Posted October 24, 2016

Partnership, collaboration and health system integration

Alignment and accountability, focused on the why, can extend well beyond the immediate scope of any one organization to include all health partners in a region. In this fourth Insight from our five-part series on this year’s Studer Conferences Toronto, the spotlight is on the complex work healthcare organizations are doing to ensure a seamless patient experience along the continuum of care.

Aligned and collaborative leadership is an essential starting point for system integration. This includes the leadership teams of acute, community and long-term care services. Physician leaders – the focus of our previous Insight – are a key part of this process.

Integration is one of many critical leadership challenges. In the fifth and final part of our series, we profile how top leaders speaking at the Toronto conference are leading processes of change management and cultural transformation in demanding healthcare environments.

Three prominent organizations serving the large and culturally diverse region in the west of the Greater Toronto Area were represented at this year’s Toronto conference. William Osler Health System, Central West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and Headwaters Health Care Centre are regional partners engaged in an innovative and closely watched process of health system integration.

Matthew Anderson, CEO, William Osler Health System, uses Evidence-Based LeadershipSM (EBL) to help his organization stay focused during times of transition and transformation. He reflected on the “swirl of change” in healthcare, and how a framework of alignment and accountability is enabling William Osler and its partners to collaborate on common patient-centred priorities despite rapid change and pending provincial policy reforms. The partners are awaiting provincial direction before determining the ultimate structure of their regional system, but meanwhile integration is proceeding on multiple fronts, from strategic plan coordination to measurement and reporting to back-office functions.

Cathy Hecimovich, CEO, Central West CCAC, described how employee engagement is central to her organization’s efforts to implement the challenging integration agenda. She spoke frankly about barriers to change in a large, complex organization with resource constraints, and how these can be addressed through pilot projects, responsiveness to the input of frontline staff and a constant focus on patient care. Integration was “reframed as an amazing resource” to help staff meet current challenges. She concluded that “at times of transition if you have an engaged workforce you can move major milestones.” EBL is now being used to cement practices and take changes to the next level.

Cathy Hecimovich, CEO, Central West CCAC concluded that “at times of transition, if you have an engaged workforce you can move major milestones.”

Like her colleagues, Liz Ruegg, president & CEO, Headwaters Health Care Centre, is well aware of the challenges of crossing traditional health system boundaries, breaking down silos and introducing new forms of collaboration and teamwork. She sees seamless care as fundamental to her organization’s patient-focused mission, and believes there is an imperative to “do what’s right for patients”, even if that means confronting risks and uncertainties during periods of change and reform.

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