ETHP share insights about the future of digital integration at OCSA conference

Clockwise from top left, Alvin Cheng, director of health analytics and innovation at Ontario Health (Toronto Region); Alistair Forsyth, chief information officer at VHA Home HealthCare; Mehran Mehrdadi, vice president of administration and information systems at WoodGreen Community Services; and Amelia Hoyt, chief information officer at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH).

Last month, the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) hosted its annual Community Connect conference virtually. The event featured presentations from industry experts centred around integrated care and Ontario Health Teams (OHTs).

East Toronto Health Partners’ (ETHP) Digital Committee members were invited to take part in a panel discussion titled Virtual Care: Meeting Expectations for OHTs. ETHP Digital Committee chair Amelia Hoyt, chief information officer of Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), was joined by Alistair Forsyth, chief information officer at VHA Home HealthCare (VHA), and Mehran Mehrdadi, vice president of administration and information systems at WoodGreen Community Services, for the discussion moderated by Alvin Cheng of Ontario Health.

Alvin posed questions about the expectations of digital interoperability, how to successfully prepare to meet the technological requirements of OHTs and how to best meet clients’ increasing expectations. Each panelist shared unique perspectives about their shared goals as an OHT.

“In the context of our OHT, where our objective is to care for the whole person, we take joint accountability for that,” Alistair commented. “It’s going to be extremely important that we be able to liberate the data that lives in our different systems and share it with one another to improve quality and be able to orchestrate a clinical work flow that’s efficient and builds capacity.”

“WoodGreen, for example, operates in many different sectors from employment to health which adds to the complexity of data,” Mehran added. “We need to understand that data ownership and cyber security are at the foundation of creating seamless systems.”

“I think ETHP is a testament to how getting together to talk about where the gaps and challenges are can affect real change,” said Amelia.

“We see challenges with organizations at different levels of IT maturity, hence different levels of access and although we’re just looking at our own OHT right now, we are all facing the same challenges across the province,” she added.

The group discussed examples of improving patient outcomes through technology. These include a collaborative initiative that offers smartphones to MGH patients currently residing at an offsite hospital wing in the wake of a COVID-19 and a volunteer program at VHA that connects volunteers with providers and clients to offer virtual care tech support prior to initial virtual visits.

“The thing that ties all of us together is the patient,” remarked Alvin.

“I think we have to be cognizant that we’re going to live in an ecosystem that’s going to consist of different applications and we need to work towards ensuring that they can interoperate,” said Alistair.

“From the client perspective, it’s so important to not have to repeat your story.”