Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 4(2) December 2000 : 53-53.doi:10.12927/hcq.2000.20564

Commentary: The Promise of Better Care

Colleen J. Maxwell

Ensuring that vulnerable patient groups, such as frail seniors and persons with psychiatric conditions, have equitable access to quality health and social services, while avoiding inappropriate utilization and excessive costs, have become increasingly important public health goals across Canada. As with other healthcare settings, a prerequisite for the ongoing evaluation of the quality, appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of mental health services is the availability of standardized, comprehensive and relevant patient-specific assessment data collected on a longitudinal basis. The initiative to develop such an assessment instrument for adult in-patient psychiatric settings, termed the Resident Assessment Instrument - Mental Health (RAI-MH), reported in the article by Hirdes et al. represents a significant contribution towards enhancing our understanding of the complex clinical and social needs of this patient population. The RAI-MH includes a minimum data set as well as specific care planning guidelines. It represents one of a series of resident assessment instruments (RAIs) being developed to provide standardized patient-specific data across acute and continuing care settings for frail, disabled seniors. An important strength of the RAIMH (as with the other RAIs) is the ability to use the data from a single assessment for multiple applications, namely, care planning, case-mix based funding allocation and the monitoring of quality of care. Common data elements provided by this family of instruments should ensure comprehensive, standardized assessments across settings, reduce the burden of assessment on both patients and staff, improve communication among care providers and allow for an integrated health information system.



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