obstacles seem dismayingly high. That’s why I recently found O Jerusalem to be such a gripping read. Published in 1972, this book by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins is widely regarded as one of the best accounts of the creation of the State of Israel. At well over 600 …

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