Skip to main content

Central diagnostic image repository coming to Ontario. But will this mean more care closer to home?

The transnational corporation GE Healthcare has announced the completion of a Digital Imaging Repository that connects hospitals and medical centers throughout Southwestern Ontario.  This will allow  26 hospitals in the Erie St. Clair LHIN and South West LHIN to share diagnostic images of examinations.

The repository already contains images from 2.7 million exams and will grow by 120,000 new exams each month. These exams can be accessed by acute care facilities in the two LHINs.

Greg Reed, CEO of eHealth Ontario, the organization responsible for implementing the Ontario government’s "eHealth" agenda states “Now radiologists, referring physicians and specialists across Southwestern Ontario can view images and results anywhere, anytime using the Southwestern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network.”

GE Healthcare says "This collaboration enables radiologists to access images that originated in other facilities. Referring physicians can receive patient reports faster. Patients benefit from faster treatment planning, more informed diagnoses and a reduction in unnecessary transfers."

"Information sharing is critical in cancer care," said Dr. Glenn Bauman, Head of Radiation Oncology, London Regional Cancer Program. "By linking to regional hospitals, our specialists can work with local physicians so patients can get care closer to home without compromise in the quality and treatment planning process. This is the preferred patient care model."

Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care adds: "It means that patients are able to access specialists outside of their community without having to travel."
While the provincial government has quietly placed considerable emphasis on centralizing hospital services, it seems that emerging technologies enable a larger role for local hospitals, where care can actually be provided closer to home, rather than in distant centres.

eHealth Ontario states that the plan is to expand the system into the Waterloo Wellington and Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHINs.  The London Free Press however reports that  "by 2013 eHealth officials plan to have the entire province hooked up to the repository."


Popular posts from this blog

Ontario long-term care staffing falls far short of other provinces

CUPE and others are campaigning for a legislated minimum average of four worked hours of nursing and personal care per resident per day in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  New research indicates that not only is LTC underfunded in Ontario, it is also understaffed compared to the other provinces. 
LTC staffing falls short:  The latest data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (and based on a mandatory survey undertaken by Statistics Canada) indicates that staffing at long-term care (LTC) facilities falls far short of other provinces. 
Part of this is driven by a low level of provincial funding for LTC.

Ontario has 0.575 health care full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per bed staffed and in operation.[1]  The rest of Canada reports 0.665 health care FTEs.[2] The rest of Canada has 15.7% more health care staff per bed staffed and in operation than Ontario.[3] 

No other province reports fewer LTC health care staff per resident (or per bed) than Ontario.[4]

Occupancy r…

More spending on new hospitals and new beds? Nope

Hospital funding:  There is something off about the provincial government's Budget claims on hospital capital funding (funding to build and renovate hospital beds and facilities).   

For what it is worth (which is not that much, given the long time frame the government cites), the province claims it will increase hospital capital spending over the next 10 years from $11 billion to $20 billion – or on average to about $2 billion per year.  But, this is just a notional increase from the previous announcement of future hospital capital spending. 

Moreover, even if we did take this as a serious promise and not just a wisp of smoke, the government's own reports shows they have actually funded hospital infrastructure about $3 billion a year over the 2011/12-2015/16 period.

So this “increase” is really a decrease from past actual spending. Even last year's (2016-17) hospital capital funding increase was reported in this Budget at $2.3 billion - i.e. about 15% more than they have ann…

Health care funding falls, again

Real provincial government health care funding per-person has fallen again this year in Ontario, the third year in a row.  Since 2009 real funding per-person has fallen 2.6% -- $63 per person. 

Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 -- 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).

Ontario funds health care less than any other province -- indeed, the province that funds health care the second least (B.C.) provides $185 more per person per year, 4.7% more.  
Provincial health care spending in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario) is now  $574 higher per person annually than in Ontario. 

 Ontario has not always provided lower than average health care funding increases-- but that has been the general pattern since 2005.
Private expenditures on health care have exceeded Ontario government increases …