The problem: hallway healthcare in Ontario
Healthcare in Ontario is largely organized and delivered in silos. Hospitals, doctors offices, homecare providers, community support service agencies and community mental health organizations work independently most of the time. This can lead to both duplication of services in some areas and a lack of services in others.
Patients often struggle when it comes to transitions between different settings of care (for example a discharge from hospital to receiving care at home). Patients and providers alike are frustrated with the amount of paperwork and process steps required to access care. People increasingly interact digitally with many other aspects of their life (banking, filing taxes, online shopping, etc.) but healthcare seems to be far behind.
These challenges have come to a head in recent years with the phenomenon of “hallway healthcare”. People experience challenges accessing community-based services and hospitals are overcrowded. As a result, many patients are treated in a hospital hallway instead of an actual room. There are many factors that have contributed to the current situation in Ontario.
To learn more about these challenges, click here to read “Hallway Health Care: A System Under Strain”, the first report from the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine.
You can also watch this short video to hear from Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Rueben Devlin, Chair of the Premier’s Council.
Despite these challenges, there are lots of parts of Ontario’s healthcare system that are working very well. Recent estimates show that 94% of Ontarians have a primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) and cancer survival rates are the highest they’ve ever been, to name a few examples.
The path forward: Ontario Health Teams
In recent years there have been a number of successful pilot projects across Ontario to try new ways of organizing the system to deliver better care for patients. Based on the lessons learned from these experiences as well as other healthcare systems from around the world, the provincial government is introducing a new local integrated care delivery model, called Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) to address the issues described above.
Local – OHTs will be designed and run based on the unique local needs of the communities they serve. There is no “one-size-fits-all”. What is required in Newmarket is different than North Bay.
Integrated – Within an OHT, all healthcare providers will work together to improve both access to care for patients and the quality of that care. Through better collaboration, healthcare providers can offer improved services to patients, families and caregivers. In turn, we expect the health of the broader population to improve over time.
Care delivery – OHTs are all about improving the delivery of healthcare services for patients. Hospitals will partner directly with primary care providers (family doctors and nurse practitioners), as well as homecare providers, community support service agencies, mental health organizations, long-term care homes, and paramedic services (to name but a few). This will improve efficiency and support the sustainability of our healthcare system for future generations.
To learn more about the OHT model, click here to check out the Ministry’s OHT website.
You can also click here to read “Connected Care” updates from the Ministry and sign up to receive them in the future.