01/22/2013 01:56 EST | Updated 03/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Alberta Health Survey Reports Two-Thirds Of Patients Satisfied With Level Of Service


EDMONTON - A survey suggests that two out of every three Albertans are happy with their health care, but they aren't getting bang for their buck.

The Health Quality Council says a survey of 4,800 patients or their families last year indicated 64 per cent were satisfied with their level of care.

That's up slightly from 62 per cent in 2010, but represents a 12 percentage point jump from the 52 per cent who said they were happy in 2004, council CEO Dr. John Cowell told a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday.

However Cowell noted the increase in the amount of money being invested in health care during the last decade and the boost in patient happiness don't correspond. He said per capita spending on health has gone from $3,994 in 2003 to a forecast of $6,570 per capita in 2011, for a 64 per cent increase.

"If you want to stand back from this and say, 'We've been spending more and more money. Would we like to have seen perhaps better improvement in (patient) satisfaction?' I think the big strategists and the big thinkers and the funders might say 'yes,'" Cowell said.

Cowell said the council can't say for sure how Alberta Health Services should redirect its money to improve patient satisfaction. But he noted that patients felt as though doctors and specialists weren't talking to one another and too much care was happening in administrative silos.

Only 49 per cent of those surveyed approved of how health care professionals co-ordinated their care efforts in 2012.

"If you're going to spend large sums of money, and you want to improve it, well then you better focus your money and your attention on improving co-ordination of efforts," said Cowell.

He said while co-ordination of care has been cited as a key measure of health care, there hasn't been any improvement in surveys since 2003.

Among other findings:

— Fifty-one per cent reported ease of access to health services.

— Seventy-seven per cent rated the quality of their care as good or excellent.

— Fifty-nine per cent were happy with care they received in emergency departments.

— Eighty-four per cent were satisfied with their family doctors and 80 per cent were pleased with the level of specialist care.

— Eleven per cent said they or a member of their family had been harmed during care in 2012, up from nine per cent in previous years.

— Twenty-eight per cent of Albertans have never had a flu shot.

Also on HuffPost