In February, the Ministry of Health announced plans to better connect the health care system by implementing local Ontario Health Teams (OHTs). OHTs are 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. In April, the Ministry released a prescribed, multi-phased process for formal applications by health and social service agencies seeking to be selected an early implementer of the OHT concept. The Ministry intends that all providers in the province will be part of one of these teams with a single accountability agreement with Ontario Health.
Hamilton Health Team: An opportunity for health and social service transformation
On May 15, 2019 the Hamilton Health Team (HHT) a group of over 20 local health and social service providers representing hospitals, home care, family physicians, the City of Hamilton Healthy and Safe Communities Department, long-term care, mental health, community agencies, aboriginal health, post-secondary education, and co-chaired by two patient representatives jointly submitted an expression of interest (a self-assessment proposal) to be considered as an early implementer of the OHT model.
Agencies and organizations across Hamilton have long been working to strengthen and better integrate services to better serve the community. Since 2016, a formalized group of health and social service providers, named The Hamilton Community Health Working Group (HCHWG) born out of Hamilton’s Anchor Institution Leadership Group (HAIL), has been working together to examine how to improve health and well-being of the population in Hamilton through better coordination of services – with a view to making patient care experiences more seamless and integrated.
Building on this, the Hamilton Health Team, co-chaired by two patient advocates, was formed to explore local implementation of the OHT concept, and to prepare and submit the initial expression of interest to the Ministry.
Signatories to the initial proposal include the following organizations:
- Two patient representative co-chairs
- Alzheimer Society of Hamilton
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Hamilton Branch
- City of Hamilton Healthy & Safe Communities Department
- De Dwa Da Dehs Nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre
- Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University
- Good Shepherd Centres
- Hamilton Family Health Team
- Hamilton Health Sciences
- Lynwood Charlton Centre
- McMaster Family Health Team
- McMaster University (Digital Health focus,
- School of Nursing)
- Ontario Telehealth Network
- St. Joseph’s Health Care Hamilton
- St. Elizabeth’s Health Care
- Thrive Group
- Wayside House of Hamilton
- Wesley Urban Ministries
The Hamilton Health Team concept presents significant opportunities for Hamilton’s health and social service sector to be more coordinated and integrated than ever before - expanding the collective impact and efforts of the systems to advance ideas for stronger population health approaches.
The Hamilton Health Team self-assessment outlines a plan to work towards long-term improvements in the overall health and well-being of the whole community, while balancing a short-term focus on improving access to care, transitions between care settings (including back into the home and in the community). Initially, in the first year the focus will be on the overall coordination of care for two priority populations in Hamilton. Those are:
- Seniors with multiple chronic conditions; and
- Individuals with mental health and addictions concerns (child, youth and adult).
While this transformation will take time, and more engagement with the community and with partner agencies is critical, at maturity Hamilton Health Team plans to serve the whole of Hamilton with a long-term population health approach that builds on successful work in the community and strong partnerships.
This process is at a very early stage. The Ministry is reviewing the initial submissions made from across Ontario and will provide a formal response in July. Successful applicants for this first stage of the process will be invited by the Ministry to submit a full application.
The HHT steering committee continues to move forward with the planning process and preparation for the next phase of OHT readiness. Patient and partner engagement is central to the success of this initiative and a key area of focus in next steps. The team is committed to meaningfully engaging patients, families, caregivers, a broad array of partners and the communities we serve.
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