Australia - Costs of patient care can be almost twice as high at some hospitals This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This report from the Australian National Health Performance Authority reveals significant variations in the cost of average in-patient services provided by major metropolitan hospitals. The average cost of a knee replacement without complications varied from a low of $10,900 to a high of $29,300. This is the first national comparison of hospital costs that accounts for the fact that some hospitals perform more complicated operations or see sicker patients.

Canada - Ontario Launches Home Care Plan to Improve Access and Expand Service This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The new plan outlines how the government will transform how care is delivered at home and in the community. In addition to increasing nursing hours, key initiatives will include: Expanding supports for family caregivers; Giving clients and caregivers greater say in choosing a provider, and how and when that provider delivers services; Clear and consistent levels of home and community care services no matter where in the province a patient lives; Enhancing support for personal support workers; Providing greater choice for palliative and end-of-life care.

Canada - Modelling helps Saskatchewan health care managers, policy makers make better, more informed decisions This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Health Quality Council's Measurement and Analysis Services team is now able to offer predictive modelling services to healthcare managers based on evidence around factors that affect the use of a service. Modeling holds the potential to help regions anticipate changes in demand.

Canada - Many more young Canadians using health services for mental disorders This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that the rate of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits by children and youth in Canada for mental disorders has increased substantially since 2006–2007. The increase is largest in youth age 10 to 17, with ED visit rates up 53% and inpatient rates up 74%. One theory is that reduced stigma has prompted more people to seek help.

International - OECD outlines action for governments to tackle heavy cost of harmful drinking This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use: Economics and Public Health Policy says that the increase of risky drinking behaviours is a worrying trend as it is associated with higher rates of traffic accidents and violence, as well as increased risk of acute and chronic health conditions. The report shows that several policies have the potential to reduce heavy drinking, regular or episodic, as well as alcohol dependence. Governments seeking to tackle binge drinking and other types of alcohol abuse can use a range of policies that have proven to be effective, including counselling heavy drinkers, stepping up enforcement of drinking-and-driving laws, as well as raising taxes, raising prices, and increasing the regulation of the marketing of alcoholic drinks.

Upcoming Events

Canada - 22nd Canadian Conference on Global Health
The 22nd Canadian Conference on Global Health will provide a forum for practitioners, researchers, educators, students, policy makers and community mobilizers interested in primary health care to share knowledge, experience and promote innovation and collaborative action. The 2015 Conference is hosted by the Canadian Society for International Health (CSIH) held in partnership with the Global Health Research Capacity Training Program (GHR-CAPS). The event will take place in Montreal on November 5-7, 2015.

Canada - Networks as Interventions: Policy Tool or Panacea?
The University of Alberta is holding this symposium to explore the effectiveness of inter-organizational networks in addressing critical policy issues. It will identify the characteristics of high-functioning networks and describe recent developments and innovations. The symposium takes place September 22 to 24, 2015, in Edmonton.

Reports and Issue Portfolios

Canada - Home Care in Canada: Advancing Quality Improvement and Integrated Care This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This report from Accreditation Canada and the Canadian Home Care Association tracks the evolution of home care in Canada and highlights results achieved in the context of Accreditation Canada's QMENTUM program. It features tools to assess governance and safety culture, presents best practices and looks at future directions.

Canada - Drug Coverage for Low-Income Families: The Canadian reality and lessons from Switzerland and the Netherlands This hyperlink will open in a new window.
As the Canadian government looks at drug insurance policy in Canada, the Fraser Institute has published two studies that seek to inform policy debate. A first explains the drug insurance coverage already available to low-income Canadians. A second presents the universal drug coverage programs available in Switzerland and the Netherlands, which are provided through regulated, competing private insurance companies.

Canada - Improving Access to Care by Expanding the Role of Pharmacists This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This economic note from the Montreal Economic Institute considers that expanding the role of pharmacists in offering front-line services is a good way to improve patient access to care and reduce costs. However, it states that the recently adopted Bill 28 does not go far enough, offering remuneration for just 3 of the 7 new pharmaceutical consultations that government has authorized, in theory, since 2011. Pharmacists are not allowed to charge a fee for the other services.

New Zealand - Measuring health system performance: A new approach to accountability and quality improvement in New Zealand This hyperlink will open in a new window.
A new whole-of-system approach to measuring health system performance, based on Triple Aim objectives, is being introduced in New Zealand. This article in Health Policy presents the features of the program, called the Integrated Performance and Incentive Framework (IPIF). Measures will be set at both national and district levels and will be applied first to primary health care before being expanded to other services.

UK - Service user engagement and health service reconfiguration: a rapid evidence synthesis This hyperlink will open in a new window.
In the UK, National Health Service (NHS) organisations are required to consult patients and the public about proposals for major changes to services. The National Institute for Health Research undertook this study to assess what is known about effective public and patient engagement in this context. Authors conclude that patients and the public could be engaged through a wide variety of methods. In selecting which methods to employ locally, decision-makers should take into account the nature of the local population and of the proposed service changes.

UK - Towards a framework for enhancing procurement and supply chain management practice in the NHS: lessons for managers and clinicians from a synthesis of the theoretical and empirical literature This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The authors of this review, published by the UK National Institute for Health Research, looked at the literature in four areas — organisational buying behaviour; economics of contracting; networks and interorganisational relationships; and integrated supply chain management — to see how these might contribute to better commissioning and procurement in the National Health Service (NHS).

USA - Case studies in emergency medicine: Integrating care for the acutely ill and injured This hyperlink will open in a new window.
The Brookings Institute offers this look at ways to improve emergency medicine in the US. While the authors find that the acute care itself is excellent, patient education and care coordination are not reimbursed and this works to the detriment of integration, follow-up and post-discharge services. Case studies highlight successful care models in emergency medicine developed for a May 2015 event by medical and health policy experts.

International - How to reform western care payment systems according to physicians, policy makers, healthcare executives and researchers: a discrete choice experiment This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Knowledge on how different groups of professional stakeholders trade off the merits and downsides of healthcare payment systems is limited. This study, published in BMC Health Services Research, asked physicians, policymakers, administrators and researchers from a number of countries, including Canada, to choose between different hypothetical payment profiles. It finds that value-based payments align better with stakeholders' overall objectives in most countries.

International - An Asian Flavour for Medicare Learning from Experiments in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan This hyperlink will open in a new window.
This paper from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute looks to Asian countries as potential models for Canadian healthcare funding and delivery. The authors highlight these countries' willingness to learn from abroad, their frequent reviews of health policy, use of salaried hospital specialists, user fees and competition among private hospitals, along with well-developed long-term care systems.