North West LHIN’s health system planning and funding functions are now part of Ontario Health, a government agency responsible for ensuring Ontarians continue to receive high-quality health care services where and when they need them.

Health Services Blueprint

In 2012, we released the Health Services Blueprint, a 10-year integration plan to strengthen and transform health care in Northwestern Ontario. It is the result of extensive evidence-based research, engagement and feedback from people who use the system and from health service providers in the North West.

The Blueprint plan was developed by the people of the Northwest region and designed to reshape and strengthen health care delivery while meeting the health care needs of the people living in the North West. The Blueprint presents an opportunity to deliver a more integrated care experience and improve health outcomes for people living in the communities in the Northwest region.

At the Local Health Hub Level:

This model will bring all health services funded at the community level, into one integrated organization, delivering services to the population of the community and surrounding area.

We will provide integrated services across the care continuum including:

  • Public Health
  • Primary Care
  • Mental Health
  • Management of chronic disease
  • Acute care
  • Home and community care
  • Long term care
  • Palliative care

The plan for Local Health Hubs will be developed by a Local Health Hub Working Group represented by local funded health service providers from across sectors. The Early Adopter Working Group Guiding Principles and Terms of Reference will help ensure that all members have an equal voice in informing, developing and validating the plan, and will identify that approval of the plan will be the responsibility of the Board of Directors of participating organizations prior to submission. 

We have engaged with partners to develop a Framework to determine which services should be delivered at the local, district, and regional level across the North West in alignment with the Health Services Blueprint integrated service delivery model. The Service Delivery Model Decision Making Framework is based on a comprehensive literature review, learnings from leading practice integrated programs and systems and, from input from local subject matter experts.

The Intended Outcome:

Integrating services allows for improved coordination of care across programs and sectors, with a greater focus on improved client experiences, and better health outcomes for the local population by making it easier for people to access the right care in the right place when they need it as close to home as possible.

The Issue:

In Northwestern Ontario the population has poorer health outcomes yet more is spent on health care than elsewhere in the province. This is the result of:

  1. Higher rates of preventable disease.

  2. Transitions between care settings could be more efficient and effective.

  3. Higher rates of acute hospital use compared to the rest of the province.

  4. Higher rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits for chronic diseases.

  5. Higher health care costs in the North West.

There are 44 recommendations contained in the Health Services Blueprint supporting an integrated service delivery model in which all health service providers will work together to organize services and delivery of care at the local level, the district level and the regional level within the North West to better meet the needs of the population served. The model, which is person-centred, is designed to deliver the right care at the right place, at the right time, as close to home as possible.

At the local level, all programs and services determined to be optimally delivered at the Local Health Hub level will be integrated into one Integrated Health Care Organization (IHCO) that will be responsible for delivering services across the care continuum to maximize health outcomes for the local population and address service gaps. District programs will be delivered through a local IHCO to provide more specialized care to the population within the District, and at our level, highly specialized programs will be integrated by sector to develop Regional IHCOs in the areas of acute care, seniors care, mental health and addictions, independent living, and case management.

What are the benefits of system integration?

  • Healthier people

  • Improved access to care

  • Improved quality of care

  • Better coordination of services and programs

  • Better decision-making at every level of the organization

  • Lower wait times

  • Fewer visits to the emergency department

  • Less duplication of services

  • Improved organizational efficiency

  • System sustainability

  • Integration means your family, your friends and neighbours, will get the right care, in the right place, at the right time – by the right level of specialization and at the right cost as close to home as possible.

Implementation Update:

Starting in 2012, we began to build awareness of the Blueprint and developed a common understanding of the vision for an integrated service delivery model by engaging with system partners, including funded health service provider Boards and Executive Teams.

Between 2012-2015, we determined what services should be delivered at the Local, District and Regional levels. Various integration scenarios were generated to help inform what an integrated system could look like in the North West, including integration within and across sectors, with a focus on improving the care experience and health care outcomes for the population.

In 2015, we began implementation of an integrated service delivery model in four early-adopter sites. An evaluation framework was developed to measure the impact of an integrated health care system on client experience, health outcomes and system cost. Currently, a toolkit is being developed to support broader spread of this model to other communities over time.

We will continue to keep you informed about these exciting developments which will reshape and strengthen health care delivery in Northwestern Ontario. It is these changes, informed by feedback from the people of Northwestern Ontario, which will ensure health system outcomes improve and value for investment in the care and quality of care will be sustained for generations to come.