- Open Access
Reflections of the quality of primary care in Canada and Israel
© The Author(s). 2018
- Received: 6 July 2018
- Accepted: 29 July 2018
- Published: 3 August 2018
The original article was published in Israel Journal of Health Policy Research 2018 7:21
Rachel Podell and her colleagues at the National Program for Quality Indicators in Community Healthcare in Israel have provided a clear and engaging description of thequality of primary care provided to the elderly in Israel. They examine changes overtime, variation across sub-groups, and comparisons with other countries. Over a 13year timeframe, most of the included process measures improved substantially, withfairly minor differences between demographic groups and largely favourablecomparisons with other countries.
In the Podell et al article, there are few direct comparisons of primary care available between Canada and Israel, but we know from other studies that Canadian primary care compares relatively unfavourably with ten other developed countries in a number of measures. These include timely access to care, after-hours care, electronic medical record use and audit and feedback for quality improvement. More concerning is that few of these measures have improved in Canada over a number of years, despite a major policy focus on primary care, investments in payment reforms and the formation of groups and inter-professional teams.
Differences in performance trajectories could relate to the major structural differences in primary care between Canada and Israel. While Canada has universal health insurance coverage for necessary physician and hospital services, most physicians practice privately, are paid mainly through fee-for-service and have few accountabilities to the health care system. Many Canadians lack a regular source of primary care and there is little or no competition between primary care practices or groups, as most of them have full practices, and are not accepting new patients. No Canadian province has completely implemented electronic medical records in primary care. Canada also lacks the organizational, administrative and support structures of Israel's health maintenance organizations.
Canada and other countries can learn from the advances in data, measurement, feedback, and organization of care that are now applied routinely to ongoing quality improvement in Israel, with impressive results. The Israeli experience suggests that future developments designed to improve care and outcomes should include measurement infrastructure, formal reporting, accountability mechanisms, and management systems to address gaps and inequities in care.
The Podell at et al. article provides a clear and compelling description of data-driven improvements in the quality of primary care provided to the elderly in Israel. Canada and other countries can learn from the advances in data, measurement, feedback, and organization of care that are now applied routinely to ongoing quality improvement in Israel, with impressive results. In contrast, little improvement in outcomes has taken place in Canadian primary care despite substantial policy advances and investments. The Israeli experience suggests that future developments designed to improve care and outcomes should include measurement infrastructure, formal reporting, accountability mechanisms, and management systems to address gaps and inequities in care.
RG is the sole author. The author read and approved the final manuscript.
Richard Glazier is a Senior Scientist and Scientific Lead for Primary Care and Population Health at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, a Family Physician and Scientist in the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital and a Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. His undergraduate medical training was at the University of Western Ontario, his postgraduate Family Medicine training was at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada and his graduate training and residency in General Preventive Medicine and Public Health was at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
Podell R, Kaufman Shriqui V, Wolff Sagy Y, Manor O, Ben-Yehuda A: The quality of primary care provided to the elderly in Israel. Isr J Health Policy Res. 2018, 7(1):21.
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Richard Glazier was an invited speaker at the 6th International Jerusalem Conference on Health Policy in 2016 and he has previously published with Vered Kaufman Shriqui. He has no other interests to declare.
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