By Shaun Tandon, CNN
(CNN) — Data show that half of all survivors of chronic, traumatic injury receive no follow-up care following successful surgery.
The mandate for a new electronic medical record system in Canada has officials zeroing in on improving care after surgery, particularly when it comes to female victims of neurotrauma.
Enter Canada’s “COVID-19” initiative.
The initiative provides seamless care for female survivors and their caregivers across the country, offering more support in the same way as other cancer treatment. And unlike in other countries, it’s happening on a national level — a first in the field.
It is the newest project under the Trichological Initiatives (pdf), which Canada’s Health Ministry launched in 2014 to create a better health care system for those with neurological injuries, according to CNN affiliate CTV.
“The existing system is fragmented, and it’s also convoluted,” Valerie Gold, associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of British Columbia, said. “A lot of this stuff is happening over provinces and they don’t talk to each other.”
COVID-19 is a targeted effort to reduce disparities in care and to ensure that women with traumatic brain injury are not left behind, Gold said.
Following some traumatic brain injury (TBI) accidents, women could be left out of treatment because they may not be seen until after other patients have been tracked.
Also, when women are hurt, they may not have had early enough follow-up care, which is also a concern, said Aaron Beck, former Canadian health minister.
Beck said Canada has already made efforts to improve care after traumatic brain injury (TBI) before COVID-19 was formed.
“It didn’t accomplish the goal of being a comprehensive (treatment) effort, but certainly there’s been a lot of good activity already,” he said.
Concrete efforts include improving communication between provinces — which hasn’t happened in the past, Beck said. For example, in some cases, the federal government would pay for a treatment, and the province providing it wouldn’t be required to give the federal government access to records about the treatment’s success.
Information has been about to be shared about progress with provinces for data and clinical outcomes. And that’s “going to be the first step for many, many years,” Beck said.
Gold said that besides sorting out payment and resources, Canada needs to “put together strategic interventions that really integrate trauma work into our care system.”
“We need to be able to provide breast cancer care. We need to provide heart surgery. We need to provide trauma care,” she said. “We don’t ask the question: How can we remove breast cancer? It’s a very, very fundamental need that transcends all other diseases, both the physical and the psychosocial.”
Beck said earlier this month that Canada is a leader in “quantifying the health need” by getting data from research and implementing care programs based on data.