International comparisons help influence health policy changes

Having watched the Rio Olympic Games this summer, it seems natural to rate Canada’s performance against that of other countries. We’ve seen how Canada ranked in volleyball, swimming and soccer, but how about on health?

CIHI’s data collection and analysis allows Canada’s health care systems to be contrasted with those of similar countries. International comparisons provide provincial and territorial governments with a broader context for benchmarking performance and peer learning. Health indicators that provide information about smoking rates, vegetable consumption, wait times and the number of deaths due to illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and stroke help to determine where Canada fits into the international picture.

We have conducted many analyses comparing Canada’s performance with that of other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries that have a similar health system and funding model. These comparisons help identify areas for improvement, which in turn influences policy changes.

We have worked with the OECD for many years and lend our support on various committees and ad hoc groups. The data we submit to the OECD is used in both CIHI and international reports.

How does Canada compare?

Find answers in our reports and by using some of our e-tools:

In early 2017, we will be releasing a report on how patient experience compares internationally, based on results from The Commonwealth Fund’s 2016 International Health Policy Survey of the general population.

Our reports help us to learn how health outcomes have changed over time (from 1960 to 2010) in Canada relative to other countries. A new report to be released this fall examines Canada’s international performance on premature mortality, measured as potential years of life lost.

CIHI also shows how Canada’s health spending compares with that in other OECD countries in our annual National Health Expenditure Trends report.

CIHI works with several other international organizations, including The Commonwealth Fund, Pan American Health Organization and interRAI, and our international presence has always played a critical role in the development of methodologies and data standards. Recently, CIHI expanded the scope of our international activities to include more comprehensive data collection, analysis and reporting of comparable performance measures. This aligns with stakeholders’ desire to compare the performance of their health systems not just within Canada, but with peer countries.

We are committed to expanding our analytical tools to support health system measurement in Canada and around the world. And we will continue to work with international organizations to ensure accurate health comparisons and analysis.