Ontario Announces 24 Approved Ontario Health Teams

Ontario has announced the first cohort of 24 Ontario Health Teams being established across the province. These 24 teams will implement a new model of organizing and delivering health care that aims to better connect patients and providers in their communities to improve patient outcomes. This will enable providers 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. 

As Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) 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, LHIN 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.

Government has invited communities across the province to continue to mobilize towards partnerships to propose additional Teams. The next deadline for full applications is March 2020.

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.

5 things every OT working in the public health care system should do:

  1. Familiarize yourself with information about Ontario Health and proposed Ontario Health Teams – OSOT can help! View the Ministry webcasts, sign up to receive ongoing MOHLTC updates. Watch for OSOT updates in emails and on the website. We can all participate best and contribute to a change agenda when we are well informed!

  2. 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.

  3. 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"?

  4. 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!

  5. 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 the professional promotion resources on 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.