By: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate


SFU researcher looks at ways to improve hospital funding

Can changing the way hospitals are funded lead to better care? How can it be done?

Karen Palmer, a SFU health sciences adjunct professor and her team of researchers at the Women’s College Hospital’s Institute for Health Solutions and Virtual Care in Toronto looked at the implications and possibility of using Quality Based Procedures (QBPs) to create “patient-based” funding to replace fixed global budgets.

The team believes QBPs will allow healthcare professionals to provide quality care for a fixed price and encourage more efficient use of resources. Under these procedures, hospitals are paid a set price per episode of care depending on diagnoses or procedures done to cover each patient visit. Specific diagnoses and procedures are accompanied with evidence-based care guidelines.

Implementing funding reform may be challenging, however. The study showed that Ontario’s healthcare leaders did not have common goals for reforming hospital funding. Policy tended to change over time without being carried out due to long implementation time, staff turnover, and the inconsistency of messaging.

Palmer said that discrepancies over the understanding of QBP’s goals and procedure makes policy implementation even harder.

She advocates for Canadian hospitals reforming how funding is implemented through more transparent, collaborative, and intentional methods.


Examining autism spectrum disorder prevalence in BC Indigenous children

SFU psychology professor Grace Iarocci and Romona Baxter from the Nzen’man’ Child and Family Development Centre are heading a new study to allow Indigenous peoples with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their communities and families to voice their stories.

The project, titled “Autism and Aboriginal families: Bridging the cultural gap through collective dialogue,” will see researchers examine challenges experienced by the Nlaka’pamux Nation, which lives around the Merritt area.

Researchers will hold a two-day “knowledge gathering event” for the families of children with ASD. The event will allow the families to access “culturally appropriate information” on ASD, including provincial resources. Discussion groups will also be conducted on the topic of the challenges and needs of Indigenous families navigating ASD to look for areas in which research can help create improvements.

The precise prevalence of ASD among Indigenous children in Canada is unknown, but it is thought to be of comparable levels to that of non-Indigenous children in BC.