Officials at the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) are busy preparing for changes in the way health care in Ontario will be delivered.
Ralph Ganter, acting CEO of the organization responsible for more than $ 1 billion in health care funding, said the new Patients First legislation, introduced in June, is expected to be passed in the next several months.
The thrust of the legislation is to create an integrated, patient-focused health care system.
“We’ve been gathering information based on what has been released,” he said. “Community input is extremely important.”
One significant change under the legislation is that LHINs would take responsibility for work being done under Community Care Access Corporations (CCACs).
“That would be a big change for us,” Ganter said. “Up until this point we have been in the business of funding and monitoring. This brings us more toward the direct services delivery work.”
Ganter said he understands the idea behind the changes.
“The health care system isn’t as connected as we would hope it to be,” he said. “The hope and belief is that connectivity will result in better and more efficient delivery of services.”
Ganter said the system must change and keep up with the evolution of technology and use of resources.
“In much of the 20th century, health care meant hospitals,” he said. “We now know that it isn’t automatically the best thing so we need a system that addresses the issue from the viewpoint of a patient’s well-being, not what works best for the system.”
Expanding the LHIN role in the areas of primary care and home and community care and developing a more narrow focus are designed to meet the needs of communities.
“We have commonalities in funding but we need to be sensitive to the nature and needs of our communities if we’re going to serve them successfully.”
The government states that Bill 210, if enacted, will make it easier for patients to find a new care provider; simplify the transfer of patients between hospitals, home care and other service providers; and improve communications between the various providers.
In an attempt to make health care governance more transparent, the bill will permit the minister of health and long term care to issue operational or policy directives to the board of a hospital and make those directives public.