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This article was published 10/11/2017 (1109 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The latest Manitoba health data analyzed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information show the province looking decidedly average when compared with the rest of the country.
How healthy are Manitobans? How healthy are their lifestyles? Do they get the health services they need? Is the care they receive of high quality? Are they being prescribed the appropriate medications?
Only on patient safety does Manitoba dip below.
And it’s not just when compared with the rest of Canada — the province is also pretty average when stacked up against more than 30 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to 2015 figures published today by CIHI.
But look a little further back, Tracy Johnson said, and the trends tell a more promising story.
"One of the things that we can see over time is that Manitoba is doing better in a number of areas," said Johnson, the CIHI’s director of health systems analysis and emerging issues.
Manitoba is trending up when it comes to lowering its infant-mortality rate, decreasing the number of women who smoke, increasing the number of seniors who get a flu shot, improving the amount of time patients spend with their doctors and how easy it is for them to get next-day appointments with their doctor.
On another promising note, the rate at which people are dying within 30 days of being hospitalized for a heart attack or stroke has also gone down.
"(These) are challenges for some of the other provinces," Johnson said.
"So when you look at the trends, you’re doing a bit better."
To know how Manitoba compares with other provinces and countries in 2015 — the most recent year for which data has been published — the CIHI’s online OECD tool breaks it down.
These types of comparisons are significant, Johnson notes, because it gives some much-needed perspective.
The report accompanying this year’s data focuses on antibiotic prescriptions.
The CIHI figures show that every day, 20 or so Canadians out of every 10,000 take a dose of antibiotics.
In fact, antibiotics were prescribed more frequently in Canada in 2015 than in other OECD countries — a troubling figure, considering antibiotics are used too often, incorrectly, and the World Health Organization has deemed antibiotic-resistant infections one of the biggest threats to global health.
Comparing to other countries offers ideas for possible change, Johnson said, highlighting the Netherlands in particular.
In 2015, the Netherlands prescribed half the antibiotics that Canada did — a big change from a decade ago, Johnson said, when the country was seeing antibiotic resistance coming through meat processing and started to get serious about a national strategy.
"It’s one of those policy areas where when we look internally, we can see success when people put their minds to the challenge," she said.
While Manitoba prescribes antibiotics at a rate slightly lower than the national average — 20.6 instead of 20.8 per every 10,000 people — that rate goes up when factoring in second-line antibiotics.
Second line is essentially when your doctor gives you a second prescription, Johnson said.
And while in some provinces patients needing a second line have to get additional approval before submitting a drug claim for that additional dose, that’s not the case in Manitoba.
Still, Johnson said, whether that’s the reason the prescription rate goes up in the province would be just a guess at this point since physician prescribing habits also have a role to play.
"It’s hard to tell," she said.