Monday, March 25, 2013

Leaders discuss how to improve Canada's health care system

The Health Council releases newest report on quality improvement in Canada

TORONTO, March 25, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Health Council of Canada's newest report on quality improvement, Which way to quality? Key perspectives on quality improvement in Canadian health care systems, calls for the establishment of common and measureable goals to achieve quality improvement in Canada's health care systems.

While many Canadians believe we have one of the best health care systems in the world, recent international rankings for health care quality place Canada in the middle or at the bottom of the pack.

Why are Canada's provincial and territorial health systems not performing as they should? What are governments and others doing about it? The Health Council's report shares insights from senior health care leaders across the country on system-wide approaches to quality improvement, what it takes for them to succeed, and the challenges to gaining more traction. We heard that any successful approach to quality improvement requires strong and committed government leadership, and a series of performance measures and targets that are reported publicly in order to be truly accountable to Canadians. We also heard about the challenges leaders face when implementing quality improvement initiatives, including a lack of data to measure impact and limited clinical leadership.

"Good health care is not only about the interactions between doctors and patients. The system needs to be structured in a way that supports better care, and to do this we need strong leadership from the top and the engagement of the front-line providers," says John G. Abbott, CEO of the Health Council of Canada.

The Health Council finds that although each jurisdiction has its own set of challenges when it comes to quality improvement, governments could learn more about one another's successes and adapt them. To encourage the sharing and uptake of innovative practices in quality improvement across Canada, the report highlights improvement practices and approaches from select provinces. One example of these is the Health Quality Council's support of the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative (SSI) by measuring and reporting on surgical wait times, and sponsoring a surgical working group to probe and eliminate surgical variation. The Saskatchewan government's use of a Lean Management System across its health care system also supports the success of the SSI.

"Currently, quality improvement approaches vary across Canada. There are different provincial quality agencies with different mandates, each with a unique range of responsibilities and focus," says Dr. Dennis Kendel, Councillor with the Health Council of Canada. "Each government has its own focus. We need more collaboration among agencies and governments, to share their innovative practices, and contribute to common goal setting."

About the Health Council of Canada

Created by the 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal, the Health Council of Canada is an independent national agency that reports on the progress of health care renewal. The Council provides a system-wide perspective on health care reform in Canada, and disseminates information on innovative practices across the country. The Councillors are appointed by the participating provincial and territorial governments and the Government of Canada.