Ontario Health Teams Better Connect Care and Support Ontario’s COVID-19 Response
LONDON — In support of the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and as part of the province’s plan to end hallway health care, the Ontario government is announcing five new Ontario Health Teams and is providing additional funding to better connect care.
“Over the past several months, Ontario Health Teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment, supporting the staffing of long-term care homes and assessment centers, and expanding virtual care options,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “They’ve done so by breaking down long-standing barriers to better connect care, both in support of patients and our brave frontline heroes. Today’s announcement of five new teams will build on this success as we continue to implement our plan to defeat COVID-19.”
The five new Ontario Health Teams are:
- Algoma Ontario Health Team in Algoma District;
- Niagara Ontario Health Team in Niagara Region;
- Ottawa East Ontario Health Team in Eastern Ottawa, Eastern Champlain and a certain portion of Ottawa Centre, offering services in both official languages;
- Western Ontario Health Team in London-Middlesex; and
- Western York Region Ontario Health Team in Vaughan, Richmond Hill and King City.
Ontario Health Teams bring together health care providers to work as one team to improve patient outcomes. Through an Ontario Health Team, patients will experience easier transitions from one provider to another, including, for example, between hospitals and home care providers, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan. Patients and families will also have access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services.
“We have been provided with a remarkable opportunity to improve access for our patients and work more collaboratively as a care system,” said Linda Crossley-Hauch, Co-Chair, Western Ontario Health Team. “It is especially significant today, in the midst of a global pandemic, that we continue to find ways to work together in a more integrated and seamless way. We look forward to continued work with our partners and the Ministry of Health in service to our patients, their families and our community.”
The province is also investing up to $25.25 million to directly support the 29 approved Ontario Health Teams. Of this funding, $9.5 million will be dedicated to virtual care, which will provide more support for vulnerable populations and individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. With the remaining $15.75 million, each Ontario Health Team will receive up to $375,000, to be used for:
- Expanding digital care, including training, education and purchasing new tools and technology for virtual visits, booking online appointments and patient portals;
- Dedicated human resources to help develop and implement this new model of care, including more collaborative responses to COVID-19; and
- Purchasing business information tools to measure the performance and outcomes of the Ontario Health Team model.
“Looking beyond the immediate threat of COVID-19, Ontario Health Teams will continue to meaningfully improve the care patients receive,” said Elliott. “Our investments will help provide additional resources for teams to develop these new integrated models of care and further expand virtual care options to benefit patients and families, especially during COVID-19.”
Last year, the Ontario government began implementing its plan to build a new, integrated health care system for patients by announcing the first 24 Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health, a single agency to oversee quality health care delivery, and improve clinical guidance and support for providers. The strong partnerships and integrated care established by Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health has helped better position the province to respond quickly and effectively to COVID-19. As Ontario Health Teams continue to expand across the province, these partnerships and the lessons learned will also help better prepare the province for a potential second wave of COVID-19 and flu season.
- An Ontario Health Team is responsible for delivering care for their patients, understanding their health care history, easing their transition from one provider to another, directly connecting them to the different types of care they need and providing 24/7 help in navigating the health care system.
- In its first year, the Western Ontario Health Team will focus on patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or congestive heart failure, who need more support and coordinated care to prevent future emergency hospital visits.
- The province has invited an additional 17 teams to submit a full application to become an Ontario Health Team. If approved and at maturity, these 17 teams will join the already approved 29 teams to cover 80 per cent of the province’s population.
- Under an Ontario Health Team, Ontarians can be confident that they can continue to contact their health care providers as they always have, to access the health care they need. The Ontario government will continue working with its health care partners until Ontario Health Teams are fully established across the province and everyone is supported by a team.