Get to Know Ontario's 42 Ontario Health Teams
Ontario's Ministry of Health has approved 42 Ontario Health Teams, implementing a new model of organizing and delivering health care that aims to better connect patients and providers in their communities to improve patient outcomes. Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) will enable health service providers (hospitals, primary care physicians, home care provider agencies, long-term care homes, community agencies, etc.) to work as a coordinated Team as one unit, breaking down siloed boundaries between organizations and components of the health system and delivering “connected care” that best manages transitions in a patient’s health care journey. Upon maturity, the Ministry projects the 42 approved OHTs will provide health services to 86% of the Ontario population.
As Ontario Health Teams develop plans to integrate care, they will put in place 24/7 navigation and care coordination services for patients and families. This work will be implemented in phases and over time will provide care for everyone within the Ontario Health Team's population. Initially, however, OHTs were asked to identify their year 1 priority populations. There is considerable consistency of focus on priority populations across the OHTs. View a summary listing of approved OHTs and the known identified priorities of each OHT. Common priorities include:
- Palliative Care
- Frail Seniors
- Seniors with Complex Medical Issues
- Mental Health and Addictions
While the future goal is to see OHTs serve all the population of their geographic reach, initial focus on priority populations will mean that those not in priority populations will continue to be served in more traditional ways. For example, Home and Community Care Home Care services will continue to exist to serve other populations. Similarly, many communities across the province will not be served by an Ontario Health Team at this time. In these cases, services will continue to be delivered as they are currently.
Learn more about Ontario Health Teams.
Implications for Occupational Therapists
OSOT has been enthusiastic about the potentials of integrated care models such as Ontario Health Teams. Occupational therapists can best work to full scope and contribute most value in integrated systems where transitions in care (where OTs are often most needed) are seamless. OSOT encourages members to actively monitor their organization's participation in an Ontario Health Team and to make a commitment to the following 7 actions.
7 things every OT working in the public health care system should do:
- Familiarize yourself with information about Ontario Health and proposed Ontario Health Teams. We can all participate best and contribute to a change agenda when we are well informed.
- Find out if your organization is a partner in an Ontario Health Team. Changes may not be felt or known at the front line yet but now is the time to be aware of the development of integrated care models in your community and how your organization may be participating. From OSOT's listing of approved OHTs, you can check for a Team in your region, access the web address to see what organizations are partners, and learn more! Or, ask your manager or administration!
- If your organization is involved in an OHT, talk to your program leads, managers, PPLs, administrators to learn about how your organization is organizing around this system restructuring. If not part of an approved OHT, what might be the opportunities for Ontario Health Teams in your region for your organization? Keeping apprised of your organization's strategic direction and interests enables you and your OT colleagues to best position OT services to complement desired directions.
- Learn about the priority health services your OHT or OHTs in your region have identified for attention in the first year or two. View OSOT's listing of OHTs and priority foci. We think you'll find that most serve people that have real needs for occupational therapy! Now is the time to make voices heard and our profession known and recognized for how we can contribute. Contact OSOT if you need help.
- Think outside the box – chat with colleagues about how could OT services contribute to best management of the priority patient groups identified across a more integrated system. This can help you be ready, inspired to contribute to discussions/proposal development, etc. in your organization.
- Have fun thinking about what you or the profession could do if not fettered by the walls of existing organizational structures.
- How can OT contribute to the Ministry's vision for "Connected Care"?
- Look to the evidence. Are you aware of initiatives in other jurisdictions that are impacting outcomes, efficiencies, etc.? Let us know your questions and we’ll share what we have!
- Promote Occupational Therapy! This is a terrific time to be underlining the tremendous value an OT can bring to managing transitions across components of the health system. What better time to have your organization and the stakeholders who may become Ontario Health Team partners understand what OT is and the value we can bring to the clients you serve! This is our opportunity! Need resources? Check out OSOT's professional promotion resources or our advocacy documents on the website.
How about one more thing? Send your questions and updates of issues and developments in your region to OSOT, understanding what you are hearing, not hearing, being asked to address, etc. helps OSOT to better support you and OTs across the province.