The Ontario Health Quality Council's report is based on the attributes of a high performing health system - Ontarians want their health system to be safe, effective, patient-centred, accessible, efficient, equitable, integrated, appropriately resourced and focused on population health - and indicators by which these attributes could be measured.
"Ontario's health system is performing well in a number of areas", stated Ray Hession, Council Chair. Survival rates for patients with cancer or heart attack are steadily increasing, surveys show a large majority of Ontarians believe our health system provides good or excellent care, and Ontario hospitals have shorter acute-care stays, use more day surgery and have lower costs per case than hospitals in most other provinces. There are promising initiatives underway in a number of areas; however, it is too early to evaluate them.
Ray Hession continued: "But in some respects, the system needs more work. We have found that inadequate information is limiting our ability to continuously improve quality, monitor performance and report on it." He noted the Council believes investing in e-health - using information technology to manage health, arrange, deliver and account for care, and manage the health-care system - will do the most to improve each of the attributes of a high-performing health system.
"We concluded that the key enabler for health system improvements is e-health", stated Ray Hession. "The implementation of e-health in Ontario requires a clear plan, appropriate governance and requisite funding."
"I want to thank the Ontario Health Quality Council for this thoughtful and extremely useful first report", stated Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman. "In order for Ontarians to be able to take part in a conversation about their health care, they need to know what's going on in health care. By pointing out those areas in which the system is performing well, and also those areas in which more work is required, the Ontario Health Quality Council is letting Ontarians in on the conversation."
The Ontario Health Quality Council is an independent agency funded by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The Council reports directly to Ontarians on access to publicly funded health services, health human resources in publicly funded health services, consumer and population health status, and health system outcomes.
The other report, prepared by Ottawa-based BMB Consulting Services, states that progress has been achieved across Canada that "would not have been achieved without Infoway". The report's purpose was to evaluate Infoway's progress in line with its mission to accelerate the development of the electronic health record across Canada. Electronic health records, which help health care professionals make more informed decisions, are seen as a pillar of health care transformation.
"The report is independent confirmation that Infoway is making real progress in achieving its mandate and in providing value to Canadians", stated Arnold Steinberg, Infoway's Board Chair. The evaluation credits the organisation with the following achievements:
- Demonstrating that there is a technical blueprint for pan-Canadian solutions and then focusing on the business and people aspects of technology through investments in change management and communications;
- Developing a portfolio management approach through investment strategies and programmes, rather than focusing on individual projects;
- Building stronger relationships and collaboration with jurisdictions through mechanisms such as three-year jurisdictional plans and the CIO Forum - quarterly meetings with provincial Chief Information Officers;
- Engaging other stakeholders such as vendors and health care professionals' associations more directly and pro-actively;
- Placing priority on investment in benefits measurement and adoption of technology by health care professionals; and
- Streamlining business processes.