Better access to data, province-wide electronic health record keys to providing Saskatchewan health system with information it needs to improve quality of patient care: Health Quality Council

    CALGARY, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - Limited access to timely data and the absence of
an electronic health record are restricting the ability of the Health Quality
Council, health care providers and system leaders to make health care better
in Saskatchewan. That is the key message in the commentary section of a new
report launched today by the Health Quality Council (HQC), the organization
mandated to measure and report on quality of care in this province.
    Over the past five years, HQC has reported on health care quality in
several topic areas, including post-heart attack care, asthma care, diabetes
care, drug management in seniors, patient experience in acute care, and on
wait times for breast cancer care. Today, the Council released the first
edition of its Quality Insight report, the flagship product of the agency's
new measurement and reporting program. The report presents updated information
on quality of care for many of the topics previously reported on by the
Council, for the five-year period from 2001/02 to 2005/06. In addition to the
printed report, which provides information on quality of health care for the
province overall, Quality Insight for the first time makes available publicly
on the HQC web site ( information on the performance of individual
health regions, and in some cases individual hospitals.
    The Health Quality Council's new report and related web content show
health care leaders and providers the current state of quality, where there is
still room for improvement, and identify leading practices that others can
learn from. A secondary function of the report is to give Saskatchewan
citizens some indication of how the health system is performing.
    Last year, the province invested $3.5 billion in the health system -
which amounts to over 40% of tax dollars. It is critical to know what this is
buying in terms of quality of care for patients, says HQC in the report's
commentary section, yet, the system's ability to thoroughly assess and
understand how safe, reliable, timely and effective health care is, at this
point, limited.
    Much of the information in this first edition of the Quality Insight
report is nearly three years old, reflecting a time before HQC and its health
system partners began tackling quality issues flagged in the Council's
original reports.
    HQC Chair Marlene Smadu says providers, managers, and leaders need
significantly more current information with which to identify priorities, make
informed decisions, and gauge the success of improvement efforts. "The Health
Quality Council wants to support the quality measurement and improvement work
already being done in health regions across the province by providing health
system stakeholders with current information on quality in formats that that
are most useful and meaningful to them," says Smadu. "We need more current
data and data at the level - be it facility, ward, or practice - where it can
help providers and managers with their improvement efforts," says Smadu. "An
Electronic Health Record would go a long way toward providing this kind of
information." Measurement and reporting on quality at these levels has been
going on for years now in other jurisdictions.
    The Health Quality Council will use the new Quality Insight report to
engage health regions, the Ministry of Health, and other stakeholders in
discussions about the kinds of information - and preferred formats for
receiving the information - that will be most useful for improving the quality
of care for Saskatchewan citizens.

For further information:

For further information: Sheila Ragush, Communications Consultant, (306)
668-8810, Cell: (306) 220-5075,

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