British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario use different approaches to get overall "A" grades in health

EDMONTON, May 23, 2013 /CNW/ - British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario have followed distinct paths to earn "A" grades in overall health performance, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Paving the Road to Higher Performance: Benchmarking Provincial Health Systems.

British Columbia earns an overall "A" grade on the strength of having the healthiest population in Canada. Ontario gets strong results in the performance of its health care system despite - on a per person basis - allocating fewer resources than other provinces. Alberta gets an "A" grade in part due to significant spending on health care - almost $1,000 per capita more than either B.C. or Ontario.

"No province achieves high grades in all of the categories assessed, such as the health status of provincial populations and performance of health systems," said Gabriela Prada, Director, Health Innovation, Policy and Evaluation.

"Our analysis is not meant to 'shame and blame' provinces that do relatively poorly on any given indicator," said Prada. "Our intention is to identify performance achievements and gaps so that all provinces are better equipped to make decisions that will improve health care systems and population health."

  • Knowing how health systems perform now, is the first step to improving future results.
  • Spending more dollars on health care does not necessarily lead to better performance - it is how money is spent, not how much, that will produce better health outcomes.
  • Provinces whose populations rank well in lifestyle factors - such as low rates of smoking, obesity, and heavy drinking, and high levels of physical activity - also do better in the overall health status of their populations.

Although Nova Scotia and New Brunswick achieve overall "B" grades, they get high marks on the performance of their health care systems. Quebec also gets a "B" grade overall - it has more health care resources per capita than the majority of the provinces, although it gets lower grades on the performance of its system.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador get "D" overall grades.

The overall findings were revealed at The Conference Board of Canada's Western Summit on Sustainable Health in Edmonton. The analysis was produced for the Conference Board's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care. In all, 90 indicators were assessed in the categories of Lifestyle Factors (five), Health Status (30), Health Resources (eight), and Health Care System Performance (47), leading to an overall grade.

From this comprehensive analysis, some general conclusions can be identified:

  • Provinces that rank higher in Lifestyle Factors also perform better in overall Health Status - this highlights the importance of health promotion and disease prevention programs to control demand for health care services.
  • Provinces with a higher percentage of their population living in rural areas are more likely to have more health resources per capita. They are also more likely to rank poorly on Lifestyle Factors and Health Status.
  • Good performance can be achieved at various levels of spending - Alberta and B.C. both achieve overall "A" grades, but B.C. spends about $3,700 per person while Alberta spends about $4,600 on health care services.
  • Provinces with a higher proportion of Aboriginal people in the overall population (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) achieve poor rankings in Lifestyle Factors, and score at the bottom in Health Status.

The Conference Board of Canada benchmarks performance using an A-B-C-D report card ranking methodology. Grade levels are assigned to the indicators using the following method:

  • For each indicator, the difference between the top and bottom performer is calculated and this figure is divided by 4.
  • A province receives a report card rating of "A" on a given indicator if its score is in the top quartile, a "B" if its score is in the second quartile, a "C" if its score is in the third quartile, and a "D" if its score is in the bottom quartile.
  • This methodology helps to ensure that those regions awarded an "A" on a given indicator perform substantially better than the range of performances among the other regions.

Launched in 2011, the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care is a five-year Conference Board program of research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada's health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system more sustainable.

SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada

For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext.  448


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