Integrated care refers to the coordinated continuum of care provided to patients even if they are not in the same physical location as the care provider. Integrated care delivery enables providers and health systems to improve health outcomes through real-time collaboration, access to system navigation services, and seamless transition throughout the patient-care journey.
Ontario Health Teams, therefore, are a new model of integrated care set up to innovate care delivery within a geographic region. The eventual goal of the OHTs is to provide integrated services to patients, families, and communities to improve health care in Ontario.
Integrated care across the OHTs is possible by following these tenets of health care delivery:
- Timely access to patient health information for decision making at point-of-care;
- Smoother patient transitions between health care providers and geographies;
- Better coordination of care between multiple practitioners, and within health care teams;
- More efficient workflow and reduced dependency on paper-based systems;
- Lower cost, better-quality patient experience by eliminating duplicate tests;
- Improved monitoring over time to support chronic disease management;
- Fewer gaps in patient information as patients move between hospital, practitioner’s office, home care and long-term settings; and
- Continuous improvement in the delivery of care with data to support a population health approach and research activities
Each serving up to 300,000 people, Ontario Health Teams will share funding as well accountability as they bring providers together. Funding will now incentivize care for patients who are in most need, instead of the earlier preference given to a patient’s age and sex, which made healthcare providers prefer admitting healthier patients.
Some Pre-requisites for Delivering Integrated Care
- Ontario maintains a series of provincial data repositories containing important patient records and digital health information. These repositories include historic as well as current data gathered from care and diagnostic settings across the province. Such repositories can help support Ontario’s transformation toward integrated care delivery and health sector efficiency.
- The direction set by four general digital health policies will support the implementation and/or use of all the digital health systems:
- Digital Health Information Exchange Policy
- Digital Health Investment and Value for Money Policy
- Digital Health Access, Privacy and Security Policy
- Digital Health Reporting and Performance Policy
- A robust in-house digital strategy or with home-grown health IT companies to deliver disruptive solutions such as real time care team collaboration, secure messaging, and secure EHR data access.
Benefits of Integrated Care in OHTs
Eventually the care delivered through OHTs would be connected and fully shared across the Ontario Health Teams network including hospitals, home care providers, acute care providers, primary care providers, doctors’ offices and mental health providers. This approach is expected to reduce duplication of efforts through effective coordination, which would ultimately benefit the patients and their caregivers. Among other things, OHTs will help:
- Connected care teams in the OHT (including in social service agencies) address social factors which are the root cause of illness, like unemployment, housing and poverty.
- Reduce gaps in providing home care services and mental health services.
- Meet expectations at a lower cost than a pre-established benchmark, and thus help keep a portion of the savings to invest in improving direct patient care.
- Enable digital solutions like patient, portals, secure messaging, virtual provider visits and virtual consultations.
Finally, Integrated Care is quintessential for the OHTs to succeed and achieve common goals related to patient experience, provider collaboration, improved health outcomes, and value based care. And while different OHTs will have different approaches to reach this common goal of providing integrated care, it will help create a coordinated continuum of care which would improve healthcare in Ontario by leaps and bounds.
The Ontario Health Teams are being introduced as an innovative model of care, set to transform the healthcare landscape in Ontario with new ways to organize and deliver services to patients and achieve better health outcomes. This connected health care system will be centered around patients, families, and caregivers, enabling patients to navigate the system and transition between providers. With its high-performing, integrated care delivery system, an OHT will offer seamless, coordinated care for patients, improving population health in the province.
Why the need for Ontario Health Teams?
No one can deny the fact that healthcare delivery in Ontario today needs to be revamped and re-imagined to stay sustainable and to deliver on its promise of improving care outcomes. In order to understand why there’s a need to overhaul the current system with Ontario Health Teams, it is important to understand the lacunas in the current system at play.
Some of the results of a disconnected, siloed healthcare system in Ontario are:
- Patients are kept waiting for very long periods, on all levels of care needed. The wait periods are growing everywhere.
- Hospitals are resorting to hallway care, jeopardizing the health and well-being of both patients and their caregivers alike, as hospital beds are underutilized and funding for new beds is not meeting the growth in demand.
- Leveraging technology to treat patients when and where they need it most and to get patients involved in their own care is an absolute need of the hour.
- At the end of a clinical interaction, clinicians may refer patients to other providers, prescribe drugs, order lab tests or imaging, or apply for supports such as assistive device coverage. Conventionally, these activities are fax-and-paper-based, resulting in significant administrative burden and provider burnout.
- The digital tools developed to address these problems have been developed in siloes, and there is significant fragmentation and that leads to too many solutions that are not interoperable.
- EMR integration is also not consistently available for all eService solutions, or all EMR users.
Therefore, to help create a more integrated ecosystem for patients and providers alike, the concept of Ontario Health Teams took seed. Here are some of the important questions that OHTs will answer once fully operational.
What does OHT mean for providers?
With Ontario Health Teams, knowledge and experience of healthcare providers will now be leveraged to provide integrated care to Ontarians with:
- Timely access to updated information
- Improved communication and collaboration with other HCPs
- Avoidance of duplication and unnecessary costs
- Increased productivity and efficiency
- Access to learning resources
- Improved information management
- Improved clinical decision-making and quality of care
- Reduced administrative burden
What does OHT mean for patients?
With fully operational Ontario Health Teams, patients will be able to experience connected care – one where their primary care teams and specialists collaborate over a single platform to improve care outcomes.
- Patients can expect to be closely monitored and experience seamless healthcare journey across various points-of-care.
- The ER doctor will be able to access provincial data, with the patient’s consent, and check medication records.
- The patients need not repeat their medical history multiple number of times nor will they have to repeat tests which have been already issued.
- At the time of discharge, the patient will receive a care plan and may be eReferred to a different specialist. They may also go through an eConsultation if the specialist is not available.
- Their family physician will receive eNotifications informing them of the hospital admission and treatment received by the patient.
- The patient’s recovery may be monitored by a specialist through a virtual video visit with the findings recorded in their integrated health record.
Eventually the care delivered through Ontario Health Teams would be connected and fully shared across the Ontario Health Teams network including hospitals, home care providers, acute care providers, primary care providers, doctors’ offices and mental health providers.
To learn more about enabling integrated care solutions in an Ontario Health Team, visit here.
Ontario Health Teams (OHT), a path-breaking initiative taken by the Ontario government to end hallway health care is slowly taking shape. This new healthcare system will focus on delivering connected care centered around patients and their families. Through OHT, doctors, hospitals, community and home care providers will be able to collaborate and deliver integrated care no matter where they are located. As a result, the idea of a connected team helping patients traverse the healthcare system is paving way for modern healthcare innovation.
The Ministry of Health started the process of shortlisting applicants with an open call for self-assessment for Ontario Health Teams. Consequently, based on the self-assessment forms, the teams were classified on their level of readiness. In total, 31 teams were deemed to be well-positioned for completing the full application. Here’s the list of the 31 teams invited for full-application for Ontario Health Teams.
Ontario Health Teams – Locations
Ontario Health Teams – Full Application List
||Team Name (Provisional)
||Muskoka and Area OHT
||Connected Care Halton OHT
||Hills of Headwater
|Toronto – North West
||North Toronto OHT
||West York OHT
||North York Central Health System OHT
||Southlake Community OHT
||Eastern York Region and North Durham OHT
||Great Barrie Area OHT
||Guelph and Area OHT
||Brampton, Bramalea, North Etobicoke, Malton and West Woodbridge OHT
||Ottawa Health Team/Équipe Santé Ottawa
|Ottawa – East
||ÉSO Ottawa-Est/Ottawa East OHT
||All Nations Health Partners OHT(Kenora)
||Near North Health and Wellness OHT
|Sault Ste. Marie
||Équipe Santé Sudbury and Districts OHT
|Toronto – North East
||North Toronto OHT
||East Toronto Health Partners
||Huron Perth and Area OHT
||Chatham Kent OHT
Apart from 31 full applications, 41 other applications were deemed in-development after readiness assessment. The number of Ontario health teams is expected to increase with time, and therefore the vision of a web of connected healthcare teams oriented towards patient-centered care is bound to help end hallway care in Ontario.
Keeping this goal in mind, Corolar FHIR Server for Microsoft Teams is helping ease the transition for healthcare teams to a more integrated approach to care by extending patient data from EHRs to Teams. Corolar FHIR Server, therefore, enables care-coordination, clinical consults, secure messaging, telehealth and much more for Ontario Health Teams. To learn more about our solutions for Ontario Health Teams click here or book a meeting with our healthcare specialist here.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) today are transforming business processes by enabling one software program to access the data or services of another. They are particularly useful for the healthcare industry, with its closed health IT systems and siloed data stores. The ability of APIs to manage the flow of information between disparate systems is helpful in supporting healthcare data interoperability between internal apps, EHRs and other data exchange tools.
The healthcare industry today is moving to digitize its records and making them discoverable and understandable. It is also structuring them and trying to standardize them in such a way as to support automated clinical decisions and enable machine-based processing of records. In doing so, it’s important to ensure that the API connections are secure and that any vulnerabilities which open the door for unauthorized access to the data do not leak information. We list 7 such privacy and security considerations with healthcare APIs, and how they can be mitigated to succeed and get accepted.
Privacy and Security Concerns with Healthcare APIs
- With APIs, users may gain access to a lot of data as compared to limited access offered by an email interface or a web site. Even if the data is not misused for malicious purposes, the unauthorized access provided to the data can violate the privacy regulations laid down by HIPAA.
- Though managed APIs are secure, there’s a risk of privacy violation when patients access PHI without being familiar with the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices for Protected Health Information. Also, some patients may share their health data to third party apps and expose themselves to a possible breach of privacy. This risk can be mitigated by ensuring that the electronic access request interface provides individuals with an opportunity to approve the electronic transmission of health information in accordance with applicable legal requirements like the HIPAA right of access.
- Organizations need to establish privacy and security policies which are consistent with the PMI Privacy Principles or Security Principles to effectively address any privacy or security risks.
- A service provider’s infrastructure, security practices, and technical capabilities for hosting implementations of APIs and apps that store, and access health information will need evaluation. The API will need to be protected using Transport Layer Security (TLS) Version 1.27 or higher with strong cipher suites (such as the Advanced Encryption Standard [AES] or higher) to protect health information in transit via the API from the EHR to the third-party.
- Technical and administrative policies should ensure that the identities of both users and contributors are established and verified before granting credentials for access to or contribution of health information. Similar policies need to control the actions of anyone who wishes to issue credentials to third parties, permitting them to access their own health information.
- Establish risk-based authentication controls which correspond to the organization’s security risk assessment, and are commensurate with the type of data, level of sensitivity of the information, and user type. Technical authorization controls need to support individual privacy preferences, but limit API access, use, or disclosure based on need.
- Data integrity protection controls need to detect any unauthorized alterations made to health information which is accessible through the API. EHR patient portals which interact with the API need to be secured and protected against all known and exploitable vulnerabilities.
There is no doubt that with appropriate privacy and security safeguards in place, APIs can add value to individual-directed sharing of health information. As a matter of fact, properly managed APIs provide better security than any legacy or proprietary integration technology. By ensuring authentication, authorization, certification, encryption, and signatures, we secure and manage healthcare API exchanges better.
Dapasoft has been announced as the winner of the Microsoft Application Innovation In Healthcare at Impact Awards 2019. Microsoft Canada hosts the IMPACT Awards to celebrate innovation in technology recognizing the outstanding work its partners to deliver virtually seamless solutions to customers based on Microsoft technologies. Microsoft enjoys the largest partner ecosystem in the industry, with over 14,000 partners across Canada.
At the awards ceremony Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, noted that the IMPACT Awards showcase the excellence and innovation within the partner community. Each of these partners play an integral role in unlocking new opportunities for Canadian companies, while Microsoft is committed to helping their partner ecosystem build profitable businesses and successfully take their solutions to market.
Microsoft Canada presented the award on July 14, 2019 at the Microsoft Inspire conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. All the winners were selected based on the outstanding work they provided to their customers and community.
Dapasoft is helping bring to life the vision to drive value-based care and help large providers move to predictive, personalized and preventive care. The most agile healthcare organizations are looking to bridge old and new technologies and Dapasoft is easing this transition with its innovative cloud solutions. Be it integration with existing IT architectures, or implementing solutions with built-in security features, we are proud to partner with Microsoft and provide a platform that supports hybrid environment with a fast route to the cloud.