Ontario’s Doctors Welcome Premier’s Council Report on Ending Hallway Health Care
Ontario’s Doctors Welcome Premier’s Council Report on Ending Hallway Health Care
January 31, 2019
News Release

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) welcomes Dr. Rueben Devlin’s report. Experience across the world has shown that physician-led systems that focus on integrated care provide better quality at lower cost, and that the role of physicians is crucial to health care transformation. We look forward to working with the Premier’s Council and the Ford government to improve frontline services in the health care system.

Ontario’s Doctors will always examine any plan to change the health care system through a lens that focuses on long-term benefits for patients.

  • How would it improve patient care and health outcomes, and reduce wait times?
  • Does it recognize the needs of rural, Northern and underserved communities and build flexibility into the system to meet these needs?
  • Does it remove unnecessary administration and bureaucracy to enable more efficient and effective delivery of care?

Our focus is on frontline care, and making sure it works for the people of Ontario.

We support a system that invests in frontline care; prioritizes integration between family medicine, specialists, acute care, long-term care and community and home-based care networks; and leverages technology to better serve patients and their families. The OMA is encouraged that these types of solutions are the foundation of this government’s priorities.

Hallway medicine is fueled by patients waiting for alternate care

Frontline doctors invest in bringing digital health systems into their practices. These tools have demonstrated that when developed alongside providers, e-solutions work to the advantage of both patients and doctors. Digital health tools and services measurably improve patient access and clinical information sharing across the delivery system.

OntarioMD, a subsidiary of the OMA, supports more than 15,000 physicians and 1,000 nurse practitioners across the province with access to and use of digital health tools, including the award-winning Health Report Manager which currently directly connects over 160 hospitals to over 9,500 community physicians. With a commitment from Government to expand and integrate digital health throughout the system, we can continue to co-develop solutions to enhance patient care. A more robust digital health system will support accessible, efficient and effective delivery of care to patients. Virtual visits have begun improving access for patients who live in rural, northern or underserviced communities.

Reinvesting in frontline care is the lynchpin to long-term success

The government is right to focus on eliminating administrative duplication in the system. To ensure success in the long term, savings should be reinvested in frontline services. We need to ensure there are enough doctors with the right skills in the right places to meet the needs of our growing and more complex patient population.

Healing the relationship between doctors and the government

A stable and mutually respectful relationship between government and doctors – who both have the health and wellbeing of the people of Ontario as their primary goal - will help create a competitive and welcoming climate that will allow Ontario to attract and retain new doctors, and incent those who are already practicing here to continue their work.

Read the full Premier's Council Report

Read the OMA Analysis

This is a strong first step. Changes that are to be made to the health care system have to work for patients, and doctors know their patients best. Any changes made to the health care system have to work in the real world of your doctor’s office and your local hospital. We - like the majority of Ontarians - strongly support the idea that savings realized from the health care budget should be reinvested directly into frontline services that patients desperately need.

- Dr. Nadia Alam, President, Ontario Medical Association

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association is a membership organization that represents the political, clinical and economic interests of doctors in Ontario. Our 41,000 members are practicing and retired doctors, residents and medical students.

For more information, please contact:
OMA Media Relations at 416.340.2862 or toll-free at 1.800.268.7215, ext. 2862
media@oma.org @OntariosDoctors

Backgrounders From Ontario's Doctors [Download as PDF]

Effective health systems around the world have learned that in order to improve, governments require the input and sustained engagement of their frontline doctors.

The people of Ontario know this to be true, too. Ontario’s doctors are committed to working with government to tackle hallway medicine and improve mental health and palliative care services, while addressing physician burnout at the systems level.

Ontario’s doctors have perspective on a number of key concerns for health care as we work with Ontario’s government to work towards better, transformative care for Ontarians.

Waiting for Care

Wait times are one of the biggest health care problems facing Ontario's patients today. Week after week, we’re treating patients in hallways, forced to cancel surgeries, and watching our patients wait to get the care they need. Simply put, patients have to wait far too long, far too often.

Ontario has world-class doctors, hospitals, health professionals and organizations. The problem is not our providers, but rather the lack of funding that makes us wait.

In a recent Ontario Medical Association survey, 63% of doctors said that if they could tell the government one thing, it would be that government needs to appropriately fund the health care system. Appropriate funding will lower wait times and allow us to better care for our growing and aging population.

Ontario’s doctors are far too familiar with the frustration and pain that wait times cause.

Long-Term Care

Nobody wants our loved ones to wait for care. We can't bear to think of our parents languishing on a wait list to get into a long-term care home. But sadly, this is a reality for many in Ontario.

According to Health Quality Ontario, the current wait for a long-term care bed in Ontario is 149 days. In some communities, like Ottawa, it’s almost two and a half years! For patients awaiting placement, these days are spent in a hospital bed, or at home relying on their families for care.

We know that many patients require more complex care arrangements, which often includes assisted living or residential care. Research suggests that with proper community supports, many people are able to stay in their homes, reducing pressure on the system for those who need residential care.

Ontario's doctors recognize that home care is a key element in the care of our aging patients. We ask the government to work with doctors and home care experts to help strengthen community supports to help those who are able to stay at home as long as possible.

Some patients are best served by a bed in a long-term care facility. These facilities should allow patients to maintain independence and safety, while providing the care they need. Unfortunately, in recent years government funding has not kept pace with the growing demands for long-term care beds. As our population ages, we ask the government to invest the necessary funds to address the wait times in our long-term care system.

Mental Health and Addictions

Physicians are finding it increasingly difficult to access mental health services for patients. The OMA is pleased to welcome the Ontario government’s recent announcement for infrastructure to support mental health and addictions services.

The shortage of mental health services across this province should be addressed to ensure timely, equitable access for patients in need.

In Ontario, more than 12,000 children and youth are waiting up to 18 months for mental health treatment. Some patients are waiting up to six days for a mental health bed in hospital.

The diagnostic, consultation and treatment services provided by Ontario’s doctors are essential for people suffering with mental illness and addictions.

Family physicians and specialists assume a unique and distinct role in providing clinical treatment. Ontario needs the government to invest in appropriate community-based initiatives that include a focus on psychiatric treatment.

Did You Know?

Family doctors are the first point of contact for the majority of those seeking mental health services.

By 2041, 8.9 million Canadians will be living with mental illness.

In Canada, hospitalizations for self-harm among youth aged 10-17 increased 85% between 2006-2014.

Digital Health

Ontario's doctors support the use of digital health initiatives that enable us to provide patients with high-quality care.

The government has the opportunity to ensure that new digital health innovations are integrated with existing electronic systems (such as the electronic medical record or EMR) to ensure a seamless flow of information.

Physicians are key users and contributors to Ontario's digital health system, so we know what is needed to provide the best patient care. It is essential for the government to involve physicians in the decision-making process so that we can best represent the challenges and opportunities in rolling out a functional system. New digital health advancements that are premised on efficiency should improve delivery of care while minimizing unnecessary administrative processes.

There is opportunity for the rollout of the electronic health record (EHR) to physicians in Ontario be broader and faster, in order to achieve meaningful use of the system.

Read the OMA 2019 Pre-budget Submission

Ontario’s doctors are calling on the government of Ontario to continue to prioritize health care, specifically for:

  • Increased integration of mental health and addictions care across care settings and between Ministries/agencies
  • A provincial suicide prevention strategy that is embedded throughout our health and social systems
  • Capacity building and realignment of funding for palliative care services
  • A rural and remote palliative care strategy
  • Better research to understand the system-level causes and effects of physician burnout
  • System-level changes to address physician burnout
OMA Pre-Budget Submission