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Resource for Indicator Standards

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Resource for Indicator Standards (RIS)?

The Resource for Indicator Standards (RIS) is an online catalogue of the technical documentation for health care indicators that are used by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). Indicators in RIS are documented in a standard way to promote appropriate use, comparison, and analysis.

Indicators contained in current MOHLTC agreements/initiatives are sorted alphabetically and by agreement/initiative. Archived indicators (i.e. those no longer used in a MOHLTC agreement/initiative) are sorted alphabetically.

What is an indicator?

Indicators are measures constructed to be comparable over time and across jurisdictions. Indicators measure important phenomena that have broader interpretation than the specific measure, such as how well a system is performing.

For example, visits to emergency departments for conditions that could be managed in primary care settings is an indicator of access to primary care. This indicator does more than simply tell us about utilization of emergency care; it provides insight into whether there is appropriate and timely access to family physicians, nurse practitioners, and other primary care providers.
For further information, see The Health Planner’s Toolkit. Module 3, Evidence-Based Planning.

Who should use RIS?

RIS is useful for anyone who wants to understand how MOHLTC calculates its indicators. RIS is a useful reference for organizations that are developing their own indicators and would like to review indicators being used in Ontario’s health system.

Are the indicators in RIS the only indicators for the entire health care system?

No. RIS focuses on health care indicators that are part of current MOHLTC agreements/initiatives. There are many other health care indicators used by other organizations. Some of these indicators can be found under Other Resources on this website.

If you have further questions about the methodologies documented in RIS, please contact us.

Can I use the RIS template to document indicators produced by my organization?

You are welcome to use the RIS template to document your own indicators, and can download a blank template from our website.

How do I search for an indicator on the RIS website?

RIS indicators are available to you on this website, sorted alphabetically and by agreement/initiative.

If you cannot find an indicator used by MOHLTC or LHINs, it may be archived (i.e., because it is no longer included in a MOHLTC agreement/initiative). Archived indicators are sorted alphabetically.

The search tab enables a quick search by words in the RIS indicator title or by MOHLTC agreement/initiative.

Why does the methodology documented in the RIS document sometimes differ from the methodology used by other organizations?

Methods for calculating indicators vary depending on multiple factors, including the purpose of the indicator, the best available data for the indicator, and the target audience. The methodologies presented in RIS are used by MOHLTC and by LHINs.

If you have further questions about the methodologies documented in RIS, please contact us.

What does the Archived Indicators section contain?

Indicators that are no longer included in MOHLTC agreements/initiatives, but had RIS documentation posted on the RIS website in the past, can be found in the Archive tab of this site.

Archived indicators are sorted alphabetically.

Why do methodology details in RIS documents sometimes differ from those provided in MOHLTC agreement/initiative documents?

Methodology specifics provided in RIS documents may sometimes differ from those provided in MOHLTC agreement/initiative documents because RIS documents are revised to include enough detail to enable users who are familiar with the data and with conducting data analysis to reproduce the results.

Where can I find indicator documentation for indicators that were posted on the RIS website in the past?

RIS indicator documentation for indicators not included in current MOHLTC agreements/initiatives, but was posted on the RIS website when it was initially launched in 2010 can be found in the Archive tab of this site.

Why is there no methodology in the RIS document for some indicators?

Indicators that are calculated by groups or organizations other than the Health Analytics Branch, MOHLTC, do not have the methodology provided in the RIS document. If you need the methodology, please contact us.

How often are RIS indicator documents reviewed and updated?

All RIS indicators documents are reviewed and updated annually to ensure ongoing accuracy, consistency and applicability. However, RIS documentation will be updated ad hoc if the indicator methodology is revised. 

For More Information

Send your questions, concerns, and feedback to RIS@Ontario.ca

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