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Monday, June 4, 2012

Comparable Indicators – a focus for conversation on better health care

Hugh B. MacLeod is CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. His interests lie in the areas of system/integrative thinking, sustainability, and organizational cultures that create high performance.

Redesigning a healthcare system with its complex organic properties, powerful interest groups, and its political game is much more challenging than the transformation of the auto sector, housing sector and the financial sector combined. Add to this a landscape of multiple players promoting numerous indicators which compete and confuse the system, rather than help us to learn and improve.

The recent global financial meltdown has raised new conversations in corporate board rooms about return on investments, outcomes not outputs, consumerism, ethics, codes of conduct, public transparency, baseline measurements, quality improvement, risk management, third party validation, rewards and consequences, etc.

The focus in healthcare should be on common areas of real value creation, such as: transparency, reduction of variation, greater coordination across the continuum of care, use of evidence, and obligations of citizens themselves not to abuse the system.. Public reporting with a focused set of comparable indicators will raise necessary conversations and important questions.  Are we using our money wisely?  What are the health outcomes for the investments?  Why do we have such a variance in care, spending and outcomes performance by province, by geographic area? Policy-makers and funders need to ensure the assumptions underlying their long-term healthcare plans reflect both the real economics of the market and the healthcare performance outcomes of the provider organizations.

Canadians deserve a responsive and responsible health system – that is, a healthcare system that evaluates progress; measures quality, performance or the patient experience; and shares learning.

It is important to acknowledge the role that partnerships of many national and jurisdictional organizations play in the quest for a safer healthcare system. Accreditation Canada, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, provincial health quality councils, the Health Council of Canada and others are dedicated to helping organizations and peers improve the safety of healthcare.  Such partnerships foster a coordinated effort that minimizes duplication and promotes the very best in patient safety.

Through collaborative relationships, the implementation of key initiatives is enhanced, ensuring that patients see results sooner rather than later. 

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