3 Ontario hospitals launch partnership to improve care for kids
SickKids CEO says aim of Kids Health Alliance is to provide more coordinated approach to care
Three Ontario hospitals have launched an official partnership aimed at improving health care for children who receive services at more than one facility.
The new Kids Health Alliance, formally created in Toronto on Wednesday, is designed to improve pediatric care in the province in part through better communication.
The Hospital for Sick Children, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario — Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre all founded the alliance.
Dr. Michael Apkon, president and CEO of SickKids, said the alliance is designed to improve the pediatric health system by improving access to what he called consistent, high quality care for children and their families.
"Kids who face illness, injury or disability rely on a complex network of providers that involve hospitals, home and school environments, as well as a spectrum of publicly funded and unfunded community services," Apkon told reporters.
"Each of these many excellent providers in Ontario have a narrow area of responsibility and families bear a disproportionate burden in trying to co-ordinate their care.
"Kids Health Alliance arises from the need to better serve these kids and their families, to drive better communication between providers, to provide high quality care, to provide it closer it to home where possible, and to partner on initiatives such as joint clinics and integrated health records."
Matthew suffers from a neurological condition diagnosed after he suffered his first seizure when he was five. Once an active boy, he now cannot walk or speak, is fed through a tube, has many seizures daily, but is cognitively aware. He communicates with his family through cards and his iPad.
Stephanie Paravan said his seizures "impede" his daily life. The alliance will make coordinating his complex care needs easier, she said.
"It will help alleviate some of the burden on us as parents in making sure information is exchanged accurately and knowing that, regardless of what centre Matthew is being seen in, they will eventually have access to the all same information and test results," she said in Toronto.
"It's very encouraging. Another piece, I think, that will not necessarily help our family but will help other families, is that it will ease transitions from centre to centre, or from city to city, when people have been sent to a city for specialized treatment. When they are returning home, they will know their home facility will have access to everything that happened while that child was away."
Paravan said she hopes the alliance becomes "a true collaboration" between facilities, families, pediatricians and other specialists. She said it could save time for parents and it means parents can breathe a little easier knowing that the people who are making major decisions about their children's health care have the same information.
Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins said the provincial government is pleased to support to the alliance.
"We want a system where repetition is avoided, pathways are streamlined, navigation is simple, care is coordinated and consistent, and patients always feel like their needs are the top priority," Hoskins said in a news release.
Through the alliance, the three hospitals hope to: improve access to health records through shared technology platforms; improve quality of care and safety by embedding best clinical practices and principles.
They also hope to improve access to care closer to home; enhance the coordination of health-care delivery by creating consistent approaches; make transitions easier when patients are transferred from one health-care provider to another; and promote innovation by collaborating on research and education.