Which province best serves the Canadian healthcare consumer?
It is a pleasure to present the inaugural Canada Health Consumer Index (CHCI), which for the first time will allow Canadians to assess the consumer responsiveness of their province’s healthcare system against the rest of the country. This consumer-oriented approach uses well-proven benchmarking and evaluation methodology from the Health Consumer Powerhouse, Europe’s leading independent provider of consumer information, whose work has triggered much discussion, analysis and, ultimately, improvement in healthcare systems in Europe.
The first Euro-Canada Health Care Index, launched in January 2008, brought Canada into a comparison of 30 European countries. This groundbreaking benchmark showed that Canadians rely upon a system that is sclerotic, inefficient and remarkably stingy when it comes to providing excellent, timely care. Such an assessment provokes debate and provides policy makers with insights they can use to initiate reforms. Not all provinces perform on an identical basis. Therefore, to empower care consumers to take action one needs to be more specific.
The CHCI breaks down Canada’s overall performance using the methodology of the broader international study and examines healthcare from the perspective of the consumer at the provincial level. Now, Canadian policy makers, analysts, journalists and consumers can benefit from just such a comparison.
Canadians consistently say healthcare is a pressing concern. Wait times for all levels of care, access in terms of affordability, and outcomes are all problematic. A thriving healthcare system can only exist in a culture that values the rights and autonomy of the consumer. Both safety and clinical outcomes often rest upon factors that can cost more in the short term but save time, money and, most importantly, suffering in the longer term. Preventative medicine and screening are prime examples of this.
The indicators for this Index were selected to reflect all of these concerns.
Our hope is that the provinces will learn from the mistakes of their neighbours without replicating them. There are also good examples to be found that should be adapted as made-in-Canada solutions by as many provinces as possible.
Ultimately, the Index not only highlights problems in each province, but it also shows what is possible. This is exactly what it is all about: supporting consumers so they can make informed decisions and providing policy makers with a new tool for improvement. Though the Index sometimes reveals unpleasant, even shocking, data, it will improve transparency in the provinces. Such openness and clarity is beneficial for everyone.
President, Frontier Centre for Public Policy
President, Health Consumer Powerhouse
Click on the following links to view each section of the Canada Health Consumer Index 2008(in PDF format)