Streamlined, Coordinated System Means Better Care: Walker
11 September 2012
“The sad reality is, if you’ve got a loved one in the health care system, far too often you’ve got to fight like hell to get anything done. We’re going to change that and put patients – not bureaucrats – at the centre of our health care system.”
- Tim Hudak, Ontario PC Leader – Toronto Sun, September 11, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – The job of streamlining Ontario’s costly and cumbersome health care system starts with a question: “How do people actually use health care in Ontario in the 21st century?” PC Deputy Health Critic Bill Walker said today.
“Consider an older person with a chronic illness,” Walker said. “She might need home care through a home care provider, primary care from her doctor or help at the hospital. It’s up to the patient to navigate this baffling journey through the system. And it has both quality and cost implications. It sure isn’t from a lack of spending.”
Integrating the many silo’s in the system to improve patient health, quality and per capita cost is the chief goal of Paths to Prosperity: Patient Centred Health Care – the Ontario PCs’ latest white paper on bold ideas to tackle the roots of the problems we face today, Walker said. The paper was released Monday and is already generating major debate – just like the prior two PC papers on affordable energy and labour law reform.
“To build off what already works – and avoid institutionalizing weaknesses in the system by just tinkering with underperforming Local Health Integration Networks – we propose health hubs run by volunteer, skills-based boards, and linked to physicians and a regional hospital, put in charge of coordinating the health care system at the local level,” Walker said. “One study found that the savings of better coordinating care at the local level could be as high as $6 billion in Ontario.”
Walker – a former Executive Director of a local health services foundation with deep experience in the sector – said a hub might locate a nurse-practitioner led clinic right beside a hospital emergency room, so people with less urgent problems could be seen more quickly.
“Similarly, one in six hospital beds are filled by people who don’t need that costly level of care, and could be in home or long-term care, which are better settings for them. But a lack of coordination prevents this from happening. Our reforms would empower front line providers to deal with this issue with the budgetary means to do so, and in a timely and efficient manner. As it is, hospitals have to work with other providers, and depend on personal relationships to find these solutions and seek final approval from LHIN’s.”
Breaking down the “silos” in the system that impede this flexibility is a basic focus of the ideas contained in Patient-Centred Health Care, which can be viewed at www.ontariopc.com.
“We need to remember that the goal of our health system is providing care, not creating or sustaining well-paid managerial jobs,” Walker said. “Especially when the system can be managed so much better through some long-overdue and sensible reforms like these.”