September 2016

While the continued warm weather may have you questioning what month it is, the return of yellow school buses to our roadways is proof that September and the start of another school year is indeed upon us.

Just as the brightly coloured vehicles are key to getting students to and from school, transportation services are equally important in helping patients arrive for medical appointments and procedures.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I frequently use this space to highlight some of the great work happening here in the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN. While my focus is often on innovations or improvements to front-line health services, the reality is that for many, transportation is a major barrier to accessing care. This is especially true for those who need to travel outside their home communities or who have mobility issues that make using public transit a challenge. One provider that is making a difference for patients across the region by ramping up its efforts to efficiently get patients from point A to point B is the Canadian Red Cross.

Over the past year, Canadian Red Cross Transportation Services has successfully implemented new processes and established partnerships with other regional health service providers requiring client/patient transportation in order to increase the number of rides it provides.

Previously, the agency was falling short of targeted transportation volumes and, together with the LHIN, worked to develop a plan to improve efficiency. The first step was the implementation of a new software platform for scheduling rides. The ability to better plan and coordinate client trips around common pick-up points and destinations not only enabled the Canadian Red Cross to reach performance targets, but also created the opportunity to establish partnerships with other health service providers with transportation needs.

One example of such collaboration is with the Centre de Santé in Welland, which, among other things, is home to one of Niagara Region’s dialysis clinics and also operates a Caring for My COPD program. Both programs had clients traveling at similar times with a common destination and were using more expensive taxi services to meet the transportation needs of clients. The Canadian Red Cross approached the two groups this past year and developed a strategic partnership to transport clients to and from their appointments. The partnership allowed Canadian Red Cross to better group trips together in order to utilize the full capacity of its vehicles and also allowed the programs to focus on their core services rather than coordinating transportation. The partnership has also reduced transportation costs and increased convenience for clients.

This collaboration and integration of services among health service providers is precisely the type of system level improvement that LHINs were created to facilitate and support. As we look to the future and our prospective new role under a proposed Patients First bill (originally introduced in June as Bill 210), we are excited at the possibility of working more closely with a broader spectrum of the health system including Home and Community Care, Primary Care and Public Health.

On September 8, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario announced the prorogation of the Legislature which enabled the delivery of a Speech from the Throne outlining the government’s plans for the new session ahead of the legislature reconvening as previously scheduled on September 12, 2016. While prorogation brought a halt to moving Bill 210 forward to second reading, the government has committed to promptly reintroducing all government bills, so that debate on them can continue. 

Our LHIN continues planning under the expectation that the bill will be reintroduced and progress along the original timeline. In preparation for the passing of a Patients First bill, our LHIN has been working to ensure we are ready for our enhanced new mandate. At the end of August we completed a series of public webinars as well as symposiums for health service providers and physicians to share details of the Patients First bill and gather feedback on the development of LHIN sub-regions. This feedback was used to shape recommendations for sub-region geographies which will be going to our September board meeting for endorsement before being submitted to the government at the end of the month.

As we continue our planning we look forward to keeping you informed on our progress and encourage you to visit the Patients First page on our website for up to date information.

Click Here to learn more about Canadian Red Cross Transportation Services.

Click Here to visit our Patients First webpage

If you or your organization would like to be featured in a future blog or share a patient story in one of our Voices in the Community videos you can reach us through our office, or if you’re on social media via our Twitter handle -@HNHB_LHINgage. Your feedback and questions are always welcome.