Earlier this year I wrote about partnering with primary care providers and other professionals through Health Links, and about the importance of providing integrated care for the people we serve.
Collaborating with our patients, community and health system partners isn’t a “nice to have” – it’s a necessity if we are to provide truly seamless care, and we are committed to doing so in a meaningful and effective manner. Earlier this summer, we engaged with another group in a new way: the service provider organizations (SPOs) with whom we work in partnership to deliver care to our patients.
We work closely with our SPOs on many fronts, particularly in an effort to improve the quality and value of the care we provide. And although this work is highly collaborative, our frontline staff often work as virtual teams rather than face-to-face. Enabled by technology, much of their communication occurs via secure computer systems and over the telephone – efficient, certainly, but also a bit of a missed opportunity to really connect.
With our SPO partners we decided to change that, and held two half-day sessions that ultimately brought 286 frontline staff together to meet in person, talk about their challenges, and share their ideas about improving patient care. While all participants were frontline care providers – CCAC care coordinators assess patients and build care plans, while SPOs deliver the required care – they all have distinct roles in serving patients. In addition to learning more about one another, the event also gave them an opportunity to visit information booths, listen in on a panel discussion and hear a thought-provoking keynote address from Sue VanderBent, executive director of the Ontario Home Care Association.
When it was over, 92% of participants told us they would attend the event again, and many shared their own personal learnings and “a-ha” moments. For me, a highlight was the tabletop discussions that engaged staff in a dialogue about improving home and community care. During the discussions, participants were asked to contemplate questions such as How can we communicate more effectively with each other? How can we together maximize patient safety and minimize risk? and If you were a patient, what would quality service mean to you?
Their answers provided great insight into what’s going well and where we can collectively do things better. Our next step? Collaborating once again to review the responses and develop a plan to implement the ideas we received – all with the goal of creating higher quality, more collaborative and more seamless care.