Because the health status of a population does not usually respond immediately to interventions, whether social or medical, the ability to analyze change over time is important. Therefore, patterns of change and stability in health status and health care use of Manitoba residents during a 3-year period from 1990 to 1992 were analyzed using the Population-based Health Information System. This article presents summary findings and discusses methodological and policy issues arising from the analyses. A small but significant decrease in premature mortality (the primary health status indicator) was observed in most regions of the province, but two remote, northern regions, those whose residents scored at high socioeconomic risk, remained distinguished for their poor health status. These "poor health" regions also had the highest contact rates with primary caregivers, raising questions about the role of the health care system in improving the health of the population. A persistent increase in surgery was observed in several regions, led by increases in outpatient surgery over and above increases in the elderly population and beyond substitution for inpatient procedures. This trend (not obvious before these analyses) is important as hospitals move to expand their outpatient facilities in response to restraints on inpatient care.