Health-care monitor fears key patient information getting lost in paper shuffle

OTTAWA — If Canada wants to improve its health-care system, it should start by better organizing all the bits and pieces of crucial information that confound doctors, patients and administrators, says the Health Council of Canada. The council is responsible for monitoring progress on a 10-year federal-provincial health accord that infused provincial systems with $41 billion in federal money in 2004. In its latest evaluation released Tuesday, the council said that many provinces have laid the groundwork for better-quality health care in some areas. But progress is patchy, varying greatly province by province. Information on the system's health as a whole — let alone that of individual patients — is unreliable...The report is a call for a stronger federal role in health care, especially in pharmaceutical strategy, said NDP health critic Libby Davies. "The federal government has been absent," Davies said. "The report expresses concern about the patchwork effect. Some provinces have made progress on some issues, other provinces on other things. But what is it that holds it together? It's got to be the federal government."