Last week the Canadian Institute for Health Information released new data for its Canadian Hospital Reporting Project (CHRP) which collects information on 27 indicators — 21 clinical and 6 financial — for 600 hospitals across the country.
The Saskatchewan results were not glowing.
Of the 27 indicators, Saskatchewan was worse than the Canadian average on 11 of them. For example, when it comes to 30-day in-hospital mortality following a heart attack, Saskatchewan has gone from the best in 2010-11 to the second worst among the nine provinces for 2011-12. We also have the highest rate of readmissions to hospitals 90 days after a knee replacement. You get the picture.
Of course we need to be cautious and careful when interpreting year to year comparisons like these. It’s not always clear whether a change is real (statistically speaking) or simply a result of random chance. When it comes to assessing health system performance, it’s more useful to monitor metrics over time. This way, you know whether the latest results fall outside the variation that previous time periods have shown to be normal.
Data interpretation and analysis aside, I was shocked that there was nary a “what the…?” reaction from our local media — and by extension the public. When a colleague contacted CIHI to confirm whether they had issued a news release about the latest results, he learned the agency has moved to a softer, quieter form of announcement. Reporters across the country receive an email notifying them updated data is available on the Institute’s website. And CIHI posts an announcement on the media page of its site.
So, no formal report. And no news release. Apparently this is the second year they have used this model.
And how was the uptake?
We received very limited interest and only had a handful of interview requests. (Angela Baker, media relations specialist, CIHI)
Is CIHI’s “kinder, gentler” strategy the reason reporters tuned out? Or has mainstream media tired of covering the same “health care could be better” stories year after year. Either way, if the media’s not paying attention, then whose job IS it to bring this stuff to light, to hold our health system’s feet to the fire?
Why aren’t we (the broader “we”) talking about how our health care system is performing (or not)? And how do we build curiosity amongst the public around the quality of health care and ultimately use that energy to help drive our transformation efforts?