What an amazing experience this morning, October 26, to be in one room with over 500 people from 146 FHTs across Ontario, listening to the newly re-elected and re-appointed Minister of Health expressing her appreciation and support for family health teams. This AFHTO 2011 Conference marks a huge step forward in the development of Ontario’s FHTs. FHTs from all 5 waves are now fully operational and serving over 20% of Ontarians. The FHT model is receiving plenty of positive attention within Ontario and beyond – as we heard from yesterday’s opening speaker, Steven Lewis, and today’s panel on the Future Direction for Primary Care within Ontario’s Health System – Susan Fitzpatrick, ADM, MOHLTC Negotiations and Accountability Management Division; Greg A. Reed, President and CEO, eHealth Ontario; and Dr. Stewart Kennedy, President, Ontario Medical Association and physician in the Harbourview Family Health Team. From the many posters and presentations in the break-out sessions, we saw ample evidence of the innovations and improvements FHTs are making in delivering accessible, comprehensive, high-quality, patient-centred care. Threaded throughout the two days were many calls to keep going – there is so much we can do to continue improving outcomes for patients, and to improve how we manage and use information to support quality improvement and prove the value of FHTs. No surprise – many challenges remain. Conference participants raised a number of these in the thoughtful questions to the Minister and other plenary speakers, and in the Leadership Program breakout discussions. These breakout sessions generated action ideas that FHT leaders, individually and collectively through AFHTO, could take to address challenges and advance improvement. Informal hallway discussions certainly generated many more thoughts and ideas. The AFHTO 2011 Conference is one point along a journey:
- For your reference, a number of conference presentations are posted on AFHTO’s members-only website – http://www.afhto.ca/members/ (then click on “conference materials”). Results from the AFHTO-OMA physician survey are already posted there; more will be posted over the next several days.
- The proceedings from the Leadership Program will be summarized and posted on http://www.afhto.ca/members/ in a few weeks.
- The AFHTO executive and board will take all of this into consideration when it meets on November 30 to review the strategic plan and map out priorities for the next year out.
- From the interest expressed over the course of the conference, we know there will be many AFHTO members willing to lead or serve on working groups to help move us all forward.
Thank you again to all the AFHTO members who served on the working groups and as on-site volunteers to make the AFHTO 2011 conference possible.