WINCHESTER — In Ontario, five percent of the population accounts for two-thirds of health care costs. These are most often clients with multiple, complex conditions.
The Upper Canada Health Link (UCHL), led by Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH), has been helping the most vulnerable clients in the region for the past 18 months and the benefits are clear, according to the hospital, with better, more coordinated care.
“Care coordinators design a care plan for each UCHL client and work together with clients, their families and their care teams to ensure they receive the care they need. Everyone is on the same page and working together,” explains Laurie Hogan, program administrator. “We see clients every day who need some extra help and we see the benefits of wrapping care around them.”
To date, more than 120 referrals have made to the UCHL and 85 clients now have Coordinated Care Plans. The UCHL has also completed at least 17 care conferences, bringing the client together with their circle of care, including family members, doctors and community organizations. The average client is 73 years of age and may take up to 29 different medications each day.
“My patients benefit from hearing one voice from the various providers in their circle of care. They tell me they don’t feel lost in the shuffle and they feel in control of their own care,” explains family physician Dr. Marilyn Crabtree.
And the impact goes beyond the clients. “Since the Upper Canada Health Link was created, the number of visits to WDMH’s Emergency Department by UCHL clients has been reduced by 118. That results in more appropriate care and a potential savings of $38,000,” adds Lynn Hall, Senior Vice President, Clinical Services.
Nation Valley News regrets that the previous version of this article confused WDMH’s cloud-based regional care initiative — LHINworks — with the Upper Canada Health Link. Hospital spokesperson Jane Adams explains that the UCHL is a strategy, not a technology, that sees an actual person — Laurie Logan in this case — coordinating the care for high-needs patients across different supporting agencies in the area. “There are so many great initiatives for patient care at WDMH, it’s easy to get them confused,” says Adams.
The UCHL is one of about 90 similar pilots across Ontario, according to Adams.
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