Grading Health Care
Future health care decisions will rely on getting the answers to some pressing questions. What impact have new therapies had on patient survival rates? How have changes in staffing and hospital restructuring affected patient care?
Researchers are now analyzing comprehensive medical databases in order to provide answers to these important questions. In fact, the information in these databases may have a significant impact on future health care decisions in Canada.
Consider cardiovascular disease. It's the leading cause of death in Canada. As a result, it's an excellent subject for medical statisticians to study as a test case for the entire health care system. In other words, how well the system performs in caring for cardiac patients gives us an idea of how the system as a whole is functioning.
Dr. Jack Tu is responsible for several of Canada's largest, most comprehensive studies of cardiac patient care. An internationally published researcher, he's considered a rising star in the field of health services research. His latest and largest accounting of the quality of cardiac care will draw from sources across Canada. Its mandate is to put together a broad statistical picture of a number of cardiac-related conditions, and to ask significant questions along the way.
Care of Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) or "Heart Attack"
In order to determine the impact of care by specialized physicians, this study will compare mortality rates for AMI patients under different types of care. Current statistics indicate that patients under the care of a cardiologist have the lowest rate of mortality (11.5%), while those treated by a family physician have the highest (16%). What factors contribute to this discrepancy?
Treatment of Heart Failure and Hypertension (high blood pressure)
A look at treatment trends in Ontario during the 1990s. Have new treatment guidelines led to doctors prescribing the most effective new drugs? And what has been the overall impact on the health of these patients?
Outcomes of Hospital Restructuring
The study will compare 30- and 90-day survival rates of both cardiac and non-cardiac patients in Canada, the United States and England. It will look at "failure-to-rescue" rates and hospital readmission rates. Comparing historical data with current statistics will reveal a good deal about the impact of staffing changes and hospital restructuring.
These research projects involve many other areas of study.
An international component of the program will compare Canada's performance in cardiac health care to that in other countries around the world. The overall goal is to give Canada's health care policy makers and planners a firm statistical basis for making future decisions to improve patient care.