The Canadian healthcare system is primarily considered a reactive healthcare system. This system is designed to diagnose and treat illness. However, the system is not intended to help prevent its onset. Occupational therapists working using a reactive care model typically rely on patients to contact them when they notice illness symptoms, and patients are often passive recipients of their care. Treatments or therapies are usually focused on the symptoms instead of understanding the root-cause from a holistic perspective. The reactive healthcare system is expensive and not adequate for meeting the needs of all Canadians.
In contrast to reactive healthcare, a proactive healthcare system is designed to prevent illness before the onset of symptoms. Proactive care focuses on four key risk factors that commonly lead to disease, including unhealthy eating, alcohol consumption, tobacco use and physical inactivity. Proactive interventions or treatments help patients alter their behaviours and reduce the onset risk of disease. Occupational therapists working using a proactive care model can address functional decline before a patient's health escalates in severity.