Who is the HQCA?

The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) is an independent provincial agency that pursues opportunities to improve patient safety and health service quality for Albertans. We gather and analyze information, monitor the healthcare system, and collaborate with Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and health professions, academia, and other stakeholders to translate knowledge into practical improvements to health service quality and patient safety in the healthcare system.

What is the FOCUS on Emergency Departments website?

FOCUS stands for “Fostering Open Conversations that Unleash Solutions”. This FOCUS on Emergency Departments website is the first of its kind published by the HQCA and was designed to give healthcare providers, decision-makers and the public the information they need to have important conversations. These conversations will be started based on analyzing the information provided about patients’ experiences at these emergency departments and can lead to quality improvement and a better healthcare system for Alberta.

Does the HQCA provide info about other healthcare settings?

Additional areas of care, such as primary healthcare and continuing care will be profiled on this FOCUS website in the future. The HQCA currently provides information about other healthcare settings through surveys, studies, and reviews which are available on the main HQCA website www.hqca.ca

Are all emergency departments in Alberta included on the website?

No, this website focuses on Alberta’s 16 busiest emergency departments. Not all emergency departments in Alberta collect consistent information so that we can report accurately across all hospitals. We selected these 16 emergency departments because they are historically characterised as having the highest-volumes. They include:

Large Urban – Trauma

  • Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary
  • Royal Alexandra Hospital, Edmonton
  • University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton

Large Urban

  • Grey Nuns Community Hospital, Edmonton
  • Misericordia Community Hospital, Edmonton
  • Peter Lougheed Centre, Calgary
  • Rockyview General Hospital, Calgary
  • South Health Campus, Calgary

Medium Urban

  • Chinook Regional Hospital, Lethbridge
  • Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, Medicine Hat
  • Northern Lights Regional Health, Fort McMurray
  • Queen Elizabeth II, Grande Prairie
  • Red Deer Regional Hospital, Red Deer
  • Sturgeon Community Hospital, St. Albert


  • Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary
  • Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton

How can I use the information on the website?

The website presents 18 measures in the form of interactive charts. The key measures were determined through robust stakeholder consultations to ensure they were meaningful in determining overall patient experience and could be used to help make improvements. The interactive charts allow you to see emergency department patient experience information (like wait times) over periods of time and allow you to compare similar emergency departments to one another. By looking at the charts, you may notice, for example, trends or spikes over time or that one site consistently performs better. You can then start the conversation about why you are seeing these results at some facilities but not others, and what might be affecting them. On the website, beside each chart there are prompting questions that you may want to ask. Under each chart there is more detailed information about the chart being looked at.

Why can’t I compare all hospitals to one another?

For most of the charts, the hospitals are grouped so that you are comparing “apples to apples.” Not all emergency departments deliver the same level of care, and serve the same patient populations. This is why we display the information by “Hospital Type”. This ensures that when you are comparing hospitals you are looking at similar facilities that would be subject to similar demands, for example, Large Urban Trauma vs. other Large Urban Trauma hospitals and Children’s vs. Children’s hospitals. For some charts, such as alternate level of care (ALC) percentage, it is relevant and practical to compare the hospitals in a city, because this may lead to conversations about continuing care bed availability and other care options that would impact a hospitals ALC percentage.

How are the charts linked to one another?

Charts that display information that relates to wait times

  • Patient time to see an emergency doctor
  • Patient emergency department total length of stay (LOS)
  • Length of time emergency department patients wait for a hospital bed after a decision to admit
  • Time for X-ray completion
  • Time waiting for specialist/admitting doctor opinion

Charts that display information that relates to patient movement within the emergency room or the hospital, or processes within the hospital.

  • Hospital patients who require an alternate level of care
  • Length of patient hospital stay compared to Canadian average
  • Patients who left without being seen (LWBS) by an emergency department doctor
  • Patients who returned to the emergency department within 72 hours
  • Patients waiting in the emergency department for a hospital bed
  • Hospital occupancy

Charts that display information that relates to patient experience

  • Patient experience with staff introductions
  • Patient experience with communication about follow-up care
  • Patient experience with help for pain
  • Overall rating of care
  • Overall patient experience with emergency department communication
  • Communication with patient about possible side effects of medicines
  • Patient reason for emergency department visit

Why is patient experience important to overall health system quality?

We know, from survey work and research, that the things that patients encounter, undergo, and experience throughout their healthcare journey impacts how they feel about their overall experience of care.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has developed the Triple AIM Framework to describe an approach for optimizing health system performance. This framework has three components: (1) Experience of Care, (2) Population Health, (3) Per Capita Cost. The HQCA’s survey and AHS administrative data used throughout this website comprise the patient experience element for emergency departments in Alberta and can be used in working towards addressing the Triple Aim, and improving the health system.