Funding health care: Strategies for improving access, continuity and efficiency

In Canada, health system funding has reached a crisis point. Not only are health care costs continuing to rise, but there are increasing conflicts about how these funds are allocated. Provinces are exploring different policies to improve the safety, efficiency, and efficacy of care, including patient-based payment for hospitals to increase 'volume' of hospital care, targeted pay-for-performance programs to reduce wait times, and alternative payment plans for physicians. While these funding policies are designed to change the incentives of providers and health care organizations, there are few methods to measure whether these policies are actually leading to health system improvements.

Dr. Jason Sutherland's applied research program examines the system-level and patient-level effects of new and existing funding policies. This program of research will help measure how health system expenditures are improving the health of BC’s residents, improving co-ordination between settings, and improving the quality of care. His work will assist policy- and decision-makers to interpret the complex relationships between health funding policies, health expenditures, utilization, gain in health, and health outcomes. This program of health services research has the potential to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of British Columbia's, and Canada's, health care system. By understanding how policy-makers’ decisions are impacting the health care residents receive, Canada's health system decision-makers will be more empowered to make the best decisions.