Non-Profit Community-Based Specialty Clinics in Ontario
Ontario is establishing new community-based specialty clinics offering select OHIP-insured, low-risk routine procedures. These clinics will focus on providing high volume services, such as cataract and colonoscopy procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay. Moving low-risk routine procedures from hospitals to community specialty clinics will help improve the overall patient experience while resulting in better value for taxpayers.
Specialty clinics will work closely with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and hospitals and operate under existing legislation and quality assurance frameworks to ensure oversight and accountability.
Why Community-Based Specialty Clinics?
In January 2012, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care released Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care. A key commitment of the plan is to provide access to non-profit community-based specialty clinics to help more patients receive the most appropriate care in the most appropriate place.
In February 2012, the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services' report (the Drummond Report) recommended shifting patients from acute care to community care settings, where appropriate. Evidence has shown that procedures performed in non-profit community-based specialty clinics can be provided at the same high quality found in an acute-care hospital setting but at a lower cost.
Non-profit community-based health care models have already been serving Ontarians for more than 20 years. Since 2006, the Kensington Eye Institute in Toronto has successfully used state of the art equipment to reduce average wait times for cataract surgery below the provincial target of 182 days. In 2012, over 1,400 cataract surgeries were transferred to the clinic from four downtown hospitals.
The shift of routine procedures to non-profit specialty clinics will be gradual, informed by the best clinical evidence and based on community needs with the support from local hospitals and LHINs.
In early 2014, Ontario will launch an initial call for applications. Interested health care providers will have 60 days to make a submission to LHINs that plan to establish new clinics. LHINs will review applications within 60 days and will submit their suggestions to the government for review within 45 days. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is expected to notify successful applicants in the summer of 2014.
The government will also continue to work closely with Cancer Care Ontario to implement the next focus for the strategy -- moving low-risk colonoscopy procedures out of hospitals and into specialty clinics. The first colonoscopy clinics are expected to open in 2014 with further clinics rolling out in 2015. Applications for this process will be available in spring 2014. Interested applicants will also have 60 days to make a submission to the LHIN. The LHIN will review applications within 60 days and submit to Cancer Care Ontario for their review within 45 days. Cancer Care Ontario is expected to notify successful applicants in the Fall of 2014.
Information concerning the applications process, including the policy guide and FAQs, is available at www.ontario.ca/specialtyclinics.