Ontario overhauling health-care system with super agency

Henrietta Strickland
February 26, 2019

Stressing her government's commitment to universal access to healthcare, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care has announced a new health agency.

Health Minister Christine Elliott is set to introduce legislation this afternoon and will make an announcement on it this morning. "Patients, families, and caregivers experience frequent gaps in care and have to reiterate their health concerns over, and over again because of a lack of digital tools and care continuity", she explained.

"The people of Ontario deserve a connected health care system that puts their needs first", said Elliott.

Background materials from the government say that each of the agencies being rolled into Ontario Health has a full senior management team and administrative support, "and over time some of this work has become duplicative". Nothing's going to change that way. People do not need to fear.

She said for patients, transitioning from one healthcare provider to another would be seamless and easy. "This is not a financial exercise".

Another document listed risks in the plan, including "service disruption and capacity to manage and oversee (local health integration network) functions during transition period", as well as potential labour disruption with unionized care co-ordinators at the networks.

Under the plan, a new agency, Ontario Health, will consolidate Ontario's 14 regional health care administrations, Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario and Trillium Gift of Life Network and other agencies.

Leaked government documents have shown a new model of "integrated care delivery" is being created, called MyCare groups, meant to provide patients with seamless, co-ordinated care and a single team of providers for their care needs.

People will still be able to choose who provides their care, and more choices will be available through technology, Elliot said, such as giving patients an option to securely access their electronic health records and virtual care options. "This will enable local teams of health care providers to know and understand each patient's needs and provide the appropriate, high-quality connected care Ontarians expect and deserve", said Elliott.

A group of providers will come together - for example a hospital, a local nurse practitioner clinic and a mental health team - and will be responsible fiscally and for the delivery of care to everyone within the geographic area, Elliott said.

"Imagine, we can book appointments online", Elliott said. Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to establish a comprehensive and connected system for mental health and addictions treatment, and adding 15,000 new long-term care beds over five years and 30,000 beds over 10 years.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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