In early December 2012, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care announced the creation of 19 early adopter community Health Links across the 14 LHINs. Over time, Health Links will expand across the province.
What are Health Links?
Health links bring local health care providers together and ensure that people are at the centre of their care. This will give family doctors the ability to connect patients with specialists, home care services and other community supports, including mental health service.
The Health Links programs assist to close any gaps happening when a patient moves from one provider to another, and allows for faster follow-up and helps reduce the likelihood of readmission to the hospital. This will result in better patient care and strengthen partnerships in the community.
Coordination of Care
Coordinating care is an important step in improving the service available to patients with complex needs. Typically, these patients are seniors, have multiple chronic diseases and mental illness. Often, the Health Link’s patients defer to the hospital emergency departments for care and are repeatedly readmitted when they could be receiving care in the community.
A recent study reports that 75 per cent of seniors with complex needs who are discharged from hospital receive care from six or more physicians and 30 per cent get their drugs from three or more pharmacies – resulting in sub-optimal care that costs the health care system more.
Patients with the greatest health care needs make up five per cent of Ontario’s population, but use services that account for approximated two-thirds of Ontario’s health care dollars.
Better Coordination of care for these patients will result in better care and significant health system savings that can be devoted to all patients, ultimately improving sustainability of public health care.