Going inside Canada’s one-stop health care data shop

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Health and healthcare are always a major point of interest for Canadians. How many family doctors are there in Canada? What’s the wait time like in my local emergency room? How safe is my local hospital? Questions about health care are as common at the neighbourhood BBQ as they are on the floor of the House of Commons. () has been answering questions like that with relevant, timely data since 1994, making this past year our 20th anniversary. One of our biggest initiatives to date was the introduction of the Your Health System website. YourHealthSystem.CIHI.ca is the latest step in a years-long journey that continues today, enabling users to access the health information Canadians want and need.

Your Health System: In Brief sets the bar high

In November 2013, CIHI launched a new website, which combined new and previously released figures to provide Canadians with a snapshot of our overall health and a broad look at how our health system is performing. This later became Your Health System: In Brief.

It presents material in an interactive way that helps people easily understand how the health system is doing close to home, while also providing a provincial and national perspective. The site was created for the Canadian public, based on the health information they said was most important to them, featuring comparable, interactive and easily understood information.

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In short, it was a hit. The number of page visits was nearly unprecedented for CIHI and after a massive start, the traffic levelled off to a consistent level of hundreds of visits per day. The public and our stakeholders alike were given access to one-stop shopping for Canadian health data. The site won a 2014 eHealthcare Leadership Distinction Award for Best Interactive Website, a great honour in a field of more than 1,000 submissions. When CIHI launched the new In Depth section this past year, the two sites came together to become Your Health System

Your Health System: In Depth Takes the Next Step

This Fall, CIHI launched the In Depth section of Your Health System, representing the next step forward in searchable, customizable, timely data.

Launched in September, the site offers users the ability to compare health and among regions and hospitals throughout all of Canada.

Health care managers can use Your Health System: In Depth to look at their own data and then compare outcomes with those of other hospitals, regions, and other provinces and territories across the country. Users can look at the broader national, provincial or territorial picture as well as drill down to look at their health region or local hospitals.   One of the strengths of the site is how much easier it is to understand complex information, through the use of dynamic, interactive graphics..

This data can help health systems work more efficiently, more safely and more transparently. The users can analyze that data to determine best practices.  

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What’s more, the site has seen a consistently impressive amount of visits since its launch, attracting about 20 per cent more visits on launch day than the In Brief site did a year prior.

Feedback from our health system stakeholders has been very positive, as they start to explore and experiment with the new site and the wealth of data at their fingertips.

One such example came from Martha Burd, Director, Health System Analytics Team for the BC Ministry of Health: “It expanded our expectations of analysis. Individual indicators are given a national perspective – a broader scope – and we can get a peer-group perspective. It creates the concept of sister areas, where we can see how we perform in relation to other areas and see where we perform well and where maybe we need to perform better.”

Media across the country have been using the graphics from Your Health System: In Depth to illustrate the CIHI data they use in their stories.

Your Health System will evolve again, with updated results for the hospital deaths available in December.

The best is yet to come   Looking ahead to 2015, CIHI will grow Your Health System again, by adding comparable data for long-term care facilities and updating the existing indicators with the most recent year of data.   This information will be an invaluable addition to the pool of publicly available data CIHI uses to help our stakeholders in their day-to-day decision-making. Indicators will be updated on an ongoing basis.   CIHI will spend 2015 examining how we can engage more meaningfully with our stakeholders in government, in research and in health care. We will leverage our relevant, timely data to help provide important context to the health decisions of the day.   Better data. Better decisions. Healthier Canadians.   To access the website, go to YourHealthSystem.cihi.ca.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and analyzes information on health and healthcare in Canada and makes it publicly available. CIHI’s data and reports inform health policies, support the effective delivery of health services, and raise awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.

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