Steinbach MLA and Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced that the Manitoba government is moving forward with plans for broad health-system changes that will improve the quality, accessibility and efficiency of health-care services across the province.
“Our government promised Manitobans a better health-care system – one that is more patient-focused and easier to access, with consistent, reliable services for patients across the province,” said Goertzen. “Our blueprint for change reflects the input of stakeholders from across the system and the leading practices of other jurisdictions. It provides a clear view of the overall health system transformation journey toward more integrated and effective health service delivery.”
The minister noted that between 2003 and 2016, health-care funding rose by 97 per cent. Despite these funding increases, Manitoba remains at or near the bottom of national rankings in a number of categories including waits for hip or knee replacement surgery, cataract surgery and physician assessments in emergency departments.
The blueprint describes the target state of the health system. It is intended to guide the transformation journey and outlines the role of each health organization, the functions it will perform in the target state and how organizations will interact with each other to achieve a more aligned and responsive health system for Manitobans.
“Until now, our health system has operated with many different organizations planning, delivering and evaluating health services in isolation of one another,” said Dr. Brock Wright, chief executive officer of Shared Health. “Health system transformation will determine priority areas through the creation of a clinical and preventive services plan that will identify gaps in service, establish standards of care and models of service delivery, and outline clear pathways for patients and providers.”
Currently, services are funded by the health department and organized through five regional health authorities, three health organizations and provincial services and facilities including the Selkirk Mental Health Centre and Cadham Provincial Laboratory.
In addition, there are more than 200 service delivery and stakeholder organizations, more than 250 service purchase agreements and 183 bargaining units. In the target state, plans are to have eight health organizations, seven boards, two standardized service purchase agreement templates and approximately 40 bargaining units.
“Manitobans pay more for a health system that lacks consistency in the standards, quality and delivery of services across the province,” said Goertzen. “Complexity increases costs and affects how care is delivered. By realigning the administrative and support functions of organizations, transformation will enable cost savings in some areas of the system, which can then be reinvested in priority areas.”
The first step of the transformation was the creation of Shared Health, which has been given a mandate to develop a provincial clinical and preventive services plan, lead health human resource bargaining and provide co-ordinated clinical and business support services to the province’s regional health authorities.
The clinical and preventive plan will include recommendations for service changes in rural Manitoba based on population need. Additional planning and evaluation is required to ensure consistent, reliable, high-quality services are available provincewide.
As the transformation continues, the role of the health department will be strengthened to focus on planning, performance and accountability management, as well as information management and analytics direct service delivery functions, meanwhile, will shift to Shared Health. These changes will ensure appropriate provincial oversight by the department of the system as a whole and reduce overlap between the department and health service providers.
“A better health system requires financial stability to enable continued and growing investment in priority front-line services, in the staff who deliver excellent patient care, and in the modern equipment and innovative technologies that our population should be able to access,” said Goertzen. “Patients will see more clearly defined pathways to care and experience improved access to services, shorter wait times and more consistent and reliable services in communities across the province.”
A program roadmap sets out the projects and activities required to get the health system from its current state to the target state. This work includes the identification of individual projects, program-wide activities, resource needs and a staging strategy with concrete timelines.
The minister noted the new structure will be both administratively and organizationally smaller – with fewer organizations (eight versus 12), fewer boards (seven versus nine), fewer bargaining units (approximately 40 instead of 183), and standardized service purchase agreement templates (two versus more than 250).
Common standards of care will be in place across the province, leveraging services that should be delivered provincially to ensure both excellent care and efficient delivery, he added.
Project updates and further information on health system transformation are available at www.gov.mb.ca/health/hst.