Headlines

Canada - Canada’s health expenditure: Spending on prescribed drugs increases, total growth remains slow This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information has released two reports on health spending in Canada. The first examines health expenditure trends from 1975 to 2016 and finds that the slow growth trend that started in 2011 continued in 2016, with an increase of 2.7%, which is below the pace of inflation and population growth combined. The second report looks specifically at drug spending. It finds that 42.6% of prescription drug spending was financed by the public sector and identifies drug categories with the highest impact on spending: topping the list were biologics used in rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, which accounted for 8.2% of total public spending; close behind were hepatitis C drugs. Both reports include provincial and national data.

Finland - Counties as the organisers of health and social services is a good solution This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland has released results of an international assessment panel's evaluation of Finnish reforms. The panel considers that counties provide a better level than municipalities at which to place responsibility for integrated health and social services, and therefore considers recent reforms to be functional. The panel points to factors that will be important in reform implementation, including resources to enable counties to develop capacities, strong information systems, and state guidance for organizing and evaluating services.

UK - Prime Minister unveils plans to transform mental health support This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to transform mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities. The measures include mental health training for school staff, a partnership with employers to improve workplace mental health support, and the expansion of digital mental health services and treatment services outside hospitals.

USA - HHS selects eight states for new demonstration program to improve access to high quality behavioral health services This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has selected eight US states for a Certified Community Behavioural Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program aimed at improving community health services. The project is part of an effort to integrate behavioural and physical health care and improve access to care for people with mental and substance use disorders.

International - New approach needed to tackle rising drug prices This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The proliferation of high-cost medicines and rising drug prices are increasing pressures on public health spending and calling into question the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing strategies. Governments need to work with the industry and regulators to define a new approach to the development and use of new health technologies that encourages innovation while also delivering more affordable and value for money treatments, according to a new OECD report.

Upcoming Events

Canada - 25th Harm Reduction International Conference - At the Heart of the Response
This event will take place in Montreal on May 14-17, 2017. The theme of this year’s conference is 'At the Heart of the Response', and the programme will include presentations, panels, workshops and dialogue space sessions on innovative harm reduction services, new or ground-breaking research, effective or successful advocacy campaigns and key policy discussions or debates.

Canada - CRDCN webinar: The Canadian Community Health Survey: what’s new in the 2015 cycle?
Significant changes were brought to the Community Health Survey in 2015. In this webinar, Andrew Mackenzie, Section Chief at the branch of Statistics Canada responsible for the survey, will provide an overview of changes to the questionnaire content, sampling procedure and implications for comparability with earlier surveys. The webinar takes place January 25, 2017, from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m.

Reports and Issue Portfolios

Belgium - Governance Models for Hospital Collaborations This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Although collaboration between Belgian hospitals has vastly increased over the last decade, the governance structure of the Belgian Hospital Act (BHA) is not well suited to directing these developments. This study identifies collaborative models for enhancing task distribution and cost-effective care in order to make recommendations for legislative changes to the BHA. It focuses on collaborations involving clinical services and major medical equipment.

Canada - Ontario’s Health System: Key Insights for Engaged Citizens, Professionals and Policymakers This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Edited by the McMaster Health Forum’s director, John Lavis, this book aims to help make the Ontario healthcare system more understandable to the citizens who pay for it and are served by it, the professionals who work in it, and the policymakers who govern it. The book begins by providing historical context and ends by examining current goals and improvement strategies. Each of the 11 chapters begins with key messages for each of these groups.

Europe - Toolkit for assessing health system capacity to manage large influxes of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants This hyperlink will open in a new window.
In recent years, Europe has seen a marked increase in arrivals of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants. This toolkit for assessing health system capacity to manage large influxes of people was developed by the WHO to support national ministries of health across the continent. It discusses access, standards of care, administrative support, funding, public health, and health inequities.

Sweden - Effects of Increased Competition on Quality of Primary Care in Sweden This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Many health systems have implemented policies to make care providers engage in competition based on quality. This paper examines the impact of recent reforms in primary care in Sweden that affected competition in municipalities. The paper shows that, overall, the reforms have increased the number of municipal private care providers, with modest effects on primary care quality. There was no indication that quality had decreased.

UK - Swimming together or sinking alone: health, care and the art of systems leadership This hyperlink will open in a new window.
In December 2015, the National Health Service (NHS) announced a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) to make local governments a major partner in shaping and delivering financially sustainable health care adapted to local needs. Based on interviews with NHS and local government leaders, this report analyzes this pivotal shift in funding, administration and care, and identifies strategies to make decentralized leadership a success.

UK - How hospital activity and funding in England have changed over time This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The UK National Health Service (NHS) is currently struggling to maintain standards of care. Reviewing data from England since 2003, this article shows that rising demand has dramatically increased hospital activity (admissions, referrals, outpatient services, and diagnostic tests) during a period of unprecedented decreases in funding. Rising hospital usage is attributed to population growth and aging, and advances in medical treatment.

International - The Effects of Pay-for-Performance Programs on Health, Health Care Use, and Processes of Care: A Systematic Review This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This systematic review of 69 studies examines the effects of pay-for-performance (P4P) programs targeted at the physician, group, managerial, or institutional level on process-of-care and patient outcomes in ambulatory and inpatient settings. It finds that P4P programs may be associated with improved processes of care in ambulatory settings, but consistently positive associations with improved health outcomes have not been demonstrated in any setting.

International - Caring For Quality in Health. Lessons Learnt from 15 Reviews of Health Care Quality This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Between 2012 and 2016, the OECD conducted a series of reviews looking at policies and institutions design to measure and improve healthcare quality in 15 OECD countries, primarily in Europe. The findings presented in this final synthesis report identify common challenges, responses, and leading edge practices to delivering value for money in health care.

International - Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Produced by the OECD, this report reviews strategies put in place by the 34 OECD member countries to limit ineffective healthcare spending and waste. Preventable clinical errors and low-value care are discussed, as are ways to obtain lower prices for medical goods. The report examines different countries' attempts to contain administrative costs and reduce errors.