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Measuring Up 2018: Complex Challenges

Anna Greenberg

Hospital overcrowding and hallway health care are realities facing today’s health care system in Ontario. The fact that they represent both a source and a symptom of the pressures that patients and frontline clinicians face underscores the complexity of the challenges to improve the situation.

This is one of the main messages to come from Measuring Up 2018, Health Quality Ontario’s yearly report on the performance of the province’s health system.

The report documents the cascading effects of hospital overcrowding such as longer wait times for admission to hospital from the emergency room; longer wait times to transfer out of hospital to other types of care – such as long-term care, home care; and insufficient access to mental health and addictions care. At a time when more and more patients have complex health needs, these stressors on the system are also contributing to rising levels of distress among unpaid caregivers.

Digital health: Transforming care and adding value

By Lee Fairclough

This week is Digital Health Week, a yearly acknowledgement of the transformative power of digital health technologies to support the delivery of health care.

That such a transformation is desired by patients and caregivers is not in doubt. Canada Health Infoway notes that 80% of patients want access to their own records and other digital health solutions. This enthusiasm was confirmed recently in a survey commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association which found:

  • Three-quarters of Canadians would like to see more technology as part of the health care system
  • 7 in 10 Canadians would take advantage of virtual physician visits and many believe that it would lead to more timely care, convenience and overall care.
  • Over half (56%) would likely wear a mobile device that monitored their health continuously.

Despite these figures, digital care has been relatively slow in coming to Ontario and the rest of Canada for a variety of reasons related to the challenges of putting the proper infrastructure in place, privacy and security concerns and some resistance from health care providers and patients.

Wait Times: A Metric to Watch

Dr. Joshua Tepper

Earlier this summer, Health Quality Ontario revamped its public reporting on wait times to make it more user-friendly. We also added reporting on the wait time between a specialist receiving the referral from the patient's family doctor, to the patient's first surgical or specialist appointment, to gain a fuller picture of the patient experience.

Since then, the data has been used on numerous occasions to document how well or badly one hospital is doing compared to the rest of the province. There have also been almost 100,000 page views of the wait times pages on the Health Quality Ontario website since their launch. Interest in the information remains strong and there were more than 13,000 page views of the nine wait times measures pages between mid-November and mid-December.

The Art and Science of Measurement in Healthcare

Dr. Joshua Tepper

(Join Health Quality Ontario CEO Dr. Joshua Tepper for a tweet chat to discuss this topic on Nov. 8, 1:30 pm ET)

At Health Quality Ontario we like to measure things. After all, data is the cornerstone of quality improvement. But are we measuring the right things? Are we measuring too much? How do we move from measurement to improvement? How do we involve professionals and patients in deciding what we measure? How does personal experience balance data?

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