Alberta's health-care performance to be measured in new way

Alberta Health Services is changing the way it measures and reports its performance to the public.

Province creates new reporting system that focuses on 16 areas

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne had asked Alberta Health Services to review the performance measures used to assess the province's health-care system last fall. (CBC)

Alberta Health Services is changing the way it measures and reports its performance to the public.

Officials say it better reflects how the system is doing overall, but critics aren't so sure.

"While Alberta is actually leading the country in many areas, such as preventing deaths from heart attacks and ensuring people don’t acquire infections in hospitals, we know there is more work to be done," said Health Minister Fred Horne in a release.

The new reporting system focuses on 16 areas, including length of stay in emergency rooms and hospital-acquired infections, and sets out targets for the next two years. 

AHS has also changed how it calculates ER waits — one of the most controversial statistics.

The new numbers show 50 per cent of patients wait 8.7 hours or less before being admitted — the target is 8.2 hours.

AHS interim president Brenda Huband says the changes were made in consultation with doctors. 

Liberals say it's a political move

"They do actually give us more accountability because they have national comparators where the language is the same, which makes for easier tracking and looking at our performance against other similar organizations."

Alberta Liberal Party Leader Raj Sherman, who is also a doctor by trade, calls it a political move. 

"When you report just on averages it hides the failures of the system," he said. 

Another difference is the new reporting system doesn't outline wait times and targets for specific surgeries the way the old quarterly report did.

Officials say they're planning to make that information available in the future through a link in the online report.

It will also include breakdowns by zone and by hospital in some cases. The report is expected to be updated every six months.

The full performance report is below. On mobile? Click here.

With files from CBC's Jennifer Lee