Department Head Blog
Inside "The Green Room"
We are well into the fall second wave of COVID, and I’d again like to express my thanks to all you are doing to deliver high-quality patient care and education safely and to keep up the development of new knowledge through research.
As I generally use my weekly message to focus on COVID-related issues, today I’d like to take a moment to share my thoughts on recent developments related to Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) and the importance they will play in helping us to achieve our strategic plan’s Priority 2: “Strengthen and build upon connections and partnerships in and with communities.”
With the recent announcement of an additional wave of successful OHT applicants, about 80 per cent of Ontario’s population is now attributed one of these teams, with the remaining 20 per cent in areas where the Ministry of Health is working actively with local partners to support the development of OHTs. While each OHT is developing in a way that is specific to its local context, all are required to reach across sectors to develop collaborative decision-making processes and to commit to shared goals developed in partnership to advance the Quadruple Aim: Better Patient and Caregiver Experiences; Better Patient and Population Health Outcomes; Better Value and Efficiency; and Better Provider Experience.
Groups have been required to ensure that Indigenous and Francophone perspectives are considered. In the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington OHT that was recently announced, we also have a focus on health equity. Almost all OHTs have identified the need to address gaps in co-ordination of services, especially for elderly or frail individuals and for people who are experiencing difficulties with mental health or addictions.
The Ministry of Health has recognized the absolutely essential and central role of family medicine and primary care in making OHTs work and in providing leadership. Here in Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (FLA), we have created a new Primary Care Network structure that brings together all our primary care physician groups with all the family health teams, the Kingston Community Health Centre, and engaged patients. Similar networks are emerging province-wide, providing new opportunities for family physicians and other primary care leadership in a way that has not really been seen before in Ontario. This allows primary care to engage effectively with other key partners in the OHT to support the really important work to improve the care delivered to the people we serve and at the same time address some of the barriers that make delivering high-quality care difficult or frustrating in the current siloed environments we have been working in.
As a member of both the planning team for our local FLA OHT and as a member of the provincial OHT Evaluation Working Group, I have had the opportunity to really see how this is bringing people and organizations together over shared goals. I am very excited to see these teams launch and what they can do!
Here in FLA, we will focus initially on improving the co-ordination between home and community care for patients requiring longer-term support in the community; bringing more shared-care mental health supports to primary care; improving discharge co-ordination for patients leaving hospital, with a commitment to ensuring all have access to primary care in the community; and improving access to specialty care.
I’d like to wish all of you a safe and joyful holiday season. Even with all the restrictions imposed by COVID, hopefully all of you have a chance to relax and recharge.
Until next time, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Dr. Michael Green