Rapid Recap: Minister’s Update on Accelerating Ontario Health Teams
Wednesday, September 27, 2023- Last November, the Ministry of Health released Ontario Health Teams: The Path Forward outlining a “new direction for Ontario Health Teams to support their progress towards maturity”. Most notably, the November announcement outlined the requirement for Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) to adopt a common governance structure (as a not-for-profit corporation), while also signaling OHTs could expect additional guidance and support from the Ministry to this end.
Today’s announcement — provided via a webinar on OHT acceleration by the Minister of Health in collaboration with Ontario Health — represents this promised next step. The webinar outlined expectations for OHTs at maturity, how they will need to evolve, and what support they will receive to get there.
This, coupled with the government announcement made earlier this month regarding home and community care modernization, represent substantial progress by the province to further its original OHT vision of 2019. While the OHT model has largely been a concept to date, the next year could see the maturation of a substantial number of new, legally established OHT entities, with concrete functions associated with planning and the delivery of certain health care services.
Funding and OHT Designation
Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, announced the province will invest up to $43 million in OHTs to help accelerate their impact and success. Starting in April 2024, each OHT will receive up to $2.2 million over three years ($750K per year) – providing stable funding for OHTs to continue their work in the communities they serve.
The provincial government will also support an initial group of 12 OHTs (identified below) to advance rapidly towards maturity. Those 12 will be the first OHTs considered for designation under the 2019 Connecting Care Act. As part of this role, it was noted that these OHTs will be responsible for taking on increasing responsibilities for home care (as noted in the home and community care modernization announcement made earlier this month).
- All Nation Health Partners OHT
- Burlington OHT
- Couchiching OHT
- Durham OHT
- East Toronto Health Partners OHT
- Frontenac, Lennox and Addington OHT
- Greater Hamilton Health Network OHT
- Middlesex London OHT
- Mississauga OHT
- Nipissing Wellness OHT
- Noojmawing Sookatagaing OHT
- North York Toronto Health Partners
Selection of these 12 OHTs was informed by a standardized assessment of all 57 OHTs conducted by Ontario Health.
The 12 OHTs advancing to maturity will be supported in achieving a set of standard milestones (both structural and patient-facing), which are described below. While many of these expectations were first indicated in The Path Forward, further details were provided about several of the milestones.
- Creating a not-for-profit corporation: As first indicated in The Path Forward, OHTs will be expected to incorporate as not-for-profit corporations to manage and coordinate OHT activities.
- Establishing a primary care network: This builds on the government’s announcement in the Plan for Connected and Convenient Care to advance the integration of primary care providers through “primary care networks” to participate in decision-making with OHTs.
- Standardizing back-office supports: As articulated in The Path Forward, OHTs will be required to standardize its support functions through an Operational Support Provider.
- Developing a home care readiness plan for the eventual delivery of home care: Aligned with the September announcement on Integrating home and community care into Ontario Health Teams, this milestone supports the commitment to gradually transition the responsibility for providing home care to individual OHTs. In this future model, care coordinators employed by a Single Shared Services Organization (SSO) will work through individual OHTs that are accountable for integrated home care planning and delivery.
- Putting in place a standardized patient navigation solution that integrates with Health811: In support of a coordinated, collaborative integrated care system, OHTs will be expected to adopt a standardized solution that supports navigation for their population across its services.
- Implementing two or more integrated clinical pathways: The Path Forward directive identified four chronic conditions OHTs would be expected to implement through a phased introduction of common clinical pathways. Those chronic conditions are congestive heart failure (CHF), diabetes (focused on avoiding amputation), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and stroke.
- Continued work on local signature initiatives tailored to local populations: Aligned with OHTs’ initial objective to connect care at a more local level, this milestone recognizes the ongoing work by OHTs to advance solutions specifically developed based on their unique population and provider context.
Reflections & What’s Next
After today’s webinar, there is a clearer understanding of the expectations and timelines of OHTs in advancing towards maturity, particularly for the 12 OHTs selected for rapid advancement. More details are yet to come on how these OHTs will be supported in their journey to maturity.
A follow-up webinar will be held tomorrow morning at 10 AM EST for OHT members to ask additional questions about the announcement. This will provide further opportunity for clarification on the supports that will be provided.
It was indicated that the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health will release guidance, resources, and support for OHTs on key elements of The Path Forward, including primary care networks and governance starting in November 2023.
Although this announcement focused largely on specific actions for the 12 selected OHTs, it signals clear priorities for other OHTs to take into consideration as they progress. While explicit guidance was not provided for the 35 OHTs that were not selected in this initial group, the Ministry is working to develop an OHT Maturity Framework to support all OHTs evolve to their desired future state. OHTs will have the opportunity to inform this framework through the OHT Advisory Committees and regional collaboration tables.