New Change Foundation report puts human face on navigating Ontario health system

    Some Ontarians confused and frustrated by delays, redundancies and
    poor communication

    TORONTO, June 12 /CNW/ - Ontarians want and need clearer two-way
communication among all the parts and players in our health system and better
coordination of services, according to a new report released today by the
health policy think tank, The Change Foundation.
    Who is the Puzzle maker? Patient/Caregiver Perspectives on Navigating
Health Services in Ontario is The Change Foundation's first health integration
report. It draws on several sources: findings from 10 focus groups with
patients and caregivers across Ontario who've navigated the health system in
the past year; results from a general Ontario population survey asking about
communication and information flow in the health-care system; a literature
review on public expectation and patient experience of integration of health
care; and a scan of who is measuring what in health integration in Ontario.

    The focus group participants from Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Sudbury and
Ingersoll are all current and frequent users of the health-care system, many
elderly and those facing chronic illness. They identified the following
problem areas:

    -   Navigating the system: knowing whom to call, what to ask, how to move
        from provider to provider and back again, connecting the hospital
        process with the community process, organizing services in one's
        home. Not so simple. In a general survey of Ontarians, 54% of people
        reported that they were not confident that there was a single, lead
        person in charge of coordinating their health-care services.

    -   Dealing with repetition, redundancy and delay: repeating medical
        histories, symptoms, medical records, tests. A common situation.

    -   Worrying about communication: wondering whether necessary information
        has been transferred from one provider to another or one setting to
        another, not being clear about what happens next in the care process,
        and who is responsible for what. No communication or poor
        communication among and between providers, patients and caregivers
        leads to confusion and anxiety.

    -   Getting lost in the transition: many of the issues raised above were
        worse when patients had to move from one provider or organization to
        another - from hospital to home or a long-term care facility, for

    "Many patients and caregivers expressed confusion and frustration,
asking: 'Who's in charge? Is anybody listening? And, what are the next steps
in my treatment or care?' Too often, they found that health-care providers
weren't communicating with each other - or with patients and their families.
And they had trouble trying to coordinate the health services they need,
especially when moving from hospital to the community," said Change Foundation
CEO Cathy Fooks. Fooks added that even when care or co-ordination was
excellent, it sometimes seemed to patients and caregivers that it was despite
the system - not because of it.
    "The results are not meant to assign blame or point fingers," said Fooks.
"We know change takes time and health-care delivery in Ontario in 2008 is
complex. The Change Foundation believes the views of patients and caregivers
are critical to help connect the pieces of the health-care puzzle, so that
good care and coordinated care are not left to luck."
    Fooks added that patients and caregivers also praised the system -
especially cancer patients and those whose family doctor worked at a community
health centre or were part of a multidisciplinary health team.
    Change Foundation Chair Gail Donner said that the findings from the
report are instructive for everyone committed to improving the integration of
health services in Ontario.
    "The Change Foundation decided to ask patients and caregivers about their
experiences moving between and among health providers and services because
there's been little work done in this area. It seemed particularly pertinent
to hear whether people got coordinated care from the various pieces of the
health-care system, given Ontario is now bringing services together under the
organizational umbrella of the local health integration networks," said

    Patients and caregivers - and the Foundation's research - point to

    -   Speed up the implementation of electronic health records so providers
        can better coordinate patient information;
    -   Provide access to a professional "care coordinator" or system
        navigator responsible for coordinating care across settings and
    -   Increase multi-professional team work and expand the range of health
        providers such as pharmacists and nurse practitioners;
    -   Provide better support, information and liaison for caregivers, many
        of whom are overwhelmed or burnt-out;
    -   Co-locate services and establish linkages with primary care practices
        and other parts of the system, to make it physically easier for
        people to access;
    -   Support health providers to undertake process mapping with their
        institutional and community partners to reduce duplication and delay;
    -   Offer patients care maps that they can take with them when moving
        from one provider or location to another.

    The Change Foundation plans additional patient/caregiver engagement this
coming fall and winter.
    The report and related materials are available for download on June 12 at
8:00 am at Video, photos and live satellite feed
available through CNW, Activate-On-Demand page at 10:00 AM EDT - 10:30 AM EDT
on June 12 at link:

    Live Satellite Coordinates:
    DATE OF FEED: Thursday June 12, 2008
    TIME OF FEED: 10:00 AM EDT - 10:30 AM EDT
    CO-ORDINATES: Anik F2 C, Transponder 3B
    Audio subcarrier 6.2 and 6.8
    Downlink frequency 3820 vertical

    The Change Foundation is a policy think tank that generates research,
analysis and informed public discussion on key and emerging health system
issues, starting with the integration of health services in communities across

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: The Change Foundation, Anila Sunnak, (416)
205-1325, (647) 242-6775,

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