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Health care regionalization comes with a big dollop of privatization

Hospital support services continue to be spun off to regionally based third-parties that provide services to a large number of hospitals and other health care providers.   Usually, at least some of the work is taken over by a private corporation.  Another example has just come our way.

The start of the fourth diagnostic imaging repository (DIR)in Ontario was announced yesterday. The GTA West DIR project joins three others, the Southwestern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network (SWODIN), The Northern and Eastern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network (NEODIN), and the Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Repository Services (HDIRS).   

eHealth Ontario now reports that this will be the last DIR establshed --earlier they had suggested there would be six. These DIRs cross LHIN boundaries (the GTA West project crosses five LHIN boundaries)  - so the 'regions' are getting ever bigger.

University Health Network (UHN) "will manage the funding for the GTA West DIR project and provide the project management," but CGI Group will be "responsible for the design, development and management" of the project.

CGI is a huge private corporation focused on information technology and business processes. It has 31,000 staff in 125 offices worldwide.  UHN will pay CGI $50 million over seven years.  Aside from building, designing, and managing the service, CGI will also provide 'support services' to the system's users.

Ironically, this regionalization of hospital support services also brings the possibility for more local care: a major selling point for these projects is that they are suppose to improve remote access to radiologists and reduce patient travel. We will see if the reality matches the rhetoric.

More on  on private sector moves into health care in the next post later today.   


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