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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Health Council CEO, John G. Abbott, presents at the 2011 Primary Health Care Research Conference in Brisbane, Australia

The Primary Health Care Research Conference is a major event in Australian general practice and primary health care research. This year’s conference theme was Inspirations, Collaborations, Solutions. 

Our CEO, John G. Abbott, presented at the conference on our report, How do Canadians Rate the Health Care System? from November, 2010. The report comments on the 2010 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey results, which compares the perceptions of about 20,000 citizens from 11 OECD countries on their health care systems. Mr. Abbott discussed comparisons between Canada and Australia, and highlighted some high performing countries. You can download the full conference presentation here.

A few others have been blogging about the conference, including the Australian Croakey Blog, who reflected on how primary health care can harness the “digital revolution” as well as social media’s role within primary health care.
You can also check out the conference facebook page, or search #phcris on twitter to see what other delegates are saying about the conference.

Next year’s conference will be in July 2012 in Canberra. Sign up here to be kept in the loop for more details on the 2012 conference.

Carolyn Young, Communications Coordinator, Media Relations, Health Council of Canada

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2010 National Physician Survey: Complexity of care

The 2010 National Physician Survey, an ongoing research project gathering opinions of Canadian doctors, medical residents and students, was released last week.

The survey indicates that access to care is a key issue. The greatest factor doctors identified as the cause of increasing demands for their time was complexity of patient caseload (72% said it was an issue). Physicians are being asked to do more and more as health care in Canada changes.

Caring for aging patients with many chronic conditions is becoming a large part of physicians’ workload. In addition, family doctors now play a larger role in the use of diagnostic imaging (like MRI and CT scans) and are gatekeepers to prescription drugs.

As a result of this complex environment, the number of prescriptions written and the number of diagnostic tests ordered by family doctors are increasing. Research shows that drugs and diagnostic imaging have been inappropriately used and overused in Canada.

Understanding what influences doctors’ decisions is important to ensure resources are used appropriately. Family doctors are providing care in a challenging environment, and require better access to decision-support tools, including electronic medical-record systems. It’s also important to encourage doctors to follow clinical practice guidelines to help reduce inappropriate prescribing and use of resources.

This phase of the survey included data from physicians – the data related to med students and residents will be released in September and specialty-specific breakdowns in November. Join the NPS mailing list to get this info as soon as it is released.

Carolyn Young, Communications Coordinator, Media Relations, Health Council of Canada

Key Words: Primary Health Care, Access and Wait Times

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Strategic plan for health care during provincial election season

This fall, as Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories head to the polls for provincial elections, health care will undoubtedly be an important election issue across the board.

The Ontario Hospital Association and Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres jointly published a report in June to set the stage for health care dialogue leading up to Ontario’s election on October 6. 

The report,  Four Pillars: Recommendations for Achieving a High Performing Health System”, proposes a “dramatic health system reform” for Ontario based on four pillars:
1) Setting ambitious goals
2) Proper planning
3) Using evidence to drive care decisions
4) Connecting care
These four pillars are very similar to strategic plans, which consist of setting goals, establishing objectives and performance targets, evaluating performance against targets, and acting on the results of performance evaluation. 

The report acknowledges that although Ontario has set some goals for addressing provincial priorities (notably wait times in emergency departments and access to primary care), the missing piece is quantifiable performance targets. The report goes on to propose that the government develop a comprehensive health system strategic plan that includes objectives, timelines, change management exercises and quality and efficiency improvement measures to drive changes.  Suggestions hinging on the “Four Pillars” as to how this should be done are then provided.

This idea of setting strategic plans for health care is starting to take shape in some hospitals and provinces in Canada, and internationally some countries have established strategic plans for achieving national health goals through health system performance. This report is a timely piece on many fronts.

For further comment on the report, see OHA’s Tom Closson’s blog post.

Susan Brien, Policy Lead, Health Council of Canada

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Indicator Report Season

In the health performance measurement world, June is when the newest indicator reports are released. To kick off this “indicator report season”, we released our Progress Report 2011 on May 31.  Although the report does not officially report on health indicators, the report synthesizes other reports to provide a Pan-Canadian snapshot of the progress in health care renewal.

Here are some indicators reports out last month you may find interesting:

·        Health Quality Ontario released its annual indicator report, QMonitor, on June 2.  QMonitor reports on over 200 indicators of quality of care and population health at the provincial and Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) level.

·        The Canadian Institute for Health Information released its annual Health Indicators report on June 8.  Health Indicators 2011 reports on over 80 indicators and this year introduced 5 new indicators related to mental health.  Data in this report is reported at the health region, provincial/territorial and national level.

·        The Canadian Stroke Network released The Quality of Stroke Care in Canada 2011 report on June 16.  This report evaluates the quality of stroke care across Canada using data from the Canadian Stroke Registry.

·        The Wait Time Alliance released its report Time Out! Report Card on Wait Times in Canada on June 20.  The report card grades provinces on their progress in reducing wait times in the 5 priority areas set out in 2004, going beyond these 5 priority areas, availability of wait time information on their websites and the impact of alternate levels of care on wait times.

·        Statistics Canada released the latest results from the Canadian Community Health Survey on June 21.  This national, cross sectional survey collects health-related information (as reported by Canadians) at the health region level.  The June 21, 2011 release contains data from the 2010 cycle of the survey.

·        The first phase of results from the 2010 National Physician’s Survey was released on June 27.  This survey polls physicians, medical residents and medical students and reports results on a provincial and pan-Canadian basis. The June 27 release contains information gathered from physicians from all disciplines, and survey results from medical residents and students will be released in fall of 2011.

·        The OECD released OECD Health Data 2011 on June 30.  This report compares Canada’s expenditures on health and other health-related resource use to 34 other participating countries.

If you know of other health indicator reports published recently that are relevant to health care performance and health outcomes in Canada, please share!

Susan Brien, Policy Lead, Health Council of Canada

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ontario Women’s Health Framework

Last week, Echo released the province’s first Ontario Women’s Health Framework. The framework provides steps to improve the way the province addresses women’s health, as men and women experience health in different ways.

Echo asked more than 300 women and stakeholders to provide input to shape the framework, giving a voice to a diverse group of women from across the country.

Download the framework
Of particular interest is the information about Aboriginal women’s specific health needs. Nearly half (48%) of Aboriginal women reported having two or more chronic conditions, and one quarter (24%) reported having unmet health care needs.

The framework highlights the need to develop policies to meet specific needs of Aboriginal women, as well as culturally appropriate services and programs.

Earlier this year, we held a series of regional meetings across Canada to learn about promising programs and strategies that are improving the health of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis expectant mothers and young children. Thanks to the wealth of information provided, we will be releasing a report on what we heard at these sessions and the promising practices that were identified.

Check back on August 9 to read the full report at

Carolyn Young, Communications Coordinator, Media Relations, Health Council of Canada

Key Words: Aboriginal Health, Health Promotion