Ottawa’s Integrated Hospital Laboratory Service Takes the Next Step

The Ottawa Citizen announced the start of the Ottawa area hospitals integrated laboratory service.  The Citizen somehow links this development to Don Drummond. It has nothing to do with Drummond.  This particular project dates back to 1996, is fully within the public sector and continues a long tradition, back to 1967, of Ontario’s hospitals cooperating to improve laboratory services for both inpatients and community patients.

Whether this initiative will improve laboratory services, especially for the smaller area hospitals, depends on the details, but there is potential.  This development is also not the real story.

The real story is the regulatory limitation on Ottawa’s new laboratory.  Drummond called for more integration and yet Ministry of Health’s policy is to divide the laboratory sector between inpatients and community patients. The two shall never cooperate even if it would work better.  There is no wiggle room only bureaucratic order.  So the new Ottawa project, which could integrate hospital laboratory work  with community laboratory work, and make the whole system more efficient and provide a more complete service to all patients, cannot.  Calgary Laboratory Services, where the CEO of the new lab worked before Ottawa, does just that.  It is a public sector operation that integrates all laboratory services in the Calgary area.

I look forward to seeing the details of the Ottawa operation.  One historical detail that is missing is how much money was paid to Gamma-Dynacare as a consultant on the project before 2006 and a full accounting of its influence.

While we need to wait and see how the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association works, it once again reminds us that, in the history of Canadian health care, the best solutions have come from the public sector and often involve the integration of many services.  Unfortunately in Ontario, the Ministry is bound and determined to protect the multinational laboratory companies so we are denied the best laboratory services.

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