The government agency that measures the quality of Ontario’s health care system can now undertake revenue-generating activities, according to an order from Ontario’s cabinet.
Health Quality Ontario (HQO), created in 2005, measures and reports on the health care system's performance and patient outcomes. It keeps track of indicators of the health of the health-care system such as falls in long-term care homes, distress among unpaid caregivers of home care patients and surgery wait times.
Until recently, HQO was prohibited from raising revenue from sources other than the Ministry of Health. On Aug. 31, cabinet approved an order-in-council allowing HQO to sell and collect revenue in connection with quality-improvement-related research and evaluation, joint research with other publicly funded organizations and its conference and education activities, subject to certain conditions.
“It’s in keeping with many other agencies, hospitals and government, to be able to do some cost recovery activities,” Dr. Joshua Tepper, president and CEO of Health Quality Ontario told QP Briefing.
However, Tepper said that doesn’t mean selling data it collects on Ontarians’ health care system.
“We have no plans at all to monetize the information we hold,” he said. “I want to be absolutely clear on that, we have no plans at all to monetize the data we are holding.”
Health Quality Ontario publishes data and reports freely on its website, he added.
Tepper said it was too early yet to say how the revenue-raising power will be used and it doesn’t have any immediate plans to do so — but said it could be used, for example, to collect fees for conferences it holds, or to partner with another organization on a research grant.
"One potential example could be that if there are a number of organizations collectively applying for and receive a research grant, Health Quality Ontario may able to receive a small amount of funds from that grant to help off-set clerical support for participating in the research project," Tepper said.
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication with more detail from Health Quality Ontario on how the new permission given by the order-in-council may be used.
(File photo of Dr. Joshua Tepper by Nick Kozak/For Torstar)