Ever do something that you think is a great idea, that you feel deep down is the right thing to do, but still carries an element of risk? And then it turns out even better than you expected? That’s how I feel today, reflecting on the anniversary of our back-office integration with our hospital partners.
One year ago on August 5, 2014, the Central West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) with Headwaters Health Care Centre (Headwaters) and William Osler Health System (Osler) announced a first in Ontario; an innovative partnership that joined our non-clinical (administration or ‘back office’) support functions to improve our collective ability to meet the health care needs of our communities.
The Central West CCAC has always worked closely with our acute care hospital partners in the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) on initiatives to improve patient transitions from hospitals to the home or to community care. This move took our partnership to a whole new level however, and has been a year filled with great success and a lot of learnings.
As we hoped, we built solid foundations and delivered positive results. What we didn’t expect was the wave of creative ideas for further collaborations the integration is inspiring among the partners! Read on for just a few examples of our work over this past year:
Regional Planning Initiatives
For the first time, all three organizations worked together to create our Quality Improvement Plans and Annual Business Plans. By aligning our goals and monitoring them using a set of common metrics, we will have a more positive and far-reaching influence on patient experience throughout the Central West region.
Joint Leadership Structure
We created a new Joint Non-Clinical Executive Team that has allowed us to pool our collective resources and share the expertise of all three organizations. The new Joint Vice Presidents, who report to all three CEOs, are responsible for five cross-organizational portfolios: Facilities and Redevelopment; Finance; Human Resources; Management and Information Technology; and Patient Experience, Communications and Strategy. This new approach to leadership of these functions has really energized the senior teams; it’s exciting to work in an environment that fosters collaboration and creative thinking with partners who share common goals!
Regional Seasonal Surge Planning and Response
The integration proved its value as we planned for and responded to a large patient surge due to a spike in flu activity during the exceptionally busy holiday season. Between December 22 and January 4, there was a 13 per cent increase in patient visits at Headwaters, and a six percent increase at Osler’s hospitals. During that same time period, the Central West CCAC experienced an almost 63 per cent increase in patient referrals from hospitals!
Yes, you read that correctly: 63%. The CCAC plays a crucial role in helping hospitals free up acute care beds for those in urgent need by safely transitioning patients to the community as soon as possible after they have been through the Emergency Department or hospital inpatient units. The CCAC helps create this much-needed space by arranging the home or residential care necessary for patients to make the safe transition from hospital to home.
To ensure our patients continued to receive outstanding care, the three organizations acted quickly and responded as a team – enabling us to discharge patients, knowing those who needed excellent care at home would be able to receive it.
A Great First Year
While the first year has produced excellent results, the amazing thing is seeing how each collaboration sparks more ideas for improving the patient experience in the Central West region. This is an exciting time for health care in this region, and the best is certainly yet to come. We are looking forward to sharing more news about this partnership in the time to come.