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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Measuring Up: Do Health Care Systems in Canada offer High Quality Health Care?

Do we offer high quality health care? Despite this being a common question in primary health care offices, hospitals, provincial and territorial ministries of health and at a national level by politicians and the media – it’s a complex one to answer. 

To accurately evaluate the quality of health care, appropriate health indicators must be used, and results should be compared to valid standards or other appropriate benchmarks.  However, in order to take action on the results, quality plans need to be in place with strategic objectives.

Work has started at many levels within the health care systems to answer the “quality question”. The result has been an explosion of quality reports and health indicators used to create these reports, to the point that in some provinces hospitals, health care providers and administrators are overwhelmed with the amount of data that needs to be gathered and reported.    

Despite all of this activity, we are no closer to answering the “quality question”, particularly at the pan-Canadian level. Hospital or regional level indicators may not necessarily relate to provincial or pan-Canadian level indicators, making it difficult to interpret results at multiple levels in the health care system. 

We are currently exploring the various health indicators that are being reported on by public agencies in Canada to determine what is being measured why, and how these measurements are being reported. We will aim to answer the “quality question” at different levels within Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial health care systems. Look for our findings in a report to be released later this year.

Susan Brien, Policy Lead, Health Council of Canada


  1. This is what I was really looking for. Thanks very much. Keep up this good work.

  2. Can the quality of the service provided be measured by the outcome of said service? Shouldn't it be?

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