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Monday, January 31, 2011

Improve your health literacy with the Health Council of Canada’s new Citizen’s Guide to Health Indicators

John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada

Canadians encounter more and more decisions about their health and health care system every day. Which long term care facility will be best for my aging parent? How do I know if my child is considered overweight?  It is essential that citizens are provided with the facts to make informed decisions and better understand the decisions that governments and health care providers make about our system.

Health indicators are the high-quality statistics that make up these essential facts. These statistics allow us to measure and compare important factors that are influencing our health. Our new Citizen’s Guide to Health Indicators is a useful resource for interested citizens wanting to understand the origins of health indicators, as well as their purpose and sometimes their pitfalls.

While indicators are very useful for those in the health care field, they are also particularly important for consumers of health care. The Toronto Health Policy Citizens’ Council advocated for mandatory reporting from Ontario hospitals on issues like patient experience, wait times and emergency rooms. They suggest this information be available in one central location so that patients can make informed decisions about where to go for care.

For example, in the future, as this particular indicator develops, a care-giver with an aging parent will be able to use health indicators to advise their parent which long-term care facility best suits their parent’s needs. They will be able to look at an indicator like falls, which details the percentage of residents who have had a fall in the last 30 days. Or they will be able to consider the percentage of residents with bed sores. Each of these indicators will help the care-giver compare long term facilities for their parent and go beyond just observational visits to make a more informed decision.

We’ve created this guide to make it easier for care-givers, patients, interested citizens, board members and others involved in the health care system to better understand the facts they are receiving about health care. As we rely on indicators to show us how our system is performing, understanding the limitations is important for all parties involved.
For more information, the download the guide  or see what our guest bloggers are saying.

Key Words: Health Indicators, Health Promotion

1 comment:

  1. Health care is complicated. For example it is not always easy to understand how to take a medication or get the best affordable health insurance. Health literacy is about understanding written instructions or information. It is also much more than that. It is getting the best information, understanding it, and being able to act on it.

    If one does not understand any part of the health care system, it can harm your health. For example, if you do not know how to take your medicine correctly, you may not get well. If you do not know how to get good health insurance, you may put off getting the help you need.