Patients First Act – Bill 210

Image of doctor and senior patient hands

Bill 210, the Patients First Act, was introduced by the Ontario government on June 2, 2016. As its name suggests, the focus of Bill 210 is to create a patient-focused health care system.

If passed, the Patient First Act would replace the current Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) model, and expand the role of Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), particularly in the areas of home and community care. The Act is designed to make it easier for patients to access care, irrespective of where they live by establishing a formal link between local health units and LHINs. The Act aims to achieve this by:

• Improving access to primary care for patients – such as a single number to call when they need to find a new family health care provider close to home;

• Improving local connections and communication between primary health care, hospitals, and home and community care to ensure more equitable access and a smoother patient experience;

• Ensuring that patients only have to tell their story once, by enabling health care providers to share and update their health care plans;

• Making it easier for doctors, nurses, and other primary care providers to connect their patients to the health care they need;

• Providing smoother patient transitions between acute, primary, home and community, mental health and addictions, and long-term care;

• Improving consistency of home and community care across the province so that people know what to expect, and receive good care regardless of where they live in the province;

• Strengthening health planning and accountability by monitoring performance;

• Ensuring public health has a voice in health system planning by establishing a formal relationship between LHINs and local boards of health; and

• Facilitating local health care planning to ensure decisions are made by people who best understand the needs of their communities, and that LHIN boards reflect the communities they serve. https://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2016/6/ontario-introduces-legislation-to-further-improve-patient-access-and-experience.html

If passed, the Act would also amend 20 statutes; including the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 (LHSIA). Some of the Amendments to the LHSIA are designed to expand the powers of the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Minister), these include:

• New section 11.1 gives the Minister the power to issue operational or policy directives to LHINs;

• New section 11.2 gives the Minister the power to issue provincial standards for the provision of health services;

• New section 12.1 gives the Minister the power to appoint investigators to investigate local health integration networks. http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do;jsessionid=c72d607930d8d484e0e7f2294b5b8d2991eaa3f886f7.e3eRb3iNcheNe34Qb3qQb34Raxb0n6jAmljGr5XDqQLvpAe?locale=en&BillID=4054&isCurrent=false&ParlSessionID

Given Ontario’s aging population that needs more home care on a chronic basis, one of the major aims of the Act is to make the transition to home care more seamless. This should, in turn, reduce preventable hospital admissions, unnecessary emergency department visits, and repeated tests.

Associate Editor
Sana Ebrahimi