interRAI: Sharing a common language for clinical concepts and instruments

Many of us have a family member with complex medical and care needs. These needs may require home care services, mental health care or placement in a long-term care home. Several different specialists and providers may be required to provide the necessary care. Maybe some of this care involves visiting several different institutions. If each institution had its own assessment tools, would your loved one’s care needs be accurately shared between them? How would this be possible across different health care organizations, each with its own set of standards and interpretations?

Sharing a common language

Standardization across the health care continuum is the answer. The organizations would all have to share a common language — to refer to the same clinical concepts in the same way across instruments. Enter interRAI, a not-for-profit collaborative network of researchers in more than 30 countries committed to improving care for persons who are disabled or living with medically complex conditions. The network strives to promote evidence-informed clinical practice and policy decision-making through the collection and interpretation of high-quality data about the characteristics and outcomes of persons who receive care across a variety of health settings.

Using common measures enables clinicians and providers in different care settings to improve coordination of care and to integrate care and supports for each individual. The same information can then be aggregated for use at the organization and system levels to support quality improvement and planning. interRAI has developed an innovative suite of assessment instruments, a number of which now have official status as Canadian Approved Standards. The instruments are designed to work together across the health care continuum to form an integrated health information system. And that’s good news for decision-makers — and those receiving care — across the health system.

CIHI has been supporting several of these instruments for 20 years and has adapted several of them for use in health care settings throughout Canada, such as home care, long-term care and mental health care.

Joining the world stage

interRAI fellows and clinicians from around the globe will be gathering in Toronto from April 11 to 14, 2016, to attend the very first World interRAI Conference. These experts and care providers will discuss and collaborate and share insights on how to best use interRAI instruments to create a better health care continuum — allowing our Canadian participants to stand on the world stage and showcase their expertise and experiences as well.

CIHI staff will be presenting on the following topics, featuring the use of RAI data:

  • Advance directives in long-term care
  • Cost of a standard resident day in long-term care
  • CIHI’s population grouper
  • Risk factors associated with the fear of falling
  • Public reporting of long-term care indicators
  • Case mix in long-term care and mental health care
  • Video-based RAI eLearning

Supporting the flow of data

Inspired by its work with interRAI and other key partners, CIHI continues to develop innovative ways to share the importance of using health data for informed decision-making.

Check out our recent video Following the Flow of Health Care Data, which introduces Sam, a widower, whose home care services are supported in part by the RAI-HC© assessment tool. We’ll see much more of Sam and his journey through the health system at this year’s conference, where he’ll play a key role in demonstrating the use and effectiveness of standardized health information. We hope you’ll join us!