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Canada’s Health System: International Comparisons

Comparing countries’ health systems can help Canadians understand how well their health system is working. Although health information is collected and used differently in every country, policy-makers, practitioners and the public can use international comparisons to establish priorities for improvement, set goals and motivate stakeholders to act.

Compare Canada with OECD countries

Use CIHI’s interactive web tools to compare Canada’s results with those of other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

The Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy surveys

The Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy surveys fill important information gaps by polling patients and providers in a number of developed countries. CIHI’s companion reports on the following surveys highlight the Canadian story and examine how experiences vary across Canada and relative to other developed countries.

2015 survey of primary care physicians: This edition of the survey provides comparable information on the views and experiences of primary care doctors in 10 countries.
2014 survey of older adults: This survey polled the general population age 55 and older in 11 developed countries.

Reports and analyses

Canada’s International Health System Performance Over 50 Years: Examining Potential Years of Life Lost

This report compares Canada’s performance in premature mortality with that of 17 other high-income OECD countries from 1960 to 2010. Using mortality data from the OECD, the report examines how Canada has performed overall on potential years of life lost (PYLL), explores differences between men and women, and examines Canada’s performance on 4 causes of premature mortality (cancer, heart disease, stroke and external causes). Explore the data further using CIHI’s interactive web tool. 

International Comparisons: A Focus on Diabetes (2015)

This report uses data from the OECD’s biennial report Health at a Glance 2015 to compare Canada internationally across 5 dimensions of care. Using the topic of diabetes as an example, the report illustrates how comparing Canada’s indicator results with those of international comparators can provide context for our performance and point to potential strategies for improvement.

International Comparisons: A Focus on Quality of Care (2014)

As health care systems evolve to meet new demands and growing needs, measuring and monitoring quality of care has become increasingly common both in Canada and worldwide. This report uses the OECD’s quality of care indicators to provide an in-depth look at the quality of care within Canada’s health care system, compared with systems in other countries. These comparisons can help us identify best performers and determine benchmarks for quality improvement.

Benchmarking Canada’s Health System: International Comparisons (2013)

The OECD compares member countries on a number of key health indicators in its biennial report Health at a Glance 2013. This CIHI Analysis in Brief focuses on the Canadian results for a selection of OECD indicators and identifies areas where Canada performs well and where it can improve. As an illustration of the relationships among indicators, Canada’s performance on lung cancer mortality is explored.

Learning From the Best: Benchmarking Canada’s Health System (2011)

This Analysis in Brief, the first in the international comparisons series, examines Canadians’ health status, non-medical determinants of health, quality of care and access to care. It is based on international results that appeared in the OECD’s Health at a Glance 2011, which provided statistics and indicators for comparing health systems across its 34 member countries.


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