On June 25, 2019, the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine released its second report. Entitled “A Healthy Ontario: Building a Sustainable Health Care System,” is a follow-up to the first report that was released January 2019. The first report identified the main challenges facing Ontario’s health care system, whereas today’s highlights 10 recommendations to move forward with actionable deliverables for the government’s consideration.
The Premier’s Council, chaired by Dr. Rueben Devlin, conducted 10 regional engagement sessions across the province. The feedback from patients, families, health care providers and system leaders has contributed to the advice identified in the report, which highlights key themes of integration, innovation, efficiency and capacity.
These recommendations have been released in the midst of Ontario’s health system transformation. The government’s ongoing structural changes, with the creation of Ontario Health and Ontario Health Teams, still leaves many uncertainties in the short-term. However, the Council’s report may point to the long-term future of Ontario’s health system as a sustainable, modern and integrated system.
Ten recommendations to improve health care
1. Put patients at the centre of their health care. Patients should be well–supported and treated with dignity and respect throughout all interactions with the health care system.
Key government action item: Work with health sector leaders to provide more readily accessible and effective information to patients, families, caregivers and providers about the range of health services available at every age and stage of life.
2. Improve patients’ and providers’ ability to navigate the health care system, simplify the process of accessing and providing care in the community, and improve digital access to personal health information.
Key government action item: Shift its approach to personal health information oversight and introduce legislation that keeps patient information secure while also creating a data information system where patients own their information and have control over consent.
3. Support patients and providers at every step of a health care journey by ensuring effective primary care is the foundation of an integrated health care system.
Key government action item: Work with primary care providers to ensure they have information sharing and referral tools to link with all appropriate community providers, enabling seamless transitions for patients, with continued involvement by primary care.
4. Improve options for health care delivery, including increasing the availability and use of a variety of virtual care options.
Key government action item: Use legislative and/or policy tools and appropriate incentives to increase the availability and use of virtual care, including telephone calls, secure email and texting, video visits, or internet–based psychotherapy, to provide new delivery options for patients and providers.
5. Modernize the home care sector and provide better alternatives in the community for patients who require a flexible mix of health care and other supports.
Key government action item: Modernize home care legislation so that innovative care delivery models focused on quality can spread throughout the province.
6. Data should be strategically designed, open and transparent, and actively used throughout the health care system to drive greater accountability and to improve health outcomes.
Key government action item: Stop collecting data that isn’t being used to improve care, collect the right data and ensure indicators are used to manage the system, and standardize collection throughout and across care settings.
7. Ensure Ontarians receive coordinated support by strengthening partnerships between health and social services, which are known to impact determinants of health.
Key government action item: Review and identify shared objectives and goals across government ministries and programs to ensure effective alignment at the system level and at the point of service delivery.
8. As the health care system transforms, design financial incentives to promote improved health outcomes for patients, population health for communities and increased value for taxpayers.
Key government action item: Review current funding models and system objectives to ensure appropriate alignment between goals and incentives.
9. Address short– and long–term capacity pressures including wait times for specialist and community care by maximizing existing assets and skills and making strategic new investments. Build the appropriate health care system for the future.
Key government action item: Conduct a review of current processes to remove duplication and ensure more time and resources are spent delivering care to patients.
10. Champion collaborative and interprofessional leadership development focused on system modernization capabilities.
Key government action item: Support health sector leaders and ensure they have the skills and tools to lead by example and support the sector through a fundamental culture change.
Following today’s report, the Council will continue engaging with Ontarians by encouraging them to participate by emailing the Premier’s Council with their feedback. Several public reports are expected to come from the Premier’s Council in the future.
Additionally, in a Government of Ontario statement, Minister of Health Christine Elliott stated, “I am pleased and encouraged that many of the Council’s recommendations align with the important work the ministry is doing.”