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Picture two relatively healthy female patients, both in their 50s. Neither “Mrs. Smith” nor “Mrs. Johnson” has a family history of breast cancer or any other significant risk factor for this disease. Each woman has been a patient at the same family practice and, over time, each has established a positive, trusting relationship with their doctor, whom we’ll call “Dr. Williams.”

During separate health visits, Williams takes the opportunity to discuss the benefits and downsides of mammography for breast cancer screening. But in the end, Smith schedules a mammogram, while Johnson does not.

Did Williams provide better quality care to Smith?

These kinds of measurable indicators of primary care performance are a core component of the Ontario government’s controversial Patients First bill, reintroduced on October 6.

Most would agree that understanding primary care performance is an important undertaking. Asking these kinds of questions helps providers know if they’re doing a good job, where deficiencies exist and where best to focus their improvement efforts. They help researchers advance our understanding of the best way to deliver services. They help those paying for care, including governments, know whether they’re facilitating beneficial services while reaping efficiencies and saving costs.

And for patients, the focus of all these efforts, they help determine whether the care they receive is consistent with the highest quality evidence available….

Continue reading: Let’s not confuse measurable with meaningful in primary care

Author

PV Mayer

Dr. Perry Mayer is the Medical Director of The Mayer Institute (TMI), a center of excellence in the treatment of the diabetic foot. He received his undergraduate degree from Queen’s University, Kingston and medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

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