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Not Measuring Up

We’re sorry.

We made a mistake.

We commit to doing better in the future.

Nobody wants to start a conversation this way.

But we feel it is the only appropriate way to begin this post about Health Quality Ontario’s recent Measuring Up yearly report on how the health system is performing. As Health Quality Ontario is an organization for whom quality improvement is paramount, we are well aware that it is important and productive to discuss our failures as well as our successes.

Many people who read through Measuring Up 2016 immediately noticed the lack of ethnic diversity among the people whose photographs and stories we featured.

In most ways, Measuring Up is an excellent report summarizing both how the health system is performing, and the current health of those living in Ontario. We received extensive news coverage and the report has been referenced in many contexts.

In addition to a number of useful statistics about the general health of the system, the report features a number of Ontario residents and their stories: Stories about people such as Mary and Brian and the challenges they face to pay for the prescription medications they need to control their medical conditions.

These stories put a human face to health care in our province and in many cases are inspirational. They help us understand the people behind the numbers, including patients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers.

But on this occasion, in telling these stories, we got one thing very wrong.

For an organization such as Health Quality Ontario, with its commitment to involving all patients in building a better healthcare system and an organization that believes equity is a key dimension of quality, the lack of ethnic diversity in the report was simply not acceptable.

I must stress this an aberration for us and the publications Health Quality Ontario produces.

Looking across all of the many reports and videos we produce, we feature a wide range of people from Ontario and an ethnic diversity which better reflects the population of this province.

The reason for the lack of diversity in the current Measuring Up report is attributable to a mistake in the preparation of this report. At the outset, we did not proactively work to seek out a series of patient stories reflecting a diversity of backgrounds and when we interviewed by telephone the people whose stories we told, we did not proactively ask questions about their ethnicity or race. While we knew we had some diversity across other dimensions like income and geography, we only realized the lack of ethnic diversity in this report at the end, when the stories were completed

We are already implementing solutions to ensure the material we produce reflects the diversity of this province’s population. Doing this is an essential step Health Quality Ontario must take to retain credibility in the work it does and to play a part of improving equitable health care. We would also not want to detract from the many people who did share their valuable stories with us, over many, many hours of collaboration.

Again we apologize and appreciate the time people took to raise this issue when the report was released. We are committed to doing better next time.

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