2011-06-02: Citizens’ Reference Panel on Health Services – Journal entry #3
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Sharing views on the health care system and identifying priorities for reform
The commitment of the panellists to reform of the healthcare system became obvious as they all returned for the second weekend of dialogue on healthcare. After the first weekend the panellists were tasked to reflect on what they heard from the speakers and the discussion of the values that would guide the dialogue. In addition, they were asked to speak with at least three people — friends, family members or colleagues — and capture their views of the health system and identify their top five priorities for reform and improvement. These points of view were brought to bear on the discussions that followed over the course of the weekend.
“We need to consider all the ramifications of what we’re putting forward here, so that we can show what the average Joe – what regular citizens say is representative of the will of the people of this province.” — Loretta, Milton, Ontario
Adalsteinn Brown, former Assistant Deputy Minister of Health responsible for the design of Ontario’s Excellent Care for All act, kicked off the second weekend by providing us with an overview of Ontario’s recent efforts at health reform. A series of presentations on Saturday (see list of presenters below) brought perspectives from several health leaders about some of the challenges created by the structure and focus of the current system. Among the issues were the sheer complexity of the health management structures, the disease focus of care and associated costs including drugs used to treat largely preventable illnesses, as well as a discussion of the structural issues such as the lack of integrated electronic health records. Speakers also identified gaps in the provision of adequate care and support for aging Ontarians and those living with chronic diseases and mental health and addictions illnesses.
Themes that emerged throughout the weekend included the need to challenge the traditional roles of healthcare providers, the important role of family caregivers, the community, and that the maintenance of good health is a life-long journey.
The presenters were very supportive of the panellists’ contributions to the healthcare debate. Interestingly, these healthcare leaders challenged the members of the Citizens’ Reference Panel to not only share their insights on the issues but provide actionable solutions. The dialogue needs to result on the citizens’ perspective on how healthcare can be transformed – thus encouraging their recommendations to be action-oriented. Our panellists brought their views and insights to the working sessions that followed while debating the issues, raising contrary perspectives but ultimately narrowing down a list of key priorities some of which included the need for the health system to:
- Facilitate access to care, services and supports
- Share more information with the public regarding healthcare
- Work better for citizens and be easier to navigate
- Demonstrate accountability for health spending
- Become focused on the patient rather than the illness and
- Support health promotion, education and wellness care.
“Over weekend two, the panellists were very focused on the task at hand. The discussions and sharing of opinions and perspectives were intense and demonstrated their commitment to the process. I was most impressed by the fact that during their deliberations they referenced the materials that the various presenters had shared with them over the two weekends – thus showing their commitment to informed decision making.”
Yet another intense, but energizing weekend came to a close on Sunday when the panellists worked toward the beginnings of potential priorities for reform that might best serve the needs of Ontario.
We would like to thank our distinguished presenters who shared their knowledge and time:
- Adalsteinn Brown, Dalla Lana Chair, Public Health Policy at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto and Scientist, Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital
- Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Carl Vendette, Senior Manager, Executive Networks at The Conference Board of Canada
- Janet Davidson, O.C., President and CEO Trillium Health Centre
- Judith Shamian, President and CEO of the Victorian Order of Nurses
- Mark Smithyes, Health Policy Ontario, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada and Vice Chair, Ontario Committee
- Mary Kloosterman, CEO at Kingston Family YMCA
- Michael Hindmarsh, President of Hindsight Healthcare Strategies
- Robert Cushman, former Medical Officer of Health City of Ottawa and former CEO, Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)
What will the citizens recommend as possible solutions to address these issues? Stay tuned for the final deliberations this weekend and the citizens' recommendations launch on June 22, 2011.
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