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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Year in review – Health Council’s Annual Report

We’ve just posted our Annual Report – and it’s been a big year for us at the Health Council!

We released five significant reports:
Health Council of Canada Annual Report

We held a national symposium on patient engagement, an emerging theme in Canadian health care, which yielded our own commentary report (as mentioned above).

We welcomed the province of Alberta to the Council, recognizing the tremendous impact this new voice will bring to the quality and fullness of our reporting on progress in health care renewal across Canada.

We redesigned our website, making it more searchable and interactive, allowing visitors to quickly find the information they need.

We received 154 entries in our third annual Health Innovation Challenge from 223 students at 19 universities and colleges in 9 provinces.

We are so glad that you’ve decided to follow our activities and reporting through our blog, and we hope you will continue to visit for updates on health care renewal in Canada.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sign up for our revamped newsletter

Today we launched our new-and-improved e-newsletter and we wanted to let you know about a few changes. Our e-newsletter is now monthly – we’ve increased our frequency so you can stay up to date on the latest Health Council news.

The new e-newsletter will feature 6 new sections:

  1. Top Story: This will generally be Health Council news – our most recent report, a conference that we hosted, contests we are running etc.
  2. Health Innovation: Here we will feature an innovative practice in health care. You can find out what’s working, how it’s working and how you can apply it to your work.
  3. In the News: This section will feature a selection of top stories from media sources across the country. 
  4. Go figure: This section will help you make sense of all the health care statistics out there – each month we’ll feature a new chart / figure / image and explain its significance.
  5. Where in the world: Here you’ll find the latest health news from around the world, from ground-breaking studies to the newest trends in health care. 
  6. A look ahead: This will outline what is upcoming for the Health Council and our staff – speaking engagements, upcoming reports etc.

Sign up now to get these monthly updates and stay in the loop!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Waste in the health care system

This week, a report from the Institute of Medicine showed that $750 billion of the $2.6 trillion a year that Americans spend on health care is wasted. This includes unnecessary, unplanned and unforeseen costs like excessive administration, inefficient delivery of care, fraud, and prevention failures.

It also includes a whopping $210 billion on unnecessary care, meaning over treating, prescribing or testing health care users.  André Picard noted that we cannot pretend this analysis does not also reflect the situation in Canada.

In 2010, we reported on the inappropriate use of diagnostic imaging and over prescribing. Our report showed that over the past 10 years, the number of prescriptions filled at community pharmacies has almost doubled – from 272 million in 1999 to 483 million in 2009. In terms of diagnostic imaging, compared to 2003, there has been a 58% increase in CT scans and 100% increase in the number of MRIs conducted. Of these tests, according to the Canadian Association of Radiologists, as many as 30% are inappropriate or contribute no useful information.

We need to leave the more-is-better attitude behind and innovate to improve our system.

Monday, September 10, 2012

4th Annual Health Innovation Challenge launched today

The 4th annual Health Innovation Challenge launched today, and we're challenging students across the country to find innovative practices in Canadian health care, and show us how they are working. We are asking students to seek out practices, programs, policies or services that inspire them, and that they think might inspire the future of health care in Canada, and share them in an essay format.

We’re offering cash prizes for top entries, as well as the opportunity to intern at the Health Council of Canada and have your work published on our website.

Here's the challenge - prepare a written submission of up to 2,500 words (plus an abstract) answering this question:
What new innovations in health care are having a positive impact in Canada? Identify and describe an innovative practice that is improving health outcomes, and tell us why it is working. 

Submissions will be accepted from individuals or teams of maximum three students registered at a Canadian college or university (all levels of students are eligible, from undergraduate to PHD).

Need inspiration? Check out last year's winners here. In the next few weeks, we'll be posting blogs from two winners who are currently interning at the Health Council as part of their prize.

For more information and to download the full guidelines, visit Still have questions? Visit us on facebook at and post your question there, or email us at

Good luck, we can't wait to see what you come up with this year!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Give students a healthy start this year

As students head back to school this week, there is no better time to think about health. A new year leaves parents with a lot to think about – nutrition, exercise, environmental stresses, new routines etc.

Health Canada has come up with an online resource that might help guide some of your decisions around back-to-school health. They cover topics like allergies in school lunches, active and safe routes to school, sun awareness for recess playtimes, and physical activity guides.

Check out all the materials here and get ready for an exciting new school year!