New Ecosystem Cultivates Innovation in Erie St. Clair

With an aging population, an explosion in technology options and a need to serve patients most efficiently, the healthcare sector is in the midst of a transformation. Driving many of these changes is a need to be more innovative and collaborative in providing services, programs and systems. To recognize this need, health service providers across the Erie St. Clair region are banding together to form an innovation ecosystem to support these efforts. 

The ecosystem is supported by the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network, TransForm Shared Service Organization, and the International Centre for Health Innovation at the Ivey Business School, Western University. It will provide a coordinated framework for the programs, partnerships, activities and services of health care providers and community support agencies with a common goal to achieve enhanced patient care through new or improved processes. The ecosystem is a first for the region and clearly illustrates the cooperation of the local health system’s collective desire to provide the best possible patient care.  

“Ecosystems depend on all parts working together in order to be successful” said Gary Switzer, CEO of the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). “Organizations do not work in isolation; services are intertwined. Changes to services or programs can cause ripple effects throughout the region’s health sector. This makes it vital to ensure that innovation efforts are supported by all of our health care partners.”

Sample Erie St. Clair Innovation Strategies:
  1. The Chatham-Kent Health Link: In Chatham-Kent, providers are re-envisioning how Ontario’s healthcare system can focus on the patient experience through measureable coordinated care. Together, the 14 partner organizations are sharing responsibility to lead or support six different streams of activity that are shaping a new direction for service delivery for high or frequent system users across the continuum. And impressively, they have implemented solutions to all six challenges. Moreover, they now understand in real-time who and where these particular patients are as well as when and what they need. The local healthcare system is being turned on its head – it’s dynamic, exhilarating and inspiring.

  2. Executive Program in Health System Innovation:  A new executive program designed to build capacity to support innovation across the Erie St. Clair LHIN.  An initiative of the Erie St. Clair LHIN, TransForm Shared Service Organization and the Ivey Business School , the program prepares senior level healthcare participants to design innovation projects that offer the potential to facilitate systems transformation in the region. In its first six months, the program has generated about 20 innovation projects. Alumni will form a community of innovative leaders to continue to push the region’s innovation agenda. 

  3. The Canadian Mental Health Association and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare have implemented a collaborative initiative that aligns and integrates their services.   This involves continued development of shared care planning processes to better support individuals with mental health needs in Windsor-Essex County.  

  4. The North Lambton Community Health Centre is developing a Harm Reduction Policy and Philosophy, in partnership with Kettle & Stony Point and supported by the University of British Columbia EQUIP Research Project.   A new satellite methadone support program is being established in the rural area which will approach addictions treatment through wellness and patient goals, looking at the needs of the whole person through health promotion and self-management strategies and demonstrates the importance of human centred innovations.  
The ecosystem involves more than 30 organizations across the Erie St. Clair region, ranging from the hospitals, family health teams, community health centres, the CCAC, and agencies such as the Victorian Order of Nurses, Alzheimer Society and physicians. In addition to the sample projects outlined, additional activities focus on mental health, smoking cessation and falls prevention. 

Shona Elliott, CEO, TransForm Shared Service Organization
“Relationships are central to understanding an ecosystem model. As the service provider to the five hospitals in the Erie St. Clair region, TransForm acts as a mobilizer in bringing many innovation projects to fruition  through advanced IT support and providing project management support.”  

Dr. Anne, Snowdon, Academic Chair, International Centre for Health Innovation at the Ivey Business School at Western University
“The Erie St. Clair innovation ecosystem creates a unique multiple partner environment to catalyze health innovation.  Partners from across the health continuum, industry, government and academia, have come together to develop the necessary skills and create the conditions to implement and adopt new and innovative approaches to health care and service delivery that will transform the current health system to achieve value for citizens.  Ultimately, this means a health system that supports the health and wellness of communities using better services and care for patients in the region.”