Authors of women's health report develop 10-point Health Equity Road Map
to move health equity forward
TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and
the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) released findings
of a six-year long women's health report they say provides government
and health system players with the evidence and tools they need to
drive reform to improve the health of women and men across Ontario.
The POWER Study (Project for an Ontario Women's Health Evidence-Based Report), examined access, quality, and outcomes of care across the
province using a comprehensive set of evidence-based indicators for the
leading causes of disease and disability in the province and how they
varied by sex, income, ethnicity and where one lives. Researchers are
also providing the government with indicators and a 10-point road map
(see attached) to reduce health inequities among men and women.
Evidence-based reform is a key component of the Ministry of Health and
Long-Term Care's (MOHLTC) new Action Plan for Health Care and a core
aim of the provincial government's Excellent Care for All act.
"The health-care needs of men and women are different, and among women,
health needs vary enormously depending on income, ethnicity and other
social factors," says Dr. Arlene Bierman, an ICES scientist and
principal investigator of the study. "We have more than enough evidence
to make health equity a priority and move forward. We need to reduce
health-inequities in our system to improve the quality of care we
provide. Our study provides a 10-point health equity road map that will
help move Ontario in the right direction," adds Dr. Bierman, also a
physician at St. Michael's Hospital.
The POWER Study consistently found large and modifiable health
inequities on multiple measures. These inequities place a large burden
on individuals, their families and the health system. Investigators
estimated that if all Ontarians had the same health as Ontarians with
318,000 fewer people would be in fair or poor health
231,000 fewer people would be disabled
3,373 fewer deaths would occur each year among Ontarians living in
Further, if people from all income groups had the same hospital
admissions rates as those from the highest-income group for four
conditions alone (heart failure, diabetes, COPD, and asthma) there
would have been 15,709 (30%) fewer hospitalizations for these
conditions contributing to health system sustainability.
"This research provides critical information on inequities which will
support achievement of goals around reducing the burden of chronic
diseases," says Dr. Bierman. "We now have a Road Map to help ensure
that the needs of diverse communities are considered explicitly as
providers, policymakers, and citizens work together to implement needed
"I want to thank Echo, St. Michael's hospital and ICES for the
substantive work accomplished through the Power Study and for bringing
to light ways in which health system stakeholders can address the
unique health needs of Ontario women. Our government is committed to
reducing health inequities," says Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and
Long-Term Care. "This landmark study confirms the importance of
considering the unique health implications for women in all the health
research we undertake."
The POWER Study was funded by Echo: Improving Women's Health in Ontario,
an agency of the MOHLTC. The POWER Study has garnered international
attention by developing a model for routinely incorporating health
equity into health systems performance measurement. The POWER Study
website has had visitors from 132 countries/territories, 49 of the 50
US states, and 675 cities across Canada.
"To ensure excellent care for all, it is important to recognize women's
perspectives and address differences when implementing plans to
increase the quality and value of Ontario's health and social support
systems," says Pat Campbell, CEO, Echo: Improving Women's Health in
Ontario. "The POWER Study provides the evidence, identifying health
care disparities and establishes a baseline for measuring improvement."
For more information on the POWER Study and its partners, visit www.powerstudy.ca.
POWER Health Equity Road Map:
Equity, a major attribute of high performing health systems and
important dimension of health-care quality, is key to health system
Health equity cannot be achieved without moving upstream and addressing
the root causes of disease in the social determinants of health. A
multifaceted approach is required to tackle the many complex problems
which contribute to greater chronic disease prevalence and poorer
health outcomes in some groups.
Prioritize chronic disease prevention and management to improve overall
population health and reduce health inequities. Because chronic
diseases and their risk factors contribute greatly to health
inequities, the implementation of a comprehensive and coordinated
chronic disease prevention and management strategy—one that addresses
the need of at-risk populations—is the key to improving population
health and achieving health equity.
Focus on patient-centeredness to improve access and satisfaction with
care for all.
Province-wide, integrated, organized models of care delivery can improve
health outcomes and reduce inequities in care. We found few inequities
in the delivery of acute cancer and stroke care, areas where organized,
integrated, and coordinate strategies for guideline implementation,
quality improvement using performance measurement and feedback with
validated quality indicators have been implemented.
Coordinate population health, community and clinical responses. There
are many important ongoing activities aimed at improving health in the
province including: targeting population-based health promotion,
enhancing the quality and capacity of community-based services, and
improving the quality of care delivered in clinical settings. Efforts
to integrate and coordinate these efforts could produce synergies to
accelerate progress in improving health and reducing health inequities
Link community and health services. Both health services and community
services are vital for maintaining health. Improving linkages between
these sectors can help assure that people can readily access needed
care and services to promote, maintain, and improve health.
Routinely include gender and equity analysis in health indicator
Develop strategies for effective implementation by creating learning
networks and designing innovations for scale up and spread.
Create a culture of innovation and learning while building the evidence
base for accelerated improvement through rigorous evaluation and
SOURCE Echo: Improving Women's Health in Ontario
For further information:
Deborah Creatura, ICES
Julie Saccone, St. Michael's Hospital