Health and Social Services plans system overhaul

The Department of Health and Social Services wants to reinvent the health-care system. Towards that end, it has hired consultants to look at where we are now, and where we need to go.

The Department of Health and Social Services wants to reinvent the health-care system.

Towards that end, it has hired consultants to look at where we are now, and where we need to go. The resulting 360-page report will be made public next week.

Department officials and members of the consulting team gave a technical briefing on the project to reporters on Thursday.

“The health system in particular is a complex, organic system – very dynamic, constantly changing. And to do any kind of change is a long journey, and that’s what today is about,” said deputy minister Paddy Meade.

The biggest change that the department hopes to work towards is having community hubs for health and social services based on a collaborative model.

That means that health services, mental health services and social services would be delivered out of the same location by a team of professionals. Increasingly, counselling and other services could be offered remotely through phone or video feed.

This sort of model is something that a lot of jurisdictions talk about, but few are able to do, said Meade.

“There’s lots of disadvantages in delivering health and social services in the Yukon – geography, limited numbers in communities. But there’s a great advantage. With this kind of data, we can actually be very leading-edge, and I think there are others that could learn a lot from us, because we’re just the right size to start to move the pieces.”

It will take a culture change to get there, said Meade.

“We’re trained in health and social services very much to be siloed.”

Another opportunity for change is in the area of palliative care, said Dr. David Peachey, one of the consultants.

“It became clear in our work that many people were concerned about palliative care. There’s about 250 people that die every year in Yukon territory. Not all of those people are candidates for palliative care, but many of the ones that are don’t feel they are having that choice of what can they do in their home or their community.”

All of the changes are about putting patient needs first, he said.

“The priority is the home and community care, and that’s where a lot of the energy has to go.”

Over the next year the department will develop a three-to-five year implementation plan, said Meade.

Some of the work has already started. For example, people in the communities who need to come to Whitehorse for surgery can now do their surgical consultation by telehealth, saving the extra trip, said Meade.

There is no final goal to the work, she said. It’s more about a process for continual change than a destination.

“When you’re doing transformational or large-scale change, you actually go forward and you continue to reassess. Is the data still appropriate? Are we still on the right track?”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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