AFHTO submitted its recommendations to the Ministry of Finance as part of the 2020 Ontario Pre-Budget Consultations in early January. The submission is entitled "It Takes a Team: Interprofessional Primary Care as the Foundation of Health System Transformation."
Our recommendations are the following:
1. Increase access to interprofessional team-based primary care for Ontarians who need it. As the population ages, more people will spend more years living with multiple chronic conditions, significantly increasing strain on health services. Interprofessional primary care teams are integrated around patients and their caregivers to promote, maintain or improve health and wellbeing. As Ontario Health Teams start rolling out, ensure comprehensive primary care is at the heart of the health system, so patients get care from the right provider when and where they need it.
2. Invest in clinical leadership to ensure successful roll-out of Ontario Health Teams. Primary care providers know patients and their families best. They are the best resource government has for shifting the profession and the health system towards a shared vision and purpose. It is critical that they all be empowered to lead OHT development. Successfully building integrated care in OHTs, led by primary care, will require investing in and supporting clinical leadership.
3. Embed mental health and addictions support in primary care. Ontario is on the verge of a mental health and addictions crisis. We need to provide continuity of care and can’t wait for the full roll-out of OHTs to achieve this. These resources need to be in the community where the person lives and receives comprehensive care, and not in an expensive acute care centre.
4. Help end hallway health care by embedding home and community care coordination with primary care.
The function and associated resources of community care coordination should be transitioned to primary care. This will bring greater efficiency and patient-centredness to care. Care will be integrated, allowing for seamless transitions for patients. This will allow for greater continuity of care.
5. Support digital health options in primary care. Patients want convenient access to their health care team and to know their health information is all in one place, so stories don’t have to be repeated over and over again. We recommend government adopt a digital health strategy that is co-designed by providers and patients, and provide billing codes to recognize that care delivered digitally is valued as much as an in-person visit. This cannot happen without modernizing our current model and thinking about how care is delivered.