July 25, 2019 – The provincial government’s Ministry of Health (Ministry) has announced a new vision for health care in Ontario. A key element of their strategy involves setting up Ontario Health Teams, or OHTs, which the government has defined as groups of care providers and organizations that are clinically and financially accountable for delivering a full and coordinated continuum of care to a defined geographic population. Or, put another way, an OHT is a team of people and organizations who provide care, including hospitals, family doctors and community-based agencies working together to provide integrated services to people in their community.
The goal for the OHTs is a health-care system where patients, clients, families and caregivers can seamlessly transition between services (such as moving in or out of hospital, coordinating home and community care with their family doctor, and transitioning to long term care), as well as having better access to their health care records, and being active partners in care decisions.
The evolution to OHTs is happening in stages. The first stage asked health-care providers and agencies across the province to complete a ‘self-assessment’ on how they can work together to form an OHT in their geographic area. After the Ministry’s review of the 157 self-assessments submitted from across the province, 31 teams are being invited to submit a full application and 43 teams are being invited to continue developing their self-assessments in order to move to a full application in the future (‘in development’).
What does this mean for Unity Health?
Unity Health Toronto is a partner in three OHT applications: Toronto east, mid-east, and west. We are also participating in the engagement activities with the Scarborough OHT team.
Our Providence site is an anchor partner in the Toronto east OHT team and this team has been invited to submit a full application. In this stage, the team will propose plans and provide detailed evidence of how we will move forward to provide seamless, fully coordinated care for patients. The application will provide third-party reviewers with a complete and comprehensive understanding of our team, capabilities and capacity.
Our St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s sites are partners in the west and mid-east OHT teams, respectively, and are now in the ‘in development’ phase. These teams have shown that they represent a continuum of care and have demonstrated a commitment to the OHT model, along with a strong degree of readiness, but the Ministry has identified areas of improvement. With support from the Ministry, these teams will continue to work together to prepare for a full application in the future.
We look forward to working closely with all those participating in the three teams as this process continues. Read more about the changes underway across Ontario.