In Ontario, health care costs consume 40 cents of each tax dollar collected and based on current trends in inflation, population growth and aging, the cost for health care will continue to grow. Chronic disease is becoming more common and people are living longer, which puts additional pressure on the system.
At this rate, we cannot afford to continue along this path.
The demand for health care services is growing faster than the funds available. Our current health care system relies heavily on expensive unscheduled care, which is unsustainable in the long run. Hospitals all across the province are dealing with this challenge and Osler is not immune. We can make two changes now so we can continue to provide patient-inspired health care to our communities well into the future:
- Increase our capacity to treat more patients with the same resources without sacrificing quality
- Reduce the future demand for health care services by focusing on prevention
This is easier said than done. But we know this is a challenge we can’t afford (literally) to ignore. We’ve spent much of the past year delivering on our Strategic Plan, developing our new Clinical Priorities Plan and building relationships with health care partners so we can meet these challenges head on. Some of the approaches Osler is taking include:
- Shifting our areas of focus to meet the changing needs of the patient population. To do this we must be deliberate in shifting much-needed funding from underutilized areas to invest in areas where there is high demand (e.g. outpatient services).
- Management of chronic diseases on an outpatient basis remains a top priority at Osler. One example of this approach is our diabetes education centre and the Centre for Complex Diabetes Care, which provide support for newly diagnosed patients as well as highly specialized care from a multidisciplinary team for patients with complex needs. Equipping patients with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage their condition keeps them healthier and out of the emergency department.
- Specially designed facilities will elevate the impact and value of outpatient care by offering community education, prevention, chronic disease management and treatment, and wellness programs to the people living in our region.
- Modern advances in medicine and technology have given us the tools to begin shifting our focus from illness to wellness. Virtual care programs, like Telehomecare, extend the reach of health professionals and provide ongoing support to patients in their homes. For example, Telehomecare nurses at Osler remotely monitor the health of patients on a daily basis. Each nurse can impact the lives of dozens of patients simultaneously.
These are but a few examples of the work Osler is undertaking to improve the delivery of health care. As the health care landscape continues to shift, we will remain committed to finding innovative approaches to health care that will best serve patients in our community.