The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation working with partners Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) and the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA); have developed a framework that supports integrated, more efficient, equitable co-ordination of care for people living with spinal cord and acquired brain injury. While the ONF is slated to wind down operations as of March 31, 2021, the efforts of the Foundation to initiate this framework cannot be understated. With support from the Ontario Ministry of Health the work will continue to advance through the leadership of Dr. Mark Bayley, Chair of the Steering Committee.
Known as Neurotrauma Care Pathways, this approach will effectively create a “roadmap of care” within the health system and improve the health care experience of those living with neurotrauma. The “roadmap” will make best use of services and supports regardless of where the individual lives and how the injury occurred, all of which currently affect how treatment and services are delivered and paid for. Neurotrauma Care Pathways reflects the Ontario government’s goal to create a more integrated and patient-centred health care system in alignment with the health system transformation efforts now underway.
Why Neurotrauma Care Pathways?
Neurotrauma Care Pathways will be evidence-based and reflects a need identified by the SCI and ABI communities who have been and will continue to be actively involved in the next stage of planning. The idea first emerged more than four years ago and work to-date has been through consultation, study and collaboration between the partners including direct input from people living with SCI and ABI, their caregivers and families.
Leading organizations and individuals involved in caring for those living with SCI and ABI will be further engaged by the ONF-led collaboration. This will ensure attention is paid to understanding the gaps in the current fragmented and often inadequate approach to care, and the opportunities for improvement. The Neurotrauma Care Pathways approach reflects successful care models for illnesses and conditions such as cancer and stroke that require a patient to “journey” through the health care system. The particular focus will be ‘system needs’ for the transition to community within the first two years after injury, with a goal to set people up for best functional long-term outcomes and a system that can appropriately respond to their needs in the longer-term.
What are the benefits?
Simply put, Neurotrauma Care Pathways will improve the lives of individuals while creating new efficiencies within and across the public and privately funded healthcare landscape. Costs can be avoided by keeping people out of hospitals and crowded emergency departments, further reducing the incidence of hallway medicine. People will experience the highest possible level of functional recovery from neurotrauma, through equitable access to the right care, at the right place at the right time.
Improving health care outcomes for Ontarians affected by neurotrauma
Developing the detailed implementation plan for Neurotrauma Care Pathways will be a complex endeavour; requiring dedicated resources and committed participation from community and healthcare system stakeholders.
The next phase of work to realize Neurotrauma Care Pathways will focus on defining and developing the ideal pathways of care for each neurotrauma group (spinal cord injury, moderate to severe brain injury, concussion). All of the current gaps in care will be evaluated, strengths and best practices in the system and clinical care will be identified, and the ideal pathways of care will be developed with consultation at many points along the way. And finally, a detailed implementation plan will be developed along with tools, resources and measures to ensure the goals are achieved.
A Steering Committee was established during the development of the model and is ready to guide the work of the planning phase.