Perspectives is the quarterly newsletter of the New Brunswick Health Council

In this issue...

Stéphane Robichaud
CEO of the NBHC

Message from the CEO

The 2015-2016 Business Plan outlines where the NBHC will be focusing its efforts in the months ahead. The NBHC tag-line, "Engage. Evaluate. Inform. Recommend," reflects the various facets of our work and was leveraged as a way to structure our business plan deliverables.  In addition, Council members identified the need to enhance public awareness of the information that has been prepared by the NBHC. To this end, the new business plan includes commitments for quarterly reports divided as follows: 1st quarter – Sustainability; 2nd quarter – Health Service Quality, 3rd quarter – Youth Health, and 4th quarter – Population Health.

As we move forward, quarterly themes will evolve and we will be able to build on the work of the previous year. For example, efforts to have local level information that can be compared to the rest of the province have proven to be more effective at mobilizing people than provincial information alone.  The positive response to the community profiles released in 2014 is a great example. Accordingly, this will mean on-going efforts at validating local indicators to ensure that those responsible for programs, services and public policies can include this information in their respective work plans.

I encourage you to read our sustainability brief, if you have not already done so.  The long-term sustainability of our provincial health system is a complex challenge.  Nevertheless, the brief outlines some basic principles and observations that must be part of any future provincial strategy. It also underlines the need to consider population health trends and health service quality in efforts to have a sustainable health system; these themes will be addressed in greater detail in quarters two, three and four. We look forward to hearing the feedback from all these reports, as it will help shape the direction of our work in the next fiscal year.

When it was created in 2008, the NBHC first put a lot of effort in ensuring that it had a clear understanding of its mandate and role in the provincial health system. It then adopted an approach that would be conducive to a successful start-up and ensure that, within three to five years, it would be fulfilling its mandate. Following a successful start-up, the 2015-2016 Business Plan is a first effort to evolve from the start-up approach.  Although the nature of our work remains aligned to our mandate, we are challenging ourselves to think and act differently when it comes to how we can contribute to having healthier engaged New Brunswickers, improved health services quality and a sustainable provincial health system.

Thank you to all those who contributed to our work in 2014-2015 and we look forward to new and continued collaborations in the coming year.

Health system sustainability in New Brunswick 

As part of its mandate, the NBHC has to measure, monitor and evaluate the sustainability of health services in New Brunswick. The sustainability challenge within the health system is receiving more attention today than it ever has before, but creating and validating health sustainability information is time consuming. The NBHC has made an effort to incorporate resource-level or costing information, whenever possible, in its reports, and has tried to make more information about resources within the system available on its website.
Multiple graphs have been published online regarding spending and health resources (and human resources), including graphs representing the number of health professionals and the population with a regular doctor. Data on the health budget, which includes the budget allocated by sector of care, was also published. By making this type of information available to the general public, more citizens will recognize that the health care system should be delivering far better quality results with current resource levels, but that more work is still required to appropriately reflect the level, distribution and utilization of resources within the health care system.

To further awareness of this reality, a brief titled Health System Sustainability in New Brunswick has just been published on the NBHC website. It states that citizens expect their health system to contribute to improving the health status of the population, to provide services that meet their needs and expectations, and to be managed in a sustainable way for future generations, but that we, as a province, have been underperforming compared to the national average on these dimensions. Our health system’s current course is not sustainable, but it could be once we have a clear and sustained commitment to multi-year integrated planning. We already have a wealth of information in New Brunswick to guide us, but the main challenge resides in the systematic approach to change and the strong governance and leadership needed to execute solutions.  
Did you know?

In the past five years, total provincial government expenses have increased from $7.82 billion to $8.26 billion, but revenues have only increased from $7.12 billion to $7.76 billion, and remain insufficient to meet spending demands. Public health system expenses represent 41% of provincial government expenses. 

Head over to our new Topics and Data sections

In an effort to make our findings and data easier to find, we have launched two new sections on our website: a Topics section and a Data section.

Our Topics section is a summary of our findings for a number of health-related subjects. This will help users understand an issue without having to consult multiple reports. The first topics available are the following: Health system sustainability, Expenditures, Human resources and Physical resources. As the year progresses, we will be adding a number of other topics related to health service quality and population health.
Our Data section is a compilation of our data tables by topic, by community and by hospital. This will help users more easily get their hands on the data they need. For example, if you’re interested in downloading all our data tables for a specific community, you no longer need to consult three or four pages anymore – they’re available here.

Both of these sections are works in progress in a broader website redesign strategy to make our findings and data more accessible to all.

Did you know?

In 2012, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries projected that New Brunswick’s health care costs would keep increasing at an annual average of 4.43% - which would bring health care costs to over $7 billion by 2030.

Such an increase is unsustainable. The projection is based on aging, increased utilization (due to an increase in chronic conditions) and inflation.

Completion of the Home Care Survey 

The data collection for our province-wide survey to evaluate the quality of home care provided to New Brunswickers is now completed and we would like to thank all citizens who took the time to share their experience with us.  To date, over 6,000 New Brunswickers filled out this paper survey. The overall results of this survey will be shared in a public report in the winter of 2016, and will help identify what is being done well and what could be done better. For the first time, we will also be able to compare results from this survey to the survey we conducted in 2012

Did you know?

New Brunswickers have expressed what they expect from quality and affordable publicly funded health services as the following: access to quality citizen-centred care that guides and tracks patients over time, through a comprehensive range of health services, spanning all levels of intensity of care, in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Update to the community profiles

In 2014, we published a series of 33 community profiles. These snapshots of New Brunswick communities were the product of time-consuming work from the NBHC team. In developing the profiles, we invited people from different sectors in the community to share their comments with us. Now that our profiles have been released for over a year - and after thousands of copies have been sent out - we are planning a review exercise to prepare the 2017 edition.

Therefore, in the next few weeks, if you have been identified as a member of a community group, stakeholder, health manager, association, etc., you could receive a questionnaire to provide us with feedback on the first edition of the community profiles. Our main goals will be to collect your general impressions about these profiles and to learn how you have used them and what improvements you would like to see. 

Your answers will help us improve the content and design of the profiles.

The new edition of the profiles will be available in 2017. Of all the documents produced by the NBHC, the community profiles are the ones that have been used the most. 
Did you know?

High health system users are associated with being older and having multiple chronic conditions. In New Brunswick, it is especially important to track these factors because a) we have one of the oldest populations in the country, and b) we have significantly more individuals with at least one chronic health conditions than other provinces.
The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance and population health, and that engages citizens in the improvement of health service quality.
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