I recently read a report published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) entitled, Learning from the Best: Benchmarking Canada’s Health System. To access the report, click here.
The report examines Canadians’ health status, non-medical determinants of health, quality of care and access to care. It is based on international results that appear in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Health Care at a Glance, 2011 (which can be accessed here), which provides the latest statistics and indicators for comparing health systems across 34 member countries.
Key highlights include:
Ø Key non-medical determinants of health - While Canada has lower smoking rates than most OECD countries, rates of obesity and overweight are among the highest. Canada is one of only three G7 countries (along with Italy and the U.S.) where the prevalence of overweight is above 25% for both groups.
Ø Cancer incidence, screening and survival - Canada performs relatively well in screening and survival rates for cancer. While five-year survival results were close to the OECD average for cervical cancer, they were above average for colorectal cancer and behind only the U.S. and Japan for breast cancer.
Ø Quality of care, patient safety - Canada is in, or close, to the top 25% of OECD countries on many measures of quality of care. For example, Canada has lower rates of hospital admissions for certain chronic conditions that can be managed by good primary care in the community. This includes the second-lowest rate among OECD countries—and the lowest rate among G7 countries—for asthma admissions and a better-than-OECD-average rate for admissions related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, national results for some patient safety measures did not compare as favourably: Canada had some of the highest rates among 17 reporting countries of accidental puncture or laceration, as well as of foreign bodies left in during surgical procedures. It also had among the highest rates of obstetrical trauma of 20 countries reporting.
Given the importance of health and the health system to Canadians, international comparisons are often an opportunity for decision-makers and health system providers in Canada to learn from the best and strive to be among the best among all areas of the health care system. I would encourage you all to read the report and its findings.