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Dr. Joshua Tepper

Want to Improve Integrated Care in Ontario? Submit Your Project Proposal Now

The Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC) Program wants to support the next great project proposal that spreads integrated care across the province.

This week, the Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC) Program has announced its 2016/17 Call for Proposals. This innovative program is looking for projects that address the overarching theme of improving integration across care settings – specifically in ways that involve primary and community care sectors. Created by the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario and supported in partnership with Health Quality Ontario, ARTIC helps spread projects, rooted in clinical intervention, across the province.

The deadline to submit a Letter of Intent for ARTIC’s Call for Proposals is July 4, 2016. You can find more details here.

While all proposed projects on the theme of integration will be considered, this year ARTIC is particularly interested in projects that focus on seniors with complex co-morbid conditions or people affected by mental health and/or addictions.

The latter focus couldn’t be timelier. This week is also Mental Health Week (May 2-8), seven days dedicated to raising awareness to end the discrimination, stigma or shame felt by anyone with mental health issues.

Mental illness (either directly or indirectly) affects one in five people living in Canada. During Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association is hosting #GetLoud, a campaign designed to serve as a “giant megaphone for mental health” by rallying people to discuss mental health on social media and elsewhere.

Mental health and addictions are areas of health care widely recognized as having challenges with respect to access, transitions in care and equity. That’s one of the reasons why in our Strategic Plan we identified mental health and addictions care as one of our three emerging areas of focus.

One of our recent reports, a joint effort with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services, explored the impact of mental illness and addictions in Ontario and showed inconsistencies in the quality of services across the province. About two million people living in Ontario are affected by a wide variety of mental illnesses or addictions each year. In addition, one-third of people in Ontario who identified themselves as needing mental health or addictions services in a recent survey reported not getting help, or having their needs only partially met. In our yearly report, Measuring Up, we found that more than two-thirds of mental health patients do not receive a follow-up physician visit within seven days of discharge from hospital.

Two initiatives supported by ARTIC last year also looked at the theme of integration with a focus on mental health and addictions. META:PHI (Mentoring, Education, and Clinical Tools for Addiction: Primary Care-Hospital Integration) focuses on people struggling with opioid or alcohol addiction. It offers coordinated plans for recovery that often begin when a person visits an emergency room looking for help. This project integrates care provided by emergency department and hospital staff, primary care providers, and front-line community services, such as withdrawal management centres and shelters. It creates a pathway that lets patients move smoothly from emergency department care through to a rapid-access addiction clinic and onto a primary care provider.

The other ARTIC initiative is DA VINCI (Depression and Alcoholism – Validation of an Integrated Care Initiative), which involves concurrently treating people with both a major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence. This project brings together evidence-based pharmacological and psychotherapeutic approaches that are implemented by an integrated team of professionals all under one health care organization’s roof.

Another recently funded ARTIC project looked at the theme of integration through a different lens. Choosing Wisely – An Idea Worth Spreading helps physicians and patients have conversations about potential unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. It shares recommendations to reduce unnecessary medical treatments and has already seen success in several sites.

ARTIC is an important program because it allows projects like these, and many others, to flourish. It advances and accelerates new research, often reducing the time it takes to apply it within clinical settings by a generation (up to 15 years). It does this by dissolving barriers, while at the same time promoting the importance of solid evidence-based research.

Do you or does someone you know have the next great integrated care project? If you’re part of a project that’s seen early success in one organization and think it can be applied and spread to others, I’d encourage you to submit a Letter of Intent.

Together with the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario, I look forward to seeing the next round of project proposals and appreciate your help in sharing ARTIC’s new call.

Please contact artic@hqontario.ca should you have any further questions.

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