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Collaboration in action: Addressing the needs of Northwestern Ontario Health Teams through a collaborative approach

Posted on August 25, 2023
Collaboration in action: Addressing the needs of Northwestern Ontario Health Teams through a collaborative approach

An ongoing initiative led by NOSM University’s Centre for Social Accountability (CFSA) with the Northwestern Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) is working to fill a major health human resources gap.

The OHT Impact Fellowship Program matches Ontario Health Teams with researchers who conduct data analysis. But when the first cohort of the program failed to match researchers with Northwestern OHTs, it became clear that a different approach was needed to meet the unique needs of our region.

The solution? A teams-based approach to an existing Impact Fellowship. Proposed by the CFSA’s Drs. Erin Cameron, Academic Director, and Brianne Wood, Associate Scientist, along with health-care partners throughout Northwestern Ontario, the initiative was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health through the University of Toronto as part of a central program of supports for OHTs.

“By aligning the skills of NOSM University team members with local and regional needs, this approach nurtures relationships that extend beyond the one-year fellowship and integrates with ongoing projects led by Centre for Social Accountability scholars,” says Dr. Cameron.

The team created a data framework for health-care systems in Northwestern Ontario and has recently expanded to work with all Northern Ontario OHTs. The framework informs how data is used to improve the coordination and integration of health care in order to impact health at a population level. The goal is to support people who need to be knowledgeable about the health system as a whole—such as decision-makers, policymakers, and clinicians—with research.

“The data framework can be used to advance a regional health strategy. Our collaboration has the potential to identify needs within our health system and lead its transformation,” says Dr. Cameron.

The work builds on existing partnerships between NOSM University, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute, All Nations Health Partners OHT, Rainy River District OHT, the Northwestern Ontario Integrated Care Working Group, and the Rapid Improvement Support Exchange.

“Working with the NOSM University team on the OHT Impact Fellowship has been a true example of social accountability in action,” says Jessica Logozzo, Vice President, Strategy & Regional Transformation at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (working on behalf of the 12 hospitals in Northwestern Ontario). “The NOSM University team stepped in with an innovative, embedded team-based approach. By working directly with two OHTs on the issues that they self-identified, NOSM University’s team was able to co-produce research, evidence, and analytics that were most relevant to the OHT and partners—including data analytics for quality improvement plans. This partnership enabled meaningful research for our region that will enhance our collective efforts towards improvements in population health and system transformation.”