On November 30, 2022 the Ministry of Health announced new guidance intended to support Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) on their path to maturity. New Ministry directions have been released in a guidance document called Ontario Health Teams – The Path Forward (the “New OHT Guidance Document”).
The New OHT Guidance Document promotes a standardized approach across OHTs. Highlights include:
- Clinical priorities and development of common clinical pathways: Initial clinical pathways will be introduced for some chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, etc. Over time, common clinical pathways will also be developed for mental health, addictions, and palliative and end-of-life care.
- Common structure to progress to full implementation: To support the future state vision for OHTs of integrated clinical and fiscal accountability, OHTs will be expected to create new not-for-profit corporations to manage and coordinate OHT activities. OHT member organizations will maintain their existing accountabilities.
- Consistent collaboration in decision-making: The Ministry is standardizing OHT decision-making to include the following groups:
- Primary Care Providers;
- Home and Community Care Providers;
- Community Care Providers;
- Public Hospitals;
- Mental Health and Addictions Providers;
- Patients, Families and Caregivers; and
- Physicians and other Clinicians
OHTs are also encouraged to expand decision-making to include long-term care, municipalities, emergency health services, community paramedicine and public health units.
- Sustainable operational capacity: The Ministry is requiring OHTs to identify an Operational Support Provider to provide back-office functions to support the OHT on an ongoing basis.
- Consistency in OHT communications: The Ministry has set out requirements for OHT-led communications that include making best efforts to include patient/provider benefits, including a standard OHT hashtag, linking to government websites where possible, and communication sign off instructions.
The Ministry of Health has indicated that additional guidelines, protocols and resources will be provided over time to support OHTs in implementing the new directions. Provincial timelines have not been communicated for this transition and the Ministry and Ontario Health will be working with each OHT to assess readiness. Miller Thomson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates and support on OHT engagement and implementation.