New Brunswick Health System Report Card: good performance when sick, but improvements needed in prevention

11 December 2012
For immediate publication
Moncton, NB (NBHC) – The New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) is releasing its third Health System Report Card, an important tool that measures the quality of health services being delivered in the province.  This tool provides an overall appreciation of how New Brunswick fares compared to other provincial jurisdictions.
The Report Card produces letter grades, much like a school report card would, according to the six dimensions of quality the NBHC must report on: Accessibility, Appropriateness, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Safety and Equity.  An overall grade was calculated for each dimension from a combination of relevant indicators. A seven letter scale was created, from “F” to “A+”, using the best score in the country as an A+ and the worst as an F.
 “The number of indicators in this year’s report card has increased once again, from 111 to 137 indicators,” says NBHC CEO Stéphane Robichaud. “We have been able to cover more service areas, due in part to the results of our Home Care survey and to the continuous collaboration with system stakeholders, leading to a more balanced picture.” 
This year’s report card displays grade improvements in some areas and lower grades in others. However, the current overall provincial performance grade remains at “C” and shows no change from last year.
Accessibility lost some of the gains achieved last year, and went back to a “C” grade. Further improvement was achieved in having regular medical doctors (among the highest rates in Canada), yet it does not translate into better access to doctor visits with more people reporting difficulties accessing routine or immediate care.  Access to some surgeries got worse with more patients waiting longer for some orthopedic surgeries (hip fractures: “A+” to “C” and knee replacement from “D” to “E”). On the other hand, access to specialists, home care services, and long term care beds seem to be improving.
Appropriateness measures how well New Brunswick is performing in providing the necessary screening or preventative care. This year’s grade of “C” is better than the previous “D”. This was driven mainly by the improvement in the appropriateness of acute care with lower hysterectomy rates, and a slight improvement in hospitalization rate for mental illness. 
Keeping people safe should be a priority in New Brunswick; accordingly it is a good sign to see that the Safety dimension scored a grade of “A”. This year, 20 indicators were reported for safety (compared to 14 last year), which look at the hospital mortality rate, the reporting on in-hospital hip  
fractures, as well as some major hospital acquired infections, all of which scored grades that ranged between “A” and “A+”.
“Overall, this year’s report further confirms the need to focus on improving “preventative practices” in our provincial system,” says Mr. Robichaud. “If you’re severely sick, the provincial health system compares to the best in the country. When it comes to preventing the development of chronic conditions or preventing associated complications, we perform poorly.”
Finally, if we look at the Equity dimension, again this year there are issues that need to be addressed regarding Accessibility for Aboriginal people. “There are discrepancies between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people when we look at access to a family doctor and access to Primary Health Care in general, as well as to home healthcare services, which translate to inequities in care”, says Mr. Robichaud. 
The complete Report Card is available online at
The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance, population health and to engage citizens in the improvement of health service quality.
New Brunswick Health Council: Christine Paré, 506-869-6714,  


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