Connected Care Update — October 15, 2021
A digitally-enabled navigation tool - contract award
As part of the government’s comprehensive plan to better connect care for patients and end hallway health care, Ontario is taking steps to expand access to digital and virtual care options. To make it easier and more convenient to access health care services and navigate the health care system, the Ontario government is awarding a contract to create a one-stop, digitally-enabled navigation tool with fully bilingual services that will increase access to care and improve equity.
This new navigation tool is part of Ontario’s Digital First for Health Strategy that will bring Ontarians more modern, accessible and digitally-enabled health care choices. It will feature one website and one number to call and support Ontarians’ health care journey, when and where they need it.
With this new tool expected to be ready in early 2022, Ontarians will have a ‘Digital Front Door’ to Ontario’s health care system, offering a place where they can have easier access to health information, advice, initial triage, symptom checking, mental health and addictions supports, home and community care, caregiver supports, information on finding a local doctor or nurse practitioner, and virtual care to become connected to health information and health care services across the province and to receive guidance throughout their health care journey.
The successful bidder consortium that will help develop Ontario’s new digitally-enabled navigation tool is Better Access Alliance, led by Orion Health. The members of the consortium include a number of companies with proven records in technology integration, health data and innovation fields, including SE Health, Bell Canada, Think Research, and Ada Health.
Orion Health was selected through an innovative public procurement process, guided by patients, families, caregivers, health service providers, and the imagination and capabilities of Ontario’s digital health innovators. A Fairness Commissioner was engaged during the evaluation stage to oversee the procurement process and to ensure its fairness and integrity.
This is a key step toward building a connected health care system that responds to patient and provider system navigation needs, while harnessing the expertise of digital health innovators to improve care for all Ontarians.
By simplifying and streamlining access to health care information and services, this digitally-enabled navigation tool will help maximize the capacity of the health care system and ensure Ontarians have access to safe, high-quality health care as we continue to respond to COVID-19.
Ontario Health will be assigned contract management for the navigation tool and will work closely with the consortium, the ministry, and key stakeholders to design and implement this service. The ministry and Ontario Health will continue to work closely with health care sector partners to harness their expertise and insights on how best to support health care system navigation and address patients and providers’ needs.
This tool needs time to be built. As we work on developing the health care navigation service, patients will continue to access the health care information and services in the same way as before. This tool is another way to improve access to care and it will not replace providers’ regular touch points with their patients.