The Measurement of Output and Productivity in the Health Care Sector in Canada: An Overview
To achieve efficient allocation of resources in the health care sector, accurate measures of health care output and productivity are essential. According to official estimates of productivity produced by Statistics Canada, labour productivity in the business sector of the health care (excluding hospitals) and social assistance industry declined 0.28 per cent per year between 1994 and 2003. Estimates of productivity produced by the CSLS, based on official Statistics Canada employment and real GDP figures, show that labour productivity in the health care and social assistance industry declined by 0.69 per cent per year between 1987 and 2006. It is widely recognized that official output and productivity figures may seriously underestimate the true contribution of the health care sector to real output, and more importantly to the economic well-being of Canadians. Alternative approaches show that price indices for health care output may be overestimated and, therefore, quality improvements may not be accurately captured by estimates of real health care output. More resources are needed to further investigate the alternative approaches discussed in this report and develop better output measures that adjust for outcomes directly related to health care spending.
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