Ontario’s Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care

Released by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in February 2015, Patients First represents the next phase of Ontario's plan to transform Ontario's health care system. It builds on a strong foundation set by Ontario’s original Action Plan for Health Care in 2012, and strengthens the government’s commitment to put patients first by improving their health care experience.

While the 2012 Action Plan led to a number of important successes, there is still more work to be done to improve the patient experience, make the health care system more transparent and accountable, and to ensure the universal health care system will be there when needed for generations to come.

Like its predecessor document, Patients First recognizes the economic and demographic realities of finite financial resources and a growing and aging population. It also recognizes the need to approach such realities from a different perspective, where we ask how we can ensure universality, improve access, and deliver the highest quality of care to people. The answer is a matter of choice – choice rooted in evidence-based practices; patient experiences; a commitment to equity, access and universality; and decision making where patients come first.

Guided by four key objectives identified in Patients First, the Central West LHIN is working to understand and predict the unique needs of people living within its geography, supporting models that best serve local residents. Although LHINs are not accountable for all the initiatives within the Patients First four key objectives, local priorities and initiatives align with the objectives contained in the Patients First plan as described below.

Access

Improve access – provide faster access to the right care

When residents take steps to prevent illness, become sick, or get injured, they need to be able to find the right kind of help, whether from a family doctor, nurse-practitioner, pharmacist, or a number of different care providers. Improving access includes:

  • More same day and next day visits to family doctors or primary care providers
  • Seeing a specialist sooner
  • Providing the right care for mental health and addiction
  • Improving dementia support
  • Expanding scope/removing barriers to full practice
  • More coordinated care for patients with complex medical conditions
  • Allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe assistive devices
  • Delivering coordinated, patient-centred public services through community hubs

Connect

Connect Services – deliver better coordinated and integrated care in the community, closer to home

The foundation has been set for the home and community care sector to meet the needs of today's population with an enhanced focus on seniors and chronic disease management. Connecting services includes:

  • Transforming home and community care
  • More rehabilitation therapy for seniors
  • Inspections of long-term care homes
  • Redeveloping older long-term care homes
  • Supporting community paramedicine programs
  • Improvements for personal support workers
  • Additional convalescent care beds
  • Enhancing palliative care at home or out-of-hospital

Inform

Support people and patients – provide the education, information and transparency they need to make the right decisions about their health

Health is about more than the care people receive from providers. It is about living a healthier life, avoiding sickness, and learning about good ways to manage illness when it happens. Creating a culture of health and wellness will support LHIN residents in making educated, informed decisions about their care. Supporting people and patients includes:

  • Menu labelling to support healthier eating
  • My CancerIQ online cancer risk assessment and prevention tool
  • Smoke-Free Ontario
  • Redeveloping older long-term care homes
  • Healthy Kids Strategy to support healthy habits from the start
  • Expanding mental health programs in schools and workplaces
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of Ontario’s immunization system, including better informing parents about their school-aged child’s immunization status

Protect

Protect the public health care system – make decisions based on value and quality, to sustain the system for generations to come

LHINs operate under the fundamental premise that the health care needs of local communities are best understood by those who live in them. The local public health care system belongs to the residents who fund it and depend on it for their health and the health of their children. With an aging population that has a growing need for health care services, maintaining a sustainable health care system means controlling costs and targeting funding on preventing illness and improving results for patients. Protecting the public health system includes:

  • Appointment of the first Patient Ombudsman
  • More public reports on health system performance
  • More innovative approaches based on evidence
  • More public information for patients
  • Expanding patient engagement