2011-07-22: Citizens’ Reference Panel on Health Services – Journal entry #5
The release of the Public Priorities for Ontario’s Health System report and some initial feedback
The three weekends of the Citizens’ Reference Panel (CRP) may have ended, but the conversation on how to sustain Ontario’s health care system continues to gain momentum. We are pleased to announce the launch of Public Priorities for Ontario’s Health System: A report of the Citizens’ Reference Panel on Ontario Health Services, an overview of the CRP process, biographies of the participants and the panel’s recommendations to create sustainable health care. The report highlights the 48 recommendations addressing 13 pressing issues the panel identified. Some of the key findings include:
- Improve accountability and incentives: Link compensation for physicians to measurable patient outcomes and satisfaction, encourage health professionals to form interdisciplinary primary health teams, and expand reporting in hospitals that measure quality and patient satisfaction to more providers, including primary care physicians.
- Strengthen community care: Requires strengthening of partnerships, mobilization of volunteers, creation of patient and community support groups, reduce cyclical funding constraints, and prepare for an aging population with new resources for community services that keep people at home.
- Expedite eHealth and improve information sharing: Communicate the importance of eHealth while addressing access and privacy issues.
Within the report’s appendix, there is a minority reports’ section reserved for panel members who had their own commentary on particular areas, but couldn’t persuade other panellists to include them among the top 13 issues. We chose to include these points to show transparency in the process.
The CRP clearly shows the public’s ability to understand complex issues such as health care reform, if given the opportunity to be taken through an educational process and then, have a voice. While a full review of Ontario’s health system goes beyond three weekends, the time and energy put forth by the panel does show the public’s ability to play a more constructive role in the health care debate.
Feedback on the Citizens’ Reference Panel report
We have heard from many people across Ontario, Canada and the globe, and we want to thank each of you for your contributions! The health care debate touches many of us in real and profound ways and thus getting it right is critical both now and in the future. Here are two examples of the feedback we’ve received thus far and our responses.
Feedback: “Lots of good recommendations in here but as a new Ontario-trained Physician Assistant, I'm disappointed that our growing and highly skilled profession didn't merit a mention. We are trained like physicians in a medical model to work under their direction to provide all the same services. I love nurses and nurse practitioners, but the nursing model is not the same as a medical model and physician assistants can help extend the doctor's time and skills in a way that nurses can't (nor do they want to be thought of as assistants to physicians). Come on! Many different types of healthcare professionals can help sustain this great healthcare system we've worked so hard to build.”
Our response: Thanks so much for your comments — it was not that the Panel did not recognize your potential, as I think it was just more a function of the limited time for both education and deliberation. PAs are not broadly used and thus the public is only beginning to understand your potential to contribute to the health system. Please do not be disheartened by the lack of calling out PAs in the report as you were part of the conversation. We know that the PA role has much to offer and look forward to broader proliferation of the profession across the system, as you and your colleagues are definitely part of the sustainability solution!
Feedback: “Very encouraged that mental health and addictions [MH&A] is being regarded as a priority within reform. Perhaps this recognition illustrates an awareness that mental health plays an extremely important role in a person’s quality of life regardless of clinical pathology.”
Our response: Your recognition of the importance of this recommendation is greatly appreciated! MH&A is being recognized as a priority in many parts of the system and should only continue to grow in importance as we move to a more chronic disease prevention and management model. MH&A is critical across the life stages and thus delivery models need to be transformed so that we can optimize the patient journey and achieve improved outcomes for our population within a sustainable system.