Three Big Ideas To Transform Health Care


2014, Health

Last spring, Dr. Danielle Martin took on a U.S. Senate committee and defended Canada's health care system. While igniting pride from coast to coast, Dr. Martin also acknowledged that our health care system still has a long way to go.

Join us on November 27th to hear this health care leader's three big ideas on how we can improve our health care system for every Canadian.

Canadians are wildly proud of our health care system, but it isn’t perfect. The dual promise of Medicare is to deliver accessible, high quality services in an equitable way, and to give us something to be proud of. As we continue try to deliver on that promise, we must be willing to examine the best available evidence so that we can separate fact from fiction, and failure from success. In this presentation, Dr. Martin will put forward three big ideas that can help deliver on the promise of Medicare and are worthy of its iconic status.

The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Joy Johnson, SFU Vice-President, Research the Scientific Director for the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


  • 5:30 pm - Registration
  • 6:00 pm - Keynote & Moderated Q & A
  • 7:30 pm - Reception
Thu, 27 Nov 2014

7:00 p.p (PT)

SFU Segal Graduate School of Business
Room 1200
500 Granville Street

We respectfully acknowledge that this event takes place on the Unceded, Traditional, Ancestral Territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm First Nations.


Dr. Danielle Martin

Danielle Martin is Vice-President, Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions at Women's College Hospital (WCH) and a family physician in the Family Practice Health Centre at WCH. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Danielle is a national leader on issues relating to health care policy, working as an expert both within and outside academia on issues relating to the preservation and enhancement of public health care, and the intersection of primary care with other parts of our health and social systems. She is also the medical correspondent for CBC’s The National, a regular guest on the Steven and Chris Show, a columnist for Canadian Living and an in-demand speaker on the future of Canada’s health care system.

In 2006 Danielle helped launch Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) and chaired the board of CDM until May 2013.  She sat two terms on the Health Council of Canada and is a recipient of the Canadian Medical Association Award for Young Leaders. In 2013 she was named by the Toronto Star in its list of the "13 People to Watch.”

In her work at WCH Danielle is helping to advance the vision for Women’s College Hospital as a “hospital designed to keep people out of hospital”, developing and evaluating new models of care that deliver solutions to the most pressing issues facing Canada’s health system.


Joy Johnson

Joy Johnson is SFU’s fifth Vice-President, Research. She joined the university in September 2014 after serving as the Scientific Director for the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) since January of 2008.

Dr. Johnson has a long-standing interest and leadership in the field of gender and health. She served on the inaugural steering committee for the B.C. Centre of Excellence for Women's Health and was a co-leader on the B.C. Network for Women's Health Research. Dr. Johnson founded and co-directed the highly successful multidisciplinary research unit NEXUS, dedicated to research, knowledge translation and training in the social contexts of health behaviour. She served as the Chair of the Research Advisory Committee of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. She has served on and chaired research review panels for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

Dr. Johnson has a highly productive program of research focusing on health promotion and health behaviour change. Drawing on a broad array of theoretical perspectives her work explores the social, structural and individual factors that influence the health behaviour of individuals. A major thrust of her work focuses on sex and gender issues in substance use and mental health. She has obtained millions of dollars in research funding from national funding organizations and has published more than 170 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Johnson’s work has been recognized with numerous awards including the UBC Killam Research Prize. In 2010, she was recognized as one of British Columbia’s 100 Women of Influence. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Event Recap

Beedie hears Dr. Danielle Martin’s three big ideas to transform healthcare

Orginially published in the Beedie Newsroom on Dec 1, 2014

The Canadian healthcare system is one that Canada can rightly be proud of – but that is not to say that there is not work needed. Specific improvements relating to equality, cost, and access would address the challenges faced by the system, for the benefit of all Canadians.

Dr. Danielle Martin, Vice-President, Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions at Women’s College Hospital, presented three ideas on these areas to improve Canadian healthcare at a special SFU Public Square event.

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The event, held at the Beedie School of Business’ Segal Graduate School on November 27, was delivered in partnership with SFU’s Faculty of Science, the SFU School of Public Policy, the City of Vancouver, and the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

It was attended by a diverse cross section of attendees, including guests from a variety of health authorities, Beedie School of Business students, faculty, and alumni, and physicians from the Beedie Executive Education GPSC Leadership and Management Development Program.

Martin noted that from coast to coast Canadians see their system as the highest expression of Canadians caring for one another. It was built on a dual promise of delivering accessible, high quality service in an equitable way, and giving the nation something of which to be proud.

The question now, is how do you make a social program worthy of iconic status? To tackle the problems faced by the system, Martin identified three ideas – cost, equality and access – to drive change for the better.

“Our system does a terrific job of delivering when someone is seriously ill, but the reality is there are places we need to improve,” said Martin. “In the areas of cost, equality, and access, we have much to be proud of, and we have a lot of work to do.”

Her first idea – relating to cost – acknowledges the issue that the healthcare system has evolved significantly since its inception in the 1950s, when the bulk of healthcare was delivered by doctors in hospitals.

Nowadays, one of the mainstays of treating chronic disease is prescription medicine – yet as one of the only healthcare systems in the world where patients are charged for prescription medicines, one in ten Canadians does not take their medication as described because of concerns about cost.

Acknowledging that moving prescription care under Medicare would not be immediately possible, Martin suggests moving the top 20 most common prescriptions under public coverage, arguing that the change would result in public savings.

“In Canada we pay much higher prices for drugs than other systems do,” she said. “In BC, 10 milligrams of a popular cholesterol lowering pill goes for 37 cents – the exact same pill sells for less than a penny in New Zealand. If we bargain more effectively across the country, the prices would go down.”

Secondly, she proposed doing more with less – improving access to healthcare for Canadians that need it most by reorganizing the way it is delivered.

“We need to take the resources available to us and use them more efficiently,” she said. “If wait times are long, don’t immediately hire more surgeons – instead ask two questions: would everyone on the wait list benefit from this procedure; and could the bottle neck causing the wait list be alleviated?”

To accomplish this, Martin suggested eliminating inappropriate treatments, such as MRI and CT scans. This could be achieved by having other types of medical professionals evaluate whether the patient required the treatment.

She also proposed implementing applied queuing – a single common queue where patients are served at the next available opening – nationwide, after a successful trial in part of Ontario had reduced wait times from 19 months to seven months for certain treatments.

Her third idea differed in its approach, in that it focused on the root cause of the strongest predictor of health – income. With studies showing that low income Canadians are more likely to die at a younger age than those with higher incomes, Martin proposed bringing all Canadians up to a standard of living.

As well as improving health, income security would provide peace of mind for families, secure in the knowledge that illness would not automatically result in them falling on hard times.

Following her presentation, Martin participated in a spirited Q&A session, touching on subjects such as how physicians can help to reduce the number of treatments prescribed to patients; the barriers in pushing forward pharmacare; the idea of a centralized intake; and how to implement her three big ideas in a political landscape that is based on short term cycles.

For more information about healthcare executive education at the Beedie School of Business, visit