Posted on April 19, 2017 by Simon Hagens
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) in partnership with Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) has released an important new report: “Unnecessary Care in Canada.”
Choosing Wisely Canada encourages conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments. As the report states: “In health care, more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Unnecessary tests and treatments are not helpful and they potentially expose patients to harm, more testing to investigate false positives and anxiety. Unnecessary care also wastes system resources and contributes to longer wait times.”
To effectively address unnecessary care, leaders in the health system need a clearer picture. How frequently are tests conducted or treatment provided when evidence would suggest it is not of value? Which tests, medications or procedures are most prone to overuse?
In spring 2015, seeking to inform policy decisions with evidence, Infoway launched the Data Impact Challenge to source answers to important health care questions from authorized data users and existing, potentially untapped, data. Working closely with CIHI and CWC, Infoway crafted a series of questions related to CWC recommendations in an attempt to fill information gaps. The findings from the Data Impact Challenge, consistent with the findings in the report overall, suggest great opportunity for improvement.
The good news is that digital health can help identify and address these opportunities. For example, electronic health records provide access to past results and have have been demonstrated to reduce duplication. Often it’s a challenge to make sure clinicians have access to the latest evidence. Clinical decision support can inform clinicians of leading practices and order entry with standardized order sets can influence ordering practices.
As Canadians and health system leaders gain a greater understanding of the issues raised in this report, Infoway will continue to ensure that data assets from digital health initiatives contribute evidence, and that digital health tools are part of the solution.
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Simon is Director of Benefits Realization at Canada Health Infoway, focusing on the adoption of digital health solutions and ensuring the clinicians, patients and the health system see the value.