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Network Leadership

Building digital maturity through virtual networks

October 5, 2023

The challenges currently facing Ontario Heath Teams are unprecedented. Many OHTs are still in early development, and in the midst of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic they must also launch themselves into a new digital health world. They are tasked with improving clinical outcomes for patients and local populations and enhancing the operational efficiency of the workforce. New integrated care delivery systems must be designed with improved access in mind, while also leveraging existing digital and virtual tools among networks of local health care providers. It’s difficult to know where to begin on a journey towards digital maturity.

What is Digital Maturity?

 Digital maturity is the degree to which technologies are used to enable high-quality service delivery. A digitally mature organization will use multiple technologies harmoniously, each improving a specific part of a workflow or patient journey, to provide the best possible care and service access. When best-of-breed digital tools are used together, they enhance and compliment each other, rather than creating silos of duplicated data. There are many models of digital maturity, as maturity might look different in varying health care settings. These models act as a roadmap for organizations to understand gaps and set goals for improvement.


For Example: 

The Measure Evaluation Interoperability Toolkit identifies major components of interoperability for health systems and lays out paths to meet goals.
HIMSS has a suite of maturity models that cover domains like analytics and continuity of care.


Knowing where to start a digital transformation can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to perform a digital maturity self-assessment to help you understand how ready your organization is to leverage digital technologies. In the meantime, here are some can’t-go-wrong starting points for your digital health journey, and where Caredove can help:


1. Ensure Interoperability 

Strong transfers of care between organizations requires that digital systems be interoperable, that is, able to share information. This benefits clinicians, who perform less data processing, and patients, who can be confident information flows among providers without hassle or error. A strong interoperable digital ecosystem is one where the technologies work behind the scenes to send and receive data seamlessly and without duplication. 

Ontario has an eReferral interoperability specification, based on the HL7 FHIR standard. Systems like Caredove adhere to this standard ensuring information is not siloed into one system and accompanies the patient on their journey. 


2.  Provide patients with more choice & improving access to care 

Providing public access to your network of trusted services means giving your patients control over how and when they navigate the system and access their care. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is with online service search and service request resources:

  • Add a public facing website to help patients understand what your OHT does, with a built-in search for available OHT services.
  • Enable patients to electronically request service, book initial assessments and provide consent to share information. Provide in-person and virtual options.
  • Provide patients with alerts and reminders so there is no mystery about who will be helping them, or when.

Caredove provides the ability to build a patient facing homepage to market OHT services, with built-in search, electronic service requests and booking, enabling the patient to choose their service provider, appointment time, location, language and more. 


3. Increase access to community mental health and addictions services

With sensitive services such as counselling, it is vital for prospective clients to be able to choose the provider, time and delivery method of their session so they can ensure they are in a safe place to talk. This can be facilitated by regional collaborative networks of counselling organizations, which provide a shared virtual front door for patients to access services, while still enabling patient choice. 

Referrals to mental health and addictions services through Caredove grew an astonishing 827% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caredove is the service access platform for brief counselling initiatives like Counselling Connect, which enable a coordinated response across more than 20 mental health organizations virtually or in person. Caredove can also help build central intake systems for a stepped-care approach, like AccessMHA, ensuring that every door is the right door.


4. Rapidly enhance care for other priority populations

Caredove has been helping improve access to care in Ontario since 2013. With accelerated adoption during the pandemic, there now are over 800 organizations in Ontario actively receiving referrals in Caredove, with services discoverable in other systems like CHRIS, Ocean and Careteam. Whatever the priority population of your OHT, Caredove has trusted local community agencies in many important sectors - seniors, children, mental health and addictions - already onboarded to receive referrals.

These organizations can be swiftly assembled into virtual care networks for any OHT to improve access and navigation. By leveraging the existing natural network within the Caredove platform, networks can be deployed at a rapid pace and are easily scalable. Caredove has deployed 25+ large networks in Ontario and has a proven deployment playbook that makes it easy to launch an Ontario Health Team network, geared toward any patient priorities that are a Year One focus.


5. Leverage past technology investments

The Ontario Digital Health Playbook encourages OHTs to build-on existing infrastructure standards that respects the investment in existing taxpayer-funded provincial digital assets. 

One such asset is the provincial CHRIS system, used by thousands of care coordinators around the province. Caredove has collaborated with CHRIS to streamline care transitions to community services. Today, a care coordinator using CHRIS can search and book eReferrals through Caredove, without leaving CHRIS or needing to copy client information to a new system. It is easy and confusion-free, and thereby demonstrates a system that is better integrated, navigable and more digitally mature. This innovative solution is already deployed in several regions across Ontario.

Caredove has helped over 500,000 Ontarians navigate and book into community services and continues to help health care organizations implement, enhance, and scale virtual care programs and services to support integrated care delivery and reach digital maturity. By leveraging existing technologies and focusing on patient choice and digital access, Caredove helps to enable the exchange of data between health information systems and eliminate barriers to data accessibility and streamlined patient care.

Schedule a chat with us about your Ontario Health Team.

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