Building a Connected Public Health Care System for the Patient

28 February, 2019, 12:33 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Ford government introducing legislation to form super agency called 'Ontario Health'

Elliott said the government will begin creating Ontario Health this spring but said the changes will not happen overnight.

As expected, the minister also confirmed that a new superagency, Ontario Health, would absorb the functions of six health-care agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario, and 14 local health integration networks (LHINs), the organizations that now oversee home care and manage the waiting lists for nursing homes.

It will combine 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and merge them with six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario.

The North East Local Health Integration Network's 2018-2019 business plan stated it had 166 service agreements, of which 33 were with long-term care homes, worth $1.4 billion a year. Some administrative jobs were lost in the process, but it meant the LHIN took on hundreds of people in what is now called its home and community care branch. "Health care providers are overstretched, and the high-quality care Ontarians have come to expect is at risk", it continued.

"That is something we can't answer right now because of the fact that it is going to be up to the local Ontario health teams to structure the care that's going to be needed in that local area", said Elliott when pressed by reporters Tuesday morning.

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"We are past the point of policy tinkering around the edges that simply shifts capacity problems from one end of the system to the other", her provided written remarks read.

Elliot stated patients will still choose who provides their care and more choices will be available through technology - such as offering patients access to electronic health records and providing virtual care options. "I think if we're going to make a massive change to health care, we need to make sure those people who work in the health-care system, everybody from our nurses and doctors to administrators and maintenance people have to be able to look at this and have a say". These teams would support continuous access to care and smooth transitions as patients move between one provider to another, and receive care in different locations or health care settings.

The South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) - the regional agency that allocates health care dollars in much of Southwestern Ontario from Lake Erie to Tobermory - would be caught up in the provincial agency amalgamation, as will its counterpart in Sarnia-Lambton and Windsor-Essex, the Erie St. Clair LHIN. "Tell us what and why and when and with how much and then hold us to account". "And we stack up as probably the most efficient health care organization in the world based on that OHA report". Health care providers can participate in a readiness assessment process to become an Ontario Health Team in their specific geographical area. The province noted that there are multiple provincial agencies that offer clinical guidance, evaluation, public information and health sector analysis and some of their work is being duplicated.

The change is expected to reduce duplication of senior management and office support.

The government will introduce legislation that, if passed, will consolidate multiple health care agencies and organizations within a single agency - Ontario Health. Whereas, home care, from a funding perspective, is probably the most underdeveloped part of the health-care system. "Theoretically I would have access to one patient record so there would be no delay in patient care in that regard", said Sharad Rai, the president of the London and District Academy of Medicine. The creation of a permanent Council will ensure the government partners with patients to gain critical insights into how they experience the health care system and reflect those insights in decision making. "Realistically, I'd like the Ontario health system to get better".

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