Ontario, Canada is in the process of working to revamp their healthcare system. One of their primary goals is to increase the role that patients and their families/caregivers play in the system. As part of the reform, they have released a “patient declaration of values” which specifically calls for this increased inclusion and engagement from patients as well as greater transparency. This declaration will be listed in the requirements for all Ontario Health Teams.
They have recognized that in order to have the most efficient and ethical healthcare system, patients must be partners in the process.
Not Words, But Actions
The Health Minister, Christine Elliot, has made it clear that their shift in focus will not produce any tangible results if the initial talk is not followed by action. She explains, “we need to roll up our sleeves and put in the hard work that is necessary to get us there.”
It is a process that will necessitate collaboration, creativity, and hard work. Most importantly, it will require a full consideration of the patient voice.
Right now, Ontario measures things such as hospital readmissions and wait times to determine healthcare efficiency. The recent reform calls for a more detailed evaluation of patient care including an addition of more evaluative factors related to quality of life. For instance, they want to work to better ensure that patients understand their care plan, that their referral process is easy, and that their home care is efficient.
In order to ensure these new measures are properly implemented, Julie Drury explains that we need patients and their caregivers to be in leadership positions. It is the only way to truly be sure that the patient voice is being heard.
Julie Drury’s Story
Julie Drury is the chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council which is a permanent council that reports directly to the health minister. Drury’s own daughter sadly died from a rare mitochondrial disease in 2015. This personal experience has fueled her desire to help make the process of navigating the healthcare system easier for patients and their families.
While Drury has admitted she does have some trepidation about the new system, she also understands that those feelings are normal when going through any change. Overall, she is optimistic about how the new developments will improve patient experiences. This optimism is thanks to Elliot’s clear commitment to the changes. She is dedicated to ensuring the patient voice will be included in the reforms.
The new system won’t be fully in place for another few years. However, it is exciting to know there will be thousands of patient advisers contributing to the shaping of new policies in this province.
You can read more about Ontario’s changing healthcare system here.