More funding directed to patients: AHS review

Internal savings will allow more money to be directed to patients and front-line care, free up funds for more surgeries to cut growing wait times

The Alberta Health Services review – the first in 10 years since Alberta Health Services was formed – contains 57 recommendations and 72 savings opportunities to improve the quality and long-term sustainability of health services.

The report identifies a range of long-term savings initiatives with the potential to save between $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion annually.

“The AHS review is a key commitment to Albertans, and I’m very excited about moving forward with implementation,” said Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health.

“Every dollar we save will be put right back into the health system to deliver on our promise to improve access and make the system work better for patients. It’s about freeing up administrative resources so we can spend more directly on Albertans’ health care.”

The recommendations address four key areas: people, clinical services, non-clinical services and governance. The government accepts the report, with two important exceptions: there will be no hospital closures or consolidation of urban trauma centres.

Stakeholder input into the review process far exceeded any similar projects that Ernst & Young LLP (EY) has conducted across Canada. Staff engagement included feedback from about 1,200 physicians, 27,000 front-line staff and 4,200 AHS leaders.  

Over the next 100 days, AHS will engage staff and clinical leaders as it develops a long-term implementation plan.

“AHS takes its responsibilities as fiscal stewards of taxpayer dollars seriously,” said David Weyant, board chair, Alberta Health Services.

“We will continue to find efficiencies and increase outcomes for Albertans. This report is a tool that can help us do that. Implementing many of the opportunities will take time and resources – including financial resources. The board has full confidence in the AHS team, and we will do this work in partnership with all Albertans, including physicians, staff, communities, patients and their families.”

Engagement as part of the review included about 32,500 AHS staff and physician survey responses, 1,000 emails from Albertans and more than 75 health system stakeholder engagement sessions.

AHS has about 102,000 direct employees and a budget of $15.4 billion. An overwhelming 90 per cent of AHS staff survey respondents agreed that protecting and strengthening the sustainability of Alberta’s health system should be a key AHS priority. The cost of the contract with EY to conduct the review was just over $2 million.

EY was mandated to investigate opportunities to reduce costs and improve performance by:

  • examining AHS’s structure and organization
  • evaluating AHS programs, services and policies
  • identifying ways to make AHS operations more responsive to the front lines and Albertans
  • comparing AHS to other provinces’ health systems and best practices
  • gathering input from employees, physicians and the pub

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