The Change Foundation to Ontario Government: Here's how to create Winning Conditions to improve patient experience, integrate healthcare, sustain system

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2011 /CNW/ - The Change Foundation today releases Winning Conditions to Improve Patient Experiences: Integrated Healthcare in Ontario, advising the government to concentrate first on coordinating and connecting health services - and better patient experiences and a stronger, sustainable healthcare system will follow.

Change Foundation CEO Cathy Fooks says integrated healthcare is the key to better patient experiences, improved access to quality, safe services, and a stronger, sustainable healthcare system. But she says integrated healthcare is not yet possible in Ontario given the arrangements currently in place, adding that we need to create the winning conditions to yield a patient-centred system that provides value for our healthcare investments.

"The province is working on several fronts to improve healthcare quality, better serve patients and use resources more strategically. But we're missing a game-changing shift," says Fooks. "As long as the levers of healthcare change are grinding against each other, real progress will be slow. We need to embrace team-based care. We need to strengthen regional planning bodies by giving them the scope, support, and structure to do their job; and we need to ensure professional interests don't trump big-picture decision-making and the voice of patients and caregivers."

Winning Conditions recommends 24 interconnected actions to improve care, governance, funding, performance, and information flow, outlining where we stand now, and where we need to go to improve the patient and caregiver experience. Highlights:

  • Strengthen and empower regional healthcare - whatever the structure. Government should strengthen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), or their next iteration, by giving them the autonomy and discretionary funds - in short, the power - to do the work they are mandated to do. That means letting them shift funding to meet the particular needs of the population they serve. That means consolidating agencies, but with respect and assurance for local input.

  • Support and encourage public engagement. Involve the public as real partners in health system change and redesign, making them part of the healthcare discussion and healthcare decision-making. That means more meaningful input at the regional level and around targeted areas such as e-health planning and health service priority setting.

  • Develop a strategy for integrating primary care with the rest of the system. This is a crucial part of rethinking, reallocating, and redesigning the way services are provided. It requires involving the LHINs - or whatever regional health body evolves - in future strategic level primary care planning to ensure services are connected and address the needs and realities of Ontarians. And it means providing team-based care in the community.

  • Overhaul how we pay providers - create a Payment and Funding Commission - to align with system goals and whole-system design. Give this Commission a high-profile mandate to improve funding models across the healthcare system to facilitate integrated and high quality care across the continuum.

  • Shift focus to home and community care.  Given emerging technologies and drug therapies, we need to ask how people can be better supported in their homes and communities rather than in expensive hospitals or institutions.

  • Update the relationship between physicians and hospitals. Establish contracts between physicians and hospitals that establish two-way accountabilities, in order to align physicians' work with system-wide priorities to improve quality and cut costs.

  • Develop new and better ways to measure patient and caregiver experience with the whole system. Make patient and caregiver experience an integral part of performance and accountability reporting within the requirements of the Excellent Care for All Act.

The report asserts that progress on health reform is not a matter of money but rather of using investments more strategically. The evidence, analysis and calls for change in Winning Conditions can help inform several issues that the Government and Legislature will soon be facing - and the public feeling. Among them: The Drummond Commission report on changes to public services expected early in the new year and the 2012 budget; the overdue review of the LHINs legislation by the spring; the upcoming round of salary negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association; and the ongoing implementation of the Excellent Care for All Act.

Winning Conditions is The Change Foundation's best advice on how Ontario can move closer to an integrated health system and improve the experience of patients and their caregivers. It's based on work conducted and commissioned by the Foundation and published research. It draws on what we've learned from other jurisdictions, and is informed by discussions with government, policy experts, regional planners, and most importantly, the people who use Ontario's healthcare system. Read the Report, Concluding Comments, and Recommended Actions.

The Change Foundation is also walking the talk on patient-centred healthcare reform through its groundbreaking project, Partners Advancing Transitions in Healthcare (PATH): A first with Ontario patients.

The Change Foundation is an independent policy think tank, intent on changing the healthcare debate, healthcare practice and the healthcare experience in Ontario.

Image with caption: "Winning Conditions to improve patient experience (CNW Group/The Change Foundation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111130_C2294_PHOTO_EN_7675.jpg

SOURCE The Change Foundation

For further information:

Anila Sunnak, Communications Specialist, asunnak@changefoundation.com416-205-1325 www.changefoundation.com

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