April 6, 2010
MONCTON (NBHC) – The New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) is continuing its work toward informing people about their health system with the New Brunswick Health System Report Card. Just as student report cards provide parents with information on their performance, the NBHC has developed a report card of some important information about the quality of health services being delivered in the province.
“The main purpose of the Report Card is to provide New Brunswickers with a tool that will be easy to use for communicating and flagging key areas of focus as it relates to the quality of the health services being delivered,” says NBHC CEO Stéphane Robichaud.Furthermore, yearly report cards will allow organizations to track changes over time.
“The tool can be used by managers and decision-makers in the health system,” says Robichaud, “It has the potential of allowing these organizations to identify areas of concern and then drill down to their program level indicators where they may affect positive change.”
Overall the Report Card tells us that New Brunswick performs “in the middle of the road” on health services quality compared to the other provinces and territories in Canada. It is important to note that within these performance grades it can be identified that some programs and services are performing very well while others are not. This can provide New Brunswickers with an opportunity for improvement based on best practices.
A point worth highlighting is each dimension of quality is made up of a series of individual measures that reflect the programs and services offered in the province. There are two of these dimensions of quality that have the greatest variation in the performance of individual indicators. That is, there are some indicators where New Brunswick is performing extremely well (As) nationally and not performing as well (Fs). The first dimension is Effectiveness, which is briefly defined as doing what is required to achieve the best possible results. The second dimension is Efficiency, which is briefly defined as making the best use of resources.
In terms of the Accessibility dimension of quality, New Brunswick performs better than average on immediate or urgent care needs but lags behind on some wait times.
The performance index grade result on the primary health sector of care showed that it was one of the sectors where the majority of the indicators were either only performing at par with the national average or not performing as well. This helps identify that New Brunswick is not performing as well in areas such as:
- access to primary care for prevention or treatment of minor health problems;
- in prevention, like screening tests based on age related diseases; and
- in the use of recommended clinical practice guidelines to maximize the achievement of obtaining best possible health results.
If areas represented by some of these indicators are not in balance, coordinated or integrated, the result can be unnecessary hospitalizations for conditions that would be best treated in the community. High-quality ambulatory care, including preventive and disease management services can assist in producing better health outcomes. It is important to keep in mind that hospitalization rates can also be influenced by other factors, such as high poverty rates or poor health behaviours for example.
The NBHC has been established as an objective organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health system performance through a citizen-centered dual mandate of performance measurement and citizen engagement.