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Alberta launches performance measurement tools

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services has announced a new “dashboard” of measurements designed to gauge its performance and drive improvement throughout the health system.

The Quality and Patient Safety Dashboard will measure 26 quality- and safety-related indicators and identify potential areas for improvement. The Alberta Health Services Board, through its Quality and Safety Committee, will monitor the dashboard on a regular basis.

“It is difficult to improve what you don’t measure,” says Dr. Andreas Laupacis (pictured), Chair of the Quality and Safety Committee. “The dashboard will provide meaningful, insightful and actionable information about the quality of care in Alberta, and allow us as a Board to drive change where it’s needed.”

The indicators were developed following consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. These indicators include:

• Surgery wait times by acuity level for elective primary hip and knee replacement surgeries.

• Access to cancer care services.

• Percentage of patients who smoke discharged with a smoking cessation plan.

• Falls among seniors receiving continuing care support.

• Average length of stay in Emergency Departments.

• Percentage of children receiving scheduled mental health treatment within 30 days.

• Patient satisfaction with care.

• Occurrence of serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents.

AHS expects initial data for some indicators in September.

“The reason we don’t have the data yet is one of the reasons Alberta Health Services was formed: there was no place where data for the entire province resided and there was no one group responsible for producing and analyzing these data,” said Dr. Laupacis.

“I’m excited we’re now doing this – and doing this in an organized and thoughtful way,” he said. “AHS is going to measure and publicly report these measurements on a regular basis. Results will be widely reviewed for validity and, wherever possible, appropriate action for improvement will be taken.”

About half of the dashboard indicators will be reported in 2010, with the remainder reported by 2013, as some indicators require the implementation of a program or data collection processes.

Indicators will measure quality using the Health Quality Council of Alberta matrix and will indicate potential action if targets are not met. Targets were identified using similar national and international targets for comparison.

Dr. Laupacis says the dashboard is a living document and will expand as new measures are identified and indicators are revised or discarded. It will be updated annually for most indicators and a selection of indicators will be updated quarterly, if available and appropriate.

Albertans can review the dashboard, and its indicators and targets, on the AHS website,

Over time, the dashboard will have drill-down capacity to present different information to different groups, depending on their need. The Board will receive high-level aggregate information that indicates the overall quality of the system; the Quality and Safety Committee will receive information aggregated to the zone level, while facilities and programs will receive specific information that informs process change.

“The dashboard supports AHS’s mission of providing a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans,” says Dr. Chris Eagle, Executive Vice President, Quality and Service Improvement. “It also embodies the organization’s core values: transparency, accountability, engagement and respect.”

The Board asked AHS to specifically monitor quality and safety in February 2009 and the dashboard was developed in response. It is a subset of Alberta Health Services’ 2009-2012 performance measures.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.5 million adults and children living in Alberta.

Posted February 25, 2010