Nova Scotia

New website provides regular performance updates on Nova Scotia health-care system

A virtual dashboard unveiled Friday contains information on a variety of aspects of the health-care system, including ambulance response and off-load times, hospital capacity and performance, and wait-lists for continuing care.

'We want Nova Scotians to see where we are,' says Health Minister Michelle Thompson

Health Minister Michelle Thompson says having regular data reporting means the public does not have to take the government's word for how the health-care system is performing. (CBC)

Nova Scotians now have a regular window into the performance of the province's health-care system.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson unveiled a new website with a virtual dashboard on Friday that contains information on a variety of aspects of the system, including ambulance response and off-load times, hospital capacity and performance, and wait-lists for continuing care. There is also information about recruitment numbers and employee satisfaction levels.

The information, which was previously available internally, can be broken down by health zone and specific hospitals, and will be updated daily, weekly, quarterly or yearly, depending on the field.

"This is our first shot at it. It may not be perfect, but I think sometimes perfection is the thief of progress," Thompson told reporters in Halifax during a news conference.

"We have to put these metrics out, we have to see if they resonate with Nova Scotians and we have to move towards those targets."

A need for transparency

The release of the website follows the publication in the spring of the government's plan to fix health care. That plan, which focuses on six aspects of the system, was heavily touted before its release, but ultimately criticized for lacking specific details.

Thompson said the information on the website will allow the public to understand what's happening within the system and monitor the government's progress in achieving the Tory campaign promise to fix health care. That means the public won't have to take the word of health or elected officials as to how things are going, she said.

"We will be as open and transparent about the problems as we are with the actions that we're going to take to address them, and that's what sharing data is all about."

The minister, a registered nurse by training, said the publication of the information is also a validation of the lived experience of health-care workers and what they contend with each day at work.

"We want Nova Scotians to see where we are, we want health-care workers to see where we are, and we want to see that our actions are actually making improvements as we move along," she said.

"There may be blips — we may go ahead and move back. We have to appreciate and accept that, but we want people to understand that there is a sustained and focused effort to improve health care."

Thompson said no element of the work can be improved in isolation from another, but she pointed to human resources and stabilizing the health-care workforce as a key step in making improvements throughout the system. Work continues on a health human resources plan that considers the needs of the entire system, said Thompson.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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