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Building a Connected Public Health Care System for the Patient

Backgrounder

Building a Connected Public Health Care System for the Patient

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontario has world-class health care services provided by some of the best health care workers. However, over time the province's health system has become fractured and disconnected, and as a result patients have been left to suffer on wait lists and navigate the system on their own. The government is making necessary changes now to address these issues and build a connected, sustainable public health care system that will improve access to care and centre it on the needs of the patient. 

The government is transforming the public health care system to improve patient experience and strengthen local services.This means that patients and families will have access to better and more connected services, and will wait less for these services. They will not have to stay in beds in hospital hallways or be left to navigate between providers on their own.

When care is funded in silos, care ends up being delivered in silos. When providers are asked to partner to work together as one connected team, care will be integrated. Integrated care looks at the whole person, not just the illness. It means patients and their caregivers will have someone to call to help them navigate the system, to answer questions and to understand their circumstances. Health care providers will be accountable for the patients they serve and will partner to effectively coordinate their care.

Ontario Health Teams

Ontario Health Teams are a new way of organizing and delivering services for patients. Local health care providers will be empowered to work as a connected team, taking on the work of easing transitions for patients across the continuum of care. Ontario Health Teams will be responsible for delivering all of the care for their patients, understanding  their health care history and needs, and directly connecting them to the different types of care they need.  

Patients would have help in navigating the public health care system 24/7. 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. Over time, Ontario Health Teams would provide seamless access to various types of health services, which could include:

  • Primary care
  • Hospitals
  • Home and community care
  • Palliative care
  • Residential long-term care
  • Mental health and addictions

Ontario Health Teams will be funded and held accountable for improving patient experience and people's health.

As Ontario Health Teams are established, people will continue to be able to choose who provides their care and will have more care choices available through technology. With safeguards in place to protect personal health information, patients will also have an option to securely access digital health services, such as having access to their electronic health records and virtual care options for patients.

Care providers will also benefit from the expansion of digital tools, enabling them to more quickly and comprehensively access the information they need, such as specialist advice and clinical supports.

Ontario Health Teams will be established in phases across the province. More information on how providers can become an Ontario Health Team will be made available in early March. Ontario Health Teams will focus on existing local health care providers partnering or working together to provide coordinated care, or teams of providers serving a specialized patient population such as specialty pediatric or patients with complex health needs. Health care providers can participate in  a readiness assessment process to become  an Ontario Health Team in their specific geographical area.  There will be an ongoing process to support interested groups to become an Ontario Health Team.

Ontario Health

There are  multiple provincial agencies that offer clinical guidance, evaluation, public information and health sector analysis. Many of these agencies have established world-class standards that the government is seeking to replicate and amplify across the health system. Each of these agencies also has a full senior management team and back office support, and over time some of this work has become duplicative. To achieve true integrated and coordinated care, Ontario is proposing to streamline the important work of these health agencies so  it can be performed more effectively and collaboratively, provide more value for tax dollars and enable people to work together instead of in silos.

The government will introduce legislation that, if passed, will consolidate multiple health care agencies and organizations within a single agency - Ontario Health. Ontario Health will oversee health care delivery,and  improve clinical guidance and provide support for providers to enable better quality care for patients.

Establishing a single accountable Ontario Health agency would enable:

  • Expansion of the current exceptional clinical guidance and quality improvement practices in existing agencies into other critical areas of the health care sector.
  • Application of current best-in-class models to parts of the health sector historically left behind (such as mental health supports).
  • Consistent oversight of high quality health care delivery across Ontario, including a more efficient approach to coordinating health care services for patients, improving the patient experience and enabling innovation.
  • Advancement of digital first approaches to health care, such as virtual care, and improving the integration and efficiency of digital health assets across the entire health system, which would support more evidence-based advice on delivering health services and clinical care. 
  • Clear accountability for monitoring and evaluating the quality of health care services, and providing clinical leadership, consistent clinical guidance, knowledge sharing and support for health care providers.
  • More efficient use of public health care dollars by eliminating duplicative back office infrastructure and administration.

If the legislation is passed, the consolidation of  agencies and provincial services and programs into the Ontario Health agency  would be implemented over a number of years. The organizations which would be slated for transition include:

  • Cancer Care Ontario
  • Health Quality Ontario
  • eHealth Ontario
  • Trillium Gift of Life Network
  • Health Shared Services Ontario
  • HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency
  • Local health integration networks

The 14 local health integration networks and their functions would be reorganized.

This transition would roll out in phases to ensure the continuity of patient care.

The government  would also improve patient care and respect health care dollars by establishing a single province-wide supply chain management model for the entire health care sector. Providers and patients will also be engaged on the procurement of medical products and services to help ensure the ones being used are delivering the best patient outcomes.

Ongoing engagement with patient and caregivers: a permanent Patient and Family Advisory Council

The Minister's Patient and Family Advisory Council will also be turned into a permanent advisory body. This Council provides advice on key health care priorities that have an impact on patient care and experience, and drive meaningful changes to provincial health care planning, programs and policies. 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.

Information for patients

As the province begins work to build a health care system centred around patients, Ontarians will continue as usual to contact their health care providers directly to get the services they need.

Contact information for health care services remains the same:

  • Contact and visit your doctor, nurse practitioner, community health centre, family health team or Aboriginal health access centre as the first step for your day-to-day health care needs.
  • For medical emergencies, call 911 or go to the emergency department.
  • To get health care support, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000 or toll free TTY at 1-866-797-0007.
  • Home and community care: contact your care coordinator for any questions about your care. For information about the services in your local community and referrals call 310-2222 (English) or 310-2272 (French), no area code is required.
  • For information on community-based mental health and addictions services, call Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600 or Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

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