Moving away from a fragmented and siloed health care system to one that seamlessly connects patients to the services that they need is currently driving health care reform in Ontario.
How will this look for patients?
If you’re a patient with chronic knee pain, in most cases you will be seen and assessed by a family physician. However, in some cases you may be assessed at a rapid access clinic and, if you need surgery, seeing an orthopedic surgeon in a timely manner and having knee replacement surgery. After the operation, it means that you and your family work with health care professionals, so your needs and wishes are met when being discharged from hospital. When discharged you will have a transition plan that has been developed in collaboration with you and shared with your primary care provider. You will receive post-operative rehabilitation, education and training about self-care, and you will have a clear sense of the steps needed to ensure your recovery.
Hospital overcrowding and hallway health care are realities facing today’s health care system in Ontario. The fact that they represent both a source and a symptom of the pressures that patients and frontline clinicians face underscores the complexity of the challenges to improve the situation.
This is one of the main messages to come from Measuring Up 2018, Health Quality Ontario’s yearly report on the performance of the province’s health system.
The report documents the cascading effects of hospital overcrowding such as longer wait times for admission to hospital from the emergency room; longer wait times to transfer out of hospital to other types of care – such as long-term care, home care; and insufficient access to mental health and addictions care. At a time when more and more patients have complex health needs, these stressors on the system are also contributing to rising levels of distress among unpaid caregivers.
As one of the largest quality improvement initiatives in Canada, Choosing Wisely Canada has made impressive progress over the 3.5 years of its existence.
Physicians and patients working together to avoid treatments, procedures or tests that may not be necessary, or may even be harmful to patients is an important part of a quality health care system. It is also the driving force behind Choosing Wisely Canada, with whom Health Quality Ontario has partnered in this province.
A quality health care system is one that provides its citizens with an equitable opportunity to be healthy.
Equity is one of the core dimensions of quality care, along with safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, efficiency and timeliness, and it is a dimension to which Health Quality Ontario pays special attention.
Earlier this year, Globe and Mail health writer André Picard wrote a column about innovation in health care. “One of the most frustrating traits of the Canadian health-care system is its failure to recognize and embrace success,” he began. “Imagine if we took all our successful local innovations and pilot programs and actually implemented them on a larger scale,” he wrote later.