Toronto, ON, Canada: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, ON, Canada
Recent investments by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) engaged Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and other health and community support organizations to deliver innovative, community-based care with the dual goals of enabling seniors to live safely in their own homes and alleviating related pressures on more costly care settings, such as acute care hospitals and long-term care homes.
Increasingly, ICES is being asked to conduct research directed at decision support. Agencies such as the LHINs, the MOHLTC, Community Care Access Centres and the Ontario Health Quality Council have needs that can be met only with sophisticated analyses that rely on linked, population-based health databases. These analyses enable them to quickly assess the effectiveness of new programs and policies. Aging in Ontario: An ICES Chartbook of Health Service Use by Older Adults is an important example of this type of work. Specifically, by examining and analyzing its collection of linked, province-wide health system data, ICES is able to describe patterns of care for seniors over time and across LHINs. This provincial-level view is vital to providing insight and an overall picture of the outcomes being achieved for Ontario seniors, as well as the adaptability of the health system to meet the needs of our aging population.
This Chartbook allows for visual comparisons of health system data analyzed over time and geographically by LHIN, as well as a comparison of several population characteristics including age, sex, income quintile, immigration status and frailty. The Chartbook reports on a set of key indicators vital to older adults, including emergency department visits, use of alternate level of care beds in hospitals, waiting times for long-term care home placement and home care services and self-perceived unmet home services care needs.
It will take some time to be able to measure the full impact of the expanded investment on the Ontario health system because new initiatives and infrastructure are in the process of being implemented and effecting change. As a contributing step toward province-wide evaluation, the Chartbook serves the following two purposes:
• It provides historical baseline data prior to (and during) the expansion of services to support aging populations. This is essential information against which to compare any progress detected in future years and to assess the contribution in improving the sustainability of the health system as a whole.
• It reports on health system performance in a standardized way to allow for cross-provincial and inter-LHIN comparisons.
This will ensure that future reports will use the same definitions, allowing for transparency and continuity over time. Through the Chartbook’s Technical Report, the “mechanics” behind the reporting are clear and can be adopted, adapted and shared with other organizations.
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