"Accountability" is the suitcase word in Canadian healthcare. As policy-makers, managers, researchers and providers, we pack accountability with meaning, carry it around with us and open it up to explain everything from the quality of our relationships with and expectations of one another, to our requirements for more transparency in the use of resources, to our diagnosis of problems and remedies for improving our healthcare system.
The authors investigated the use of Google Earth's Street View option to audit the presence of built environment features that support older adults' walking. Two raters conducted virtual (Street View) and in-the-field audits of 48 street segments surrounding urban and suburban assisted living sites in metropolitan Vancouver, BC, Canada. The authors determined agreement using absolute agreement. Their findings indicate that Street View may identify the presence of features that promote older adults' walking, including sidewalks, benches, public washrooms, and destinations. However, Street View may not be as reliable as in-the-field audits to identify details associated with certain items, such as counts of trees or street lights; presence, features, and height of curb cuts; and sidewalk continuity, condition, and slope. Thus, the appropriateness of virtual audits to identify microscale built environment features associated with older adults' walking largely depends on the purpose of the audits-specifically, whether the measurer seeks to capture highly detailed features of the built environment.
Until 2002, counties were responsible for providing both somatic and psychiatric specialized health care services in Norway. The financing arrangement of the counties consisted of fixed local taxes, a general block grant and different types of earmarked grants from the national government. Since 1997, earmarked conditional grants related to DRG-activity have been used for somatic services, whereas earmarked unconditional grants have been used for mental health care services from approximately the same time. This paper analyse the price and revenue effects of grants on the allocation of labour, with special attention to the two types of earmarked grants: conditional and unconditional. Theoretically, labour (as an index of production output) is assumed to be allocated to somatic and psychiatric services dependent upon revenues (taxes, block grants and earmarked unconditional grants), price per labour-year (that among other things are affected by earmarked conditional grants) and the preferences of the local government (which relate to the age structure and population density of the county). We assume that a conditional grant reduces the net price of labour and thereby increases the (relative) demand, whereas an unconditional grant adds to the other revenues of the county and do not affect the relative allocation of labour. Data from a panel of 18 counties for the period 1992-2001 is analysed using OLS with fixed effects. The results show revenue effects and direct price effects as expected. However, the assumption that unconditional grants do not affect relative allocation of labours is not supported. We find a positive effect of the unconditional grant to psychiatric care on the demand for labour in this sector. We interpret this as an effect of hierarchical governance such as supervision and monitoring that were remedies that were used together with the unconditional grant.
All aspects of the heath care sector are being asked to account for their performance. This poses unique challenges for local public health units with their traditional focus on population health and their emphasis on disease prevention, health promotion and protection. Reliance on measures of health status provides an imprecise and partial picture of the performance of a health unit. In 2004 the provincial Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences based in Ontario, Canada introduced a public-health specific balanced scorecard framework. We present the conceptual deliberations and decisions undertaken by a health unit while adopting the framework.
Posing, pondering and answering key questions assisted in applying the framework and developing indicators. Questions such as: Who should be involved in developing performance indicators? What level of performance should be measured? Who is the primary intended audience? Where and how do we begin? What types of indicators should populate the health status and determinants quadrant? What types of indicators should populate the resources and services quadrant? What type of indicators should populate the community engagement quadrant? What types of indicators should populate the integration and responsiveness quadrants? Should we try to link the quadrants? What comparators do we use? How do we move from a baseline report card to a continuous quality improvement management tool?
An inclusive, participatory process was chosen for defining and creating indicators to populate the four quadrants. Examples of indicators that populate the four quadrants of the scorecard are presented and key decisions are highlighted that facilitated the process.
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The aim of this article is to describe how an audit matrix for occupational health units was formulated, what the preliminary results tell about its applicability, and how the matrix can help to implement the principles of "good practice in occupational health services".
Twelve areas eligible for auditing were selected for the matrix. According to the recently issued principles of good practice, the principles of total quality management and continuous quality improvement, each area was divided into descriptions of 4 quality levels, the lowest being given 0 points and the highest 5-6 points. The maximum total score was 72 points.
Of the 30 external audits, no unit had less than 18 points. Nine units had 19-36 points, 17 units had 37-54 points, and 4 units had over 54 points. "Maintenance of work ability" received the highest mean of the given points (4.1), followed by "curative care"(4.0) and "multidisciplinarity"(3.9). The lowest means were for "planning of activities" (3.1), "customer orientation"(3.2), and "quality improvement"(3.2).
The audit matrix proved to be a practical method for auditing occupational health units, revealing both the most common flaws and strengths in the quality of Finnish occupational health services. Because the matrix has been accepted well by occupational health professionals and it manages to classify the units, it is probably a useful instrument for evaluating the performance of occupational health units and promoting good practice.
A study was conducted in 4 Canadian processing plants in 1995-96 to determine the prevalence of quality defects in Canadian cattle. One percent of the annual number of cattle processed in Canada were evaluated on the processing floor and 0.1% were graded in the cooler. Brands were observed on 37% and multiple brands on 6% of the cattle. Forty percent of the cattle had horns, 20% of which were scurs, 33% were stubs, 10% were tipped, and 37% were full length. Tag (mud and manure on the hide) was observed on 34% of the cattle. Bruises were found on 78% of the carcasses, 81% of which were minor in severity. Fifteen percent of the bruises were located on the round, 29% on the loin, 40% on the rib, 16% on the chuck, and 0.02% on the brisket. Grubs were observed in 0.02% of the steers, and injection sites were observed in 1.3% of whole hanging carcasses. Seventy percent of the livers were passed for human food and 14% for pet food; 16% were condemned. Approximately 71% of the liver condemnations were due to liver abscesses. Four percent of the heads, 6% of the tongues, and 0.2% of whole carcasses were condemned. The pregnancy rate in female cattle was approximately 6.7%. The average hot carcass weight was 357 kg (s = 40) in steers, 325 kg (s = 41) in heifers, 305 kg (s = 53) in cows, 388 kg (s = 62) in virgin bulls and 340 kg (s = 39) in mature bulls. The average ribeye area in all cattle was 84 cm2 (s = 12); range 29 cm2 to 128 cm2. Grade fat was highly variable and averaged 9 mm (s = 4) for steers and heifers, 6 mm (s = 6) for cows, 5 mm (s = 1) for virgin bulls, and 4 mm (s = 0.5) for mature bulls. The average lean meat yield was 59.7% in cattle (s = 3.4); range 39% to 67%. One percent of the carcasses were devoid of marbling, 1% were dark cutters, and 0.05% of the steer carcasses were staggy. Six percent of the carcasses had poor conformation, 3.7% were underfinished, and 0.7% were overfinished. Yellow fat was observed in 4% of the carcasses; 10% of carcasses were aged. Based on January 1996 prices, the economic analysis showed that the Canadian beef industry lost $70.52 per head or $189.6 million annually from quality nonconformities. Methods identified to reduce these nonconformities included improvements in management, animal identification, handling, genetic selection, marketing, grading, and information transfer.
To demonstrate how continuous quality improvement (CQI) can identify rational and effective means to reduce length of stay for minor illness/injury in an ED.
A CQI team documented the process of fast-track (FT) patient flow and prioritized the causes of delay. In Phase I, two solutions were implemented. In this Phase II of the study, three changes were implemented, including expansion of the FT area, realignment to provide a full-time FT nurse, and a detailed, stricter triage classification. The outcome was assessed by examining the interval from presentation to release from the ED (length of stay; LOS). Differences were ascertained by analysis variance for consecutive FT patients not requiring radiography, ECG, or blood testing. Intervals from three pre-Phase II intervention 48-hour periods and one post-Phase II intervention 48-hour period were analyzed.
Before the Phase I changes, the mean +/- SD LOS was 92 +/- 46 min. After the Phase I changes, the LOS was 67 +/- 31 min. After the Phase II changes, this was reduced to 57 +/- 34 min (p
Driven by the underperformance of many protected areas (PAs), protected area management effectiveness (PAME) evaluations are increasingly being conducted to assess PAs in meeting specified objectives. A number of PAME tools have been developed, many of which are based on the IUCN-WCPA framework constituting six evaluative elements (context, planning, input, process, output, and outcomes). In a quest for a more universal tool and using this framework, Leverington et al. (Environ Manag 46(5):685-698, 2010) developed a common scale and list of 33 headline indicators, purported to be representative across a wide range of management effectiveness evaluation tools. The usefulness of such composite tools and the relative weighting of indicators are still being debated. Here, we utilize these headline indicators as a benchmark to assess PAME in 37 PAs of four types in Krasnoyarsk Kray, Russia, and compare these with global results. Moreover, we review the usefulness of these indicators in the Krasnoyarsk context based on the opinions of local PA management teams. Overall, uncorrected management scores for studied PAs were slightly better (mean = 5.66 ± 0.875) than the global average, with output and outcome elements being strongest, and planning and process scores lower. Score variability is influenced by PA size, location, and type. When scores were corrected based on indicator importance, the mean score significantly increased to 5.75 ± 0.858. We emphasize idiosyncrasies of Russian PA management, including the relative absence of formal management plans and limited efforts toward local community beneficiation, and how such contextual differences may confound PAME scores when indicator weights are treated equal.