A Letter From VHA’s President & CEO: Ontario’s Evolving Health Care System
Carol Annett (left) and VHA’s Vice President of Client Services Barbara Cawley (second from the right) meet with Christine Elliot, Ontario’s Minister of Health (centre) and other Leaders of the East Toronto Health Partners at WoodGreen Community Services to discuss how integrated health care can improve the patient experience by focusing on patients and specific local needs.
“The most significant new element in our landscape has been the announcement of a new vision for health care by the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario.”
The most significant new element in our landscape has been the announcement of a new vision for health care by the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario. The government is aiming to create a health care system that includes more integrated care, improved patient and service provider experience, an end to hallway medicine in hospitals and improved access to digital tools and virtual care. No one can disagree with these laudable intentions – it’s what we all want – the challenge will be in making it happen.
A key element of their strategy involves setting up Ontario Health Teams (OHTs), which the government has defined as groups of providers and organizations that are clinically and fiscally accountable for delivering a full and coordinated continuum of care to a defined geographic population. To put that another way, OHTs will be teams of local health and community care providers working collaboratively to provide integrated care within their communities. These coordinated provider groups will allow patients, clients and families to more easily access and navigate the system and be better supported through transitions from one provider to another, to have better access to health care records, and to be active partners in care decisions. VHA has worked in close collaboration with a large number of trusted partners for some time and has seen the benefits of integrated interprofessional care and the positive outcomes when clients and their families are truly in the driver’s seat ensuring we pay attention to what matters most to them. VHA is well-positioned for this transition and we are optimistic about the improvements this will bring across the continuum of care.
The government is taking a staged approach to these changes. Currently the Ministries are reviewing Self-Assessments completed by organizations who have chosen to work together. They are only expected to approve a small number of OHTs to move forward to the full application at this stage, and we anticipate that decision in the near future. VHA is participating in a number of submissions across the province and we are excited about the possibility of being a partner in one or more of the first OHTs to help create a better health system in local communities we are an integral part of. Regardless of whether we are tapped on the shoulder to move forward in this first round of applications, there is good will and great enthusiasm at the tables we are at to forge ahead regardless and keep working together to improve the care experience for all involved–clients and clinicians alike. This work requires heavy lifting, a comfort with ambiguity, a willingness to let go of the past and a heavy dose of trust. As one of our partners put it so well–OHTs will move forward ultimately at the speed of trust amongst partners!
“[OHTs will allow patients, clients and families to more easily access and navigate the system and be better supported through transitions from one provider to another, to have better access to health care records, and to be active partners in care decisions.”
Eventually the plan is to have OHTs in all communities across the province. I have been asked whether I am concerned that VHA is not playing a significant role in all the OHT submissions where we currently provide service. My response has been and remains VHA may well not look like it is today in the years to come, but our creative, skilled and passionate team with their deep knowledge and expertise in home and community care will certainly be needed. For now, our focus is on ensuring our voices, along with those of our clients and families, are heard as a new future is being reimagined! A transition as significant as this will take time, so I encourage everyone to speak up, fasten your seat belts and get ready for an exciting ride.
The first OHTs are expected to be announced this Fall and we will keep you updated as this progresses. If you would like to read more about the OHTs, the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care have provided detailed information about this process on their website at http://health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/connectedcare/oht, and one of the Self-Assessments VHA is involved in is posted on our website at
If you have comments about, I encourage you to contact our Senior Communications & PR Manager Tracey Turriff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-280-8426. Please also feel free to contact me with any comments directly at email@example.com or 416-482-4609.
Thank you for your interest and enjoy the summer!
President and CEO
VHA Home HealthCare