LHIN fears province’s prescription for efficiency
With the Ontario government eyeing the disbanding of local health integration networks (LHINs), the Champlain LHIN stresses that it plays an important role in delivering care.
“We share in the desire to improve the quality and efficiency of health care in Ontario,” says LHIN chair Jean-Pierre Boisclair. “The aging population and growth of the population make this an imperative to ensure sustainable health care for all.”
In referring to the Pathways Forward to Better Patient Care - Strategies and Integration Successes document, he noted that initiatives are tailored to better meet local needs, improve access to and quality of health services, and produce significant savings that have been reinvested to meet growing demand for health services. For example, for every dollar invested in these initiatives, the health system gets nine dol- lars back in savings.
The imperative of adapting programs and services to meet local needs is critically important. “Ontario is a very large and diverse province,” Mr. Boisclair said. “The health needs of its population vary.”
Describing the Champlain LHIN as a lean organization, Mr. Boisclair says that nearly 99 per cent of its budget is dedicated to direct patient services. Very few providers can claim such low overhead costs, he maintains.
In the most recent fiscal year, the Champlain LHIN reduced its own annual management and administration costs by $1.4 million.
The health system is made up of a complex array of programs, services and providers, he adds. “Someone needs to oversee and coordinate all the different parts in order to build a cohesive and comprehensive whole for the benefit of the 1.3 million people who live in the Champlain region. This job is akin to having ‘air traffic control’ to ensure the smooth functioning of many individual parts.
Facts and Figures
The Champlain LHIN provides services in home and at clinics for about 65,000 clients every year, and has roughly 20,000 active clients at any given time. This amounts to 4 million client visits annually for personal support, nursing, and therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
The LHIN’s home-care services play a key role in helping seniors stay at home safely and independently for as long as possible. These services also provide support to informal caregivers, who often feel stressed and alone.
The LHIN employs care coordinators, mental-health nurses in schools, rapid re- sponse nurses serving patients recently discharged from hospital, and some health professionals who provide thera- pies. It contracts with service provider agencies mainly to provide personal support (e.g. assistance in bathing, getting dressed) and nursing (e.g. wound care, giving medications).
At a time when the population is aging and experiencing more complex health conditions, the demand for home care expected to increase significantly. By 2028, in less than a decade, the number of home-care clients to be served each year will rise from about 65,000 to approximately 87,000, an increase of almost 34 per cent. By 2038, that demand will further rise to almost 120,000, an increase of about 85 per cent from the current state. For every dollar spent on home care by the LHIN, four dollars are saved in avoidable hospital and long-term care home costs, making home care a cost-effective solution in addressing current health-system pressures.
In fact, if home-care patients in the Champlain region were to be treated in hospitals or long-term care homes, it would cost an additional $130 million every year, requiring about 260 extra acute-care hospital beds, roughly 1,500 added long-term care home beds, and 100,000 more hospital emergency room visits—creating additional burdens to an already challenged system.
“This is akin to having ‘air traffic control’ to ensure smooth functioning of many individual parts.”