What is sufficient data to make effective decisions about the health system? What is the quality of that data?
Two issues came up at Wednesday’s Central East LHIN board meeting to illustrate both questions.
The LHINs across Ontario are balking at a lengthy list of performance indicators from the province they claim are “too many and too detailed.” The CE LHIN says it would need additional staff to keep up with the data stream the province is asking for.
James Meloche, a Senior Director with the CE LHIN, said the list of indicators was not strategic, leading departing board member Ron Francis to suggest the LHIN should be asking the province what they are planning to do with the data generated by these indicators.
Three different bodies are presently generating lists of indicators without any coordination between them. The LHIN says Hospitals are “maxed out” by the requirement for an every increasing stream of data.
For all the data that is presently collected, the veracity of it came into question in an exchange between Meloche and CE LHIN board member Samantha Singh.
Singh had questioned CE Community Care Access Centre CEO Don Ford on the large number of children awaiting speech-language therapy in the LHIN. Ford confirmed that the wait list for speech language therapy was between two and three years.
Meloche chimed in that the LHIN had previously only had 70 people on the wait list for speech language therapy– including both children and adults. After a recent blitz, he said that list was now down to 10.
Singh was incredulous; saying one school she visited had eight children waiting for speech language therapy.
The LHIN board also had a lengthy discussion about delays in getting data. At the April meeting the board was just getting results from the third quarter of last year. Paul Barker, a senior director of the LHIN, said reporting periods were “all over the map.” The third quarter data showed two hospitals in deficit, whereas in fact he said only one – Peterborough – would finish the year in the red.
With delays in getting data, the board is sometimes left making decisions on information that is six months old.