Council identifies need for more tech in healthcare
February 13, 2019
TORONTO – As a way of reducing pressures on care providers, and providing better access to healthcare services for patients, much better use of digital tools is needed in Ontario, says the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine.
The council’s first report, Hallway Health care: A System Under Strain, says that only 16% of Ontarians could make an appointment with their healthcare provider by email or on a website. Perhaps even more surprising, is that less than 1% of appointments were conducted virtually in Ontario.
The report says Ontario could be doing a better job connecting patients with care. “As Ontario’s healthcare costs are projected to rise more closely with aging demographics than inflation it will be more important than ever to explore how adopting technology might help bend the cost curve and unlock potential savings.”
As the Council continues its work, it will make a focused effort to consider technology solutions to help improve health outcomes for patients across the province. This could look like new partnerships to deliver specific services or to help support the integration of care at the local level. This could also look like identifying options for integrated health information systems that would help facilitate smooth transfers between care settings.
At the same time, Dr. Rueben Devlin (pictured), Special Advisor and Chair of the Council, said: “There’s much to be proud of in our healthcare system. However, there are also many barriers that make the system difficult to navigate for patients and provider. This report is a first step in advising the government on how to transform Ontario’s healthcare system.”
The goal of this Council is to provide strategic advice to the Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care that will help to ensure Ontarians have a healthcare system that has the right mix of healthcare professionals, the right number of hospital and long-term care beds, and that care is available when and where it’s needed.
The Council is comprised of health system leaders, including senior administrators and frontline healthcare professionals, and is also informed by stakeholder groups and patients. During its first four months, the Council heard from over 340 patients, healthcare stakeholders, and members of its six sub-committees.
Hallway Health Care: A System Under Strain identified three key findings:
- Difficulty navigating the healthcare system and long wait times have a negative impact on patients’ health and on family, provider and caregiver well-being.
- The system is already facing capacity pressures and it does not have the appropriate mix of services, beds or digital tools to be ready for the expected increase in complex care needs.
- More effective coordination at the system level and at the point-of-care would make the system more efficient and achieve better value for taxpayer money.