Perspectives is the monthly newsletter of the New Brunswick Health Council

In this issue...

Stéphane Robichaud
CEO of the NBHC

Message from the CEO

Appearing before the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations last week, I thought back to the creation of the New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) in 2008. Given the mandate to report publicly on population health and health service quality, our challenge became evident when we discovered a lack of provincially standardized information about the provincial health system. This lack of data meant the health system decision process had developed without such data and provincially financed health services had evolved in the absence of this information about population health or health service quality.
Since 2008, availability and access to provincial information for both areas have improved greatly. The NBHC benefited from collaborations with stakeholders throughout the health system as well as from many government departments. For those involved in managing and analyzing data, they welcomed the opportunity to enhance New Brunswickers’ collective understanding of health. Beyond the administrative necessity of collecting and storing data, it resulted in added value and meaning to their work.
The NBHC has assisted in the evolution of this information, through our involvement in the analysis of administrative indicators; surveying thousands of citizens each year on care experience; and leading various engagement activities with citizens and health service providers. As a result, the NBHC has developed a unique perspective on the performance of the provincial health system.
During my appearance with the Standing Committee, the work of the NBHC was publicly recognized. The members highlighted the importance of sharing with all elected officials what the NBHC has learned regarding the performance of the provincial health system. For almost three hours, various questions shared a common theme: why are we not doing better in New Brunswick? There is a characteristic of top performing systems that can lead to an answer.
Effective communication is conducive to building a trusting environment. While discussion and information sharing among health system stakeholders have led to a growing consensus regarding priorities and needed shifts in the delivery of health services, it has often failed to translate into actual improvement. Why is this?
The decision-making processes of the provincial health system that have developed over the years are not designed to create an abundance of communications or trust among participants. While elected officials, employees, and volunteers all desire to improve this situation, they are faced with a culture of silence and lack of trust that has formed over five decades. I shared with the Standing Committee how the political cycle, which leads to periods of inertia at the beginning and the end of mandates, has become an obstacle to sustained and focused work on provincial priorities.
The Standing Committee members showed they understood the issue and asked what we would suggest as an answer.  For starters, the culture’s distrust of those “speaking truth to power” represents a key challenge for the senior civil service. It blurs the “line in the sand” that marks where the political part of government ends and the civil service starts, leading to confusion of roles. There is wide recognition of the need to address this issue. It needs to be discussed more openly, if we want to find an answer, and move our health system forward.


New NBHC report on chronic conditions and health service quality

The NBHC's latest report looks at the current status of the New Brunswick health system’s efforts in terms of prevention or management of chronic health conditions. It describes key elements for optimal quality of service and analyzes several indicators to provide an understanding of the current quality of service with an emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness. 

See the report here
Did you know?
The number of New Brunswickers with chronic health conditions keep increasing, even among younger age groups. This is true in all parts of New Brunswick, but some regions are seeing bigger increases than others.

Source: New Brunswick Health Council, Chronic Conditions and Health Service Quality: Are We Meeting the Need?, October 2016

Student study exploring the hidden cost of informal caregiving in N.B. - Volunteers needed

The Collaborative for Healthy Aging and Care is reaching out to informal caregivers to fill out a survey on informal caregiving of older adults in New Brunswick. The study, conducted by students at St. Thomas University, seeks to uncover the hidden social, financial and personal costs of informal caregiving.

Student-Led Survey For Informal Caregivers in NB - Online / Paper Copy

We are hoping to uncover the hidden social, financial, and personal costs of informal caregiving in the province of New Brunswick. An informal caregiver is someone who provides support to an older adult, typically without pay. By asking informal caregivers about their experiences, we would like to find out how they can be better supported in the important work that they do.

There will be the option to take part in a Social Media campaign, inside the survey, where we hope to share the stories of informal caregivers themselves, and bring attention and appreciation to their role. 

If you know of any informal caregivers in the province, we would greatly appreciate you passing this along, as we hope to reach as many people as possible. The survey may be completed online, or on paper.

Thank you for your time! We look forward to working with you.

Carly Furlong, Morgan Downs and Erin Jackson
STU Social Work Students

Did you know?
The New Brunswick health system could offer more support to help New Brunswickers who are chronically ill properly manage their chronic conditions.

New Brunwickers with three or more chronic conditions experience:
access to primary care providers that isn't always managed according to need
coordination of care that isn't always based on need
less decision involvement and knowledge of medications as chronic conditions increase
screening and follow-up that aren't always managed according to need
more mental health support, but there is still unmet need

Source: New Brunswick Health Council, Chronic Conditions and Health Service Quality: Are We Meeting the Need?, October 2016

Changes to Perspectives - Readers' Survey

In the last issue, we asked you to let us know what you enjoyed about Perspectives, what you would like to see more of and what timing would work best for you. You clicked, you typed, we've read your responses and rethought how we do things.
The three main takeaways from the survey were:
a) The majority of respondents prefer a monthly format. We're going to shift to a monthly format beginning now, to provide you with more timely information, more often and on a wider range of topics related to health in New Brunswick.
b) Our readers have wide-ranging tastes in terms of favourite content; some rate survey updates as their favourite, while other prefer the CEO's message (he thanks you). Others enjoy the "Did you know's" or the event announcements. We're keeping our content mix, although we may theme some issues around a certain topic. We’ll also try and provide more coverage of some subjects you indicated that you wanted to see more often.
c) Most importantly, you made it very clear that you want to share *your* perspectives with us, on lots of subjects. So we're incorporating a section in every newsletter where we'll take a question, comment or topic and ask for your feedback. We may publish some of the responses we receive, so get those comments started with our first question below. Of course, if you have a comment or question that you want to share that we haven't mention, you are always free to send it to us at - just include "perspectives" in the subject so we know how to respond to it.
Thanks to everyone who answered the survey and we hope you like our fresh Perspectives on health in New Brunswick.

Did you know?
The more chronic conditions citizens have, the less confident they are in their ability to manage them.

Source: New Brunswick Health Council, Chronic Conditions and Health Service Quality: Are We Meeting the Need?, October 2016

Media stories and announcements

The NBHC receives a weekly report of media stories and announcements related to its core activities: Engagement, Population Health, Care Experience, Sustainability. The following story is an example of the type of stories that are included. If this weekly report would be of benefit to you and you aren’t already a recipient, please contact us at for information on subscribing for free.
Did you know?

60% of New Brunswickers use the emergency room for non emergency reasons.

Source: New Brunswick Health Council, Chronic Conditions and Health Service Quality: Are We Meeting the Need?, October 2016

Your Perspective

The NBHC recently received a message on Twitter related to our most recent report. The author recommended the expansion of the NB PharmaCheck™ program that funds Medication Check-ups for individuals with 3 or more medications for chronic conditions who are seniors or Social Development clients and on the NB Prescription Drug Program.
The Medication Check-ups are meant to support the "appropriate utilization of chronic medications to improve patient outcomes." What are your thoughts on the program? Do you think there should be any changes to access? Let us know your thoughts at

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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