Dollars for care

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Premier Dalton McGuinty’s action plan for health care is now ensuring changes to hospital funding, as it will now take that of a patient-based funding model.
The new patient-based funding model, which will be phased into hospitals over three years starting in 2012, will compensate health care organizations based on the number of patients and their specific needs. The quality of those services, and the specific needs of the broader population they serve.

For the hospitals that will switch to this new system, they will now require shorter wait times and allot their patients better access to care in their communities. Also, more services will be applicable when needed, as well as the guarantee that better quality care with less variation between hospitals will be taken into effect.

This new model differs from the current funding system, as hospitals currently get a sum total founded on their preceding year’s financial statement, while no link to the type or quality of care they provide were made.

Don Shilton, the president of St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo, has stated that St. Mary’s will partake in these upcoming changes starting this year.

Despite the good intentions and goals that the system will offer to hospitals throughout Ontario, Shilton addresses that the plans need to be finalized before one makes the decision about if it will be resourceful or not. “I like the concept of money following the patient and I like the concept of quality being a factor in the funding,” Shilton addressed. “However, until we understand the actual results of the calculation, its hard to tell whether the system will be helpful for our patients.” Although there are still pending discussions with funding agencies, Mark Karjaluoto, director of communications at Grand River Hospital in Waterloo, believes that the new system will do a variety of different changes for hospitals across Ontario. “We are seeing a population growth and we are seeing a population that is also getting older and have clinical needs,” Karjaluoto said.

“If we have a formula that recognizes that we may be in a better position to provide service.” Karjaluoto also added that there was going to be funding for various procedures starting in April. These procedures will include hip and knee replacements, dialysis and cataract surgery. Grand River Hospital currently does not do cataract surgery, but Karjaluoto believes that the new funding will meet their needs.

Due to the size of both Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital, they will partake in the patient-based funding system, whereas 55 small hospitals will be excluded.

“A smaller hospital has a certain cost just associated with keeping the doors open in terms of heat and light and providing service. A hospital in a small community may not be able readily increase the service it’s providing to be able to take advantage of higher volumes of service,” Karjaluoto explained.
“I think the government looked at this and realized that not all hospitals would be funded the same, and they need to be responsive to the different institutions around them.”

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