Every day, thousands of Canadians receive primary health care (PHC) services, usually through a nurse practitioner, a general practitioner or a family physician. PHC is an important source of chronic disease prevention and management. It may involve health professionals such as nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, dietitians, physiotherapists and social workers.
This type of care typically involves
Primary Health Care Information program
CIHI’s Primary Health Care (PHC) Information program provides leadership in improving and making available PHC data and information across Canada. In collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including providers and health system decision-makers, CIHI offers data solutions (standards to improve PHC electronic medical record [EMR] data) and information solutions (indicators and analyses) that can be used to
Read our information sheet to learn more about the Primary Health Care Information program.
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PHC Voluntary Reporting System (EMR data source)
The EMR offers a potential data source of PHC data. CIHI worked with participating PHC clinicians across Canada to collect and analyze a subset of EMR data in a privacy-sensitive manner using the prototype PHC Voluntary Reporting System (PHC VRS). These clinicians received comparative feedback reports on quality indicators, utilization and their practice profile. The PHC VRS provided tremendous insight to the need for a priority subset of PHC EMR data standards.
Currently, most EMR data is free text, which makes data extraction and analysis labour-intensive and unsustainable on a large scale. As a result, CIHI retired the PHC VRS and will focus on supporting jurisdictions with the development and implementation of the PHC EMR data standards. The PHC VRS has been a valuable tool that will help inform the evolution of the EMR landscape across Canada.
CIHI’s report Insights and Lessons Learned From the PHC VRS Prototype offers insights about
Enhancing existing data sources
For patient and provider surveys, we increased sample sizes and aligned survey questions with our PHC indicators. Enhanced survey sources include
Pan-Canadian primary health care indicators
In 2006, CIHI released 105 pan-Canadian PHC indicators, which were identified through a consensus process as being necessary to measure and compare PHC performance at multiple levels within and across jurisdictions in Canada.
Building on this, in 2012, CIHI updated two suites of indicators—one to meet the needs of policy-makers and health system managers and the other to meet the needs of PHC providers. Broad stakeholder consultations were undertaken to ensure that the updated indicator definitions were developed in alignment with an identified data source, consistent with current clinical guidelines and reflected important aspects of PHC.
Pan-Canadian primary health care EMR content standard
Working with key stakeholders, including Canada Health Infoway, CIHI released the pan-Canadian PHC EMR Content Standard (PHC EMR CS) in 2011. Informed by consultations and environmental scans, CIHI is working with a pan-Canadian Jurisdictional Advisory Group to accelerate standards adoption by issuing a PHC EMR CS priority subset (from 106 to 45 data elements) and associated clinician-friendly pick-lists. When implemented at the point of care, the standard will increase the availability of structured coded data in EMRs and support quality improvement and health system use.
The PHC EMR CS priority subset and associated clinician-friendly pick-lists will be released in 2014.
Pan-Canadian primary health care survey questions and tools
CIHI worked with survey experts from across the country to develop a core set of primary health care survey questions and supporting survey instruments. This effort drew on existing survey questions in use in Canada and internationally.
While coordinated by CIHI, this work was led by survey experts and informed and influenced by future users of the tools. Our goal is to develop and release a core set of pan-Canadian primary health care patient, provider and practice survey questions and supporting tools for a broad range of users.
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Three technical reports on the survey development process are available on the Canadian Primary Health Care Research and Innovation Network website.