Ontario’s “super health agency” must be open

Yesterday, The Star reported that the Ontario government is considering a plan to consolidate more than twenty healthcare agencies into one “super agency”. The goal would be improving the integration of health services while trimming a bloated bureaucracy. One of the agencies under review is Health Quality Ontario (HQO).

Recently, I expressed concern about HQO’s lack of transparency about its own performance. Access to over 90% of HQO-related datasets in Ontario’s Open Data Catalogue has, in fact, been restricted. These datasets include:

  • Tendered purchases
  • Surveys of customer satisfaction, employee engagement, feedback, etc.
  • Surveys of how Board meetings are conducted, including content, presentation, and areas for improvement
  • Newsletter metrics
  • Website analytics
  • Social media metrics
  • Inquiries and service requests to the IT help desk

I don’t mean to imply that HQO doesn’t contribute to improving the quality of health services in Ontario (it does) or that HQO is solely responsible for deciding whether a particular dataset is closed to the public (it’s not). But it’s ironic – and unacceptable – that there’s so little information available publicly about HQO’s own quality of service.

Any “super health agency” should commit to be open and accountable for its own performance – not just for the performance of others.