The province of Ontario is set to create an integrated, digitized, innovative and efficient health care system which will be able to respond to the long and short-term needs of its patients. This bold vision for the province of Ontario has four set objectives. These objectives are aligned with an internationally recognized framework known as the ‘Quadruple Aim’, which informs the design and delivery of effective health care systems.
The government of Ontario is committed to adopting the four objectives of the Quadruple Aim, which are as follows:
- Improving the patient and caregiver experience;
- Improving the health of populations;
- Reducing the per capita cost of health care; and,
- Improving the work life of care providers.
All the recommendations and actions under the new vision are expected to bring about a positive change in each of the areas listed under the Quadruple Aim, in accordance with the broader vision of providing every patient in Ontario access to the services of an Ontario Health Team.
How Digitization Helps Realize the Major Goals of OHTs
The various OHTs aim to create integrated care delivery systems in Ontario with their own leadership, accountability and governance models. The OHTs will have to meet performance expectations and ensure that the care provided is connected, coordinated and comprehensive, meeting the vision set by the Quadruple Aim. These goals can all be realized through digitization which makes it possible for all the members of the OHTs to have access to the health records of a patient with their permission.
Digitized records enable the caregivers to analyze any milestone in the journey of a patient through the health care data, and offers the following benefits:
- The new approach to health care adopts a digital first approach and enables virtual care. This ensures that patients need not go to an emergency department to access basic services and even helps them to avoid admission to a hospital, if not necessary.
- Patients get connected to the right level of care at the right time and get easy access to services throughout the health care system.
- Care providers will have the access needed to the medical records of patients and will not need to re-order a fresh set of identical tests or waste time by waiting for them.
- The fact that the hospital, the home-care agency and family doctors will all belong to one team now makes the sharing of health records easier.
- Resolves the issues leading to hallway care across the hospitals in Ontario or of patients being discharged without arranging for any follow-up care.
- It becomes easy to know what kind of follow-up care will be required by them, either at a different facility or at home after they get discharged from the hospital.
- Enables a patient to journey through the health system smoothly, as the OHTs provide integrated care, ably supported by common resources, performance expectations and planning tools at the provincial level.
While there is no prescribed right or wrong way to set an OHT up and there will also be no supervisory interference into the functioning of an OHT, digitization of records is the right way to go. Nothing can replace its effectiveness in enabling OHT’s members to work collaboratively. This will ensure that the continuum of care envisioned by the province of Ontario gets delivered to the residents of the province, when they need medical attention.