Matt Anderson, CEO of William Osler Health Foundation at the announcment of opening of Peel Memorial Hospital in 2015.
“These [CCACs] are the folks..who keep people in the community from coming to the ER..that’s the agency we thing we have the biggest relationship with.”
Matt Anderson, CEO of William Osler Health System is becoming a household name in the Punjabi community of Region of Peel. He is seen at gurdwaras and at local South Asian events to establish stronger relationship with the South Asian community.
As a CEO, he is grateful to the South Asian community for its warmth, continuous support and constructive feedback. In fact he urges the community to provide him and the William Osler staff with constructive criticism.
With a degree in English, Mr. Anderson started his career in healthcare industry almost two decades ago from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He was contracted to write the Hospital’s strategic plan. The aspect of working with healthcare “felt pretty meaningful to me. I really enjoyed that,” he tells Generation Next. So there was no going back for him.
With knowledge of computers at a time when computers were largely unheard of, Mr. Anderson worked with healthcare and IT for almost a decade when he switched gears to become a healthcare administrator.
As an experienced healthcare administrator, Mr. Anderson believes that e-health system will have a huge impact on Ontario’s healthcare system.
“It’s hard to imagine running an industry as big as healthcare with such little..connected information,” he says.
He also believes that a number of things in healthcare system have conspired against providing a coordinated healthcare to Ontarians. Nonetheless with e-health records, general practitioners (GPs), hospital staff and other healthcare providers will have all the patient information at one place, helping reduce waste and inefficiency in the system.
Mr. Anderson cites an example of instituting a change in the hospital system. When the e-system, for example is introduced, for a period of time when e-system in under development, the hospital has to maintain paper charts. So the hospital in incurring the cost of maintaining paper charts as well as developing e-system.
Another challenge is that if prevention of diabetes program, for example, is introduced today, there is already a cohort of people who are diabetic and need dialysis. Therefore, there are dollars that need to go into prevention model. At the same time, patients who are already suffering from the disease need to be provided adequate care.
“There is the need to change the system. That is really, really hard to do, but it needs to be done. If the change has to be forced, then it has to be forced,” says Mr. Anderson.
If there is such great waste and inefficiency in the system, why doesn’t anybody do anything about it?
At the hospital level, the hospitals are taking action to be more effective in providing healthcare. Mr. Anderson points out the merger of University Health Network and Toronto Rehab Institute that will result in better care for patients. In Mississauga, Trillium and Credit Valley Hospital boards have also decided not to wait for the government to take action, and taken the lead to provide the better care.
At William Osler, Mr. Anderson says “we’re still dealing with our last merger.” Peel Memorial Hospital was merged with Brampton Civic Hospital. However, William Osler is looking into collaborating with Community Care Access Centres (CCACs).
“These [CCACs] are the folks..who keep people in the community from coming to the ER..that’s the agency we thing we have the biggest relationship with,” he says.
At the governmental level, Mr. Anderson says “it’s risky for them..putting money into infrastructure. There are vested interests. There are people in the system who are doing very very good job. Their jobs will have to change…they can lobby to say that we don’t want change, but the government has to have the courage to say that it will change.”
Additionally, polls after polls have indicated that public trusts healthcare providers more than they trust politicians. So if the healthcare providers say something is not right, “it’s hard for them [politicians] to push for the change. They have real work to do,” says the CEO of William Osler Health System.
Nonetheless, he does give credit to the Liberal government for some of its measures. “They [the Liberal government] did a good job when they took on the big pharma companies,” he says. Excellent Care for All Act, a legislation passed under the Liberal government, he says, needs to be extended beyond the hospital sector to primary care providers, long term care homes and CCACs.
As a CEO of one of the busiest Health Systems of Ontario, Mr. Anderson’s hope from the next Government of Ontario is “to continue down the path of saying, fairly aggressively..here’s the reform we need in our system.”
Mr. Anderson believes that the priorities in the healthcare system must be set by politicians because they are elected by people. So the polls had indicated in the past that the longer ER wait times are a major concern for people in Ontario. The government, hence, said to hospitals and LHINs that reducing wait times at ER is a priority which is “totally reasonable,” however the solution to long ER wait times will be different at Brampton Civic Hospital than it is at a hospital in London.
The Former CEO of Toronto West LHIN, Mr. Anderson is all for Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). He says virtually every jurisdiction in the world has a regional model of providing care.
“I just don’t want to see it centralized at Queen’s Park,” he says not because he was the former CEO of a LHIN but because the healthcare needs for the Region of Peel are different from Ottawa or Thunder Bay.
Mr. Tim Hudak, the leader of PC Party has vowed to scrap LHINs. In an interview with Generation Next, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said that the spirit with which LHINs were formed has been lost. “They were meant to engage the local communities..put priority on community’s healthcare needs,” LHINs haven’t done that says Ms. Horwath. Hospitals may be happy with LHIN’s performance, however “I am not interested in keeping hospitals happy, my job is to make people happy..and if people are not happy with their healthcare system, they can’t access it when they need it, then we have a problem,” she stated. Liberal Minister of Health Deb Matthews supports LHINs quite aggressively.
Nonetheless, Mr. Anderson cites the example of Alberta that moved from regional to centralized model and then back to the regional model of providing healthcare.
PC has also casted doubts on healthcare announcements that have been made extensively over the past few days by the Liberal government.
As an industry expert, what does Mr. Anderson think about these announcements?
Not speaking about other regions, Mr. Anderson says that as far as William Osler is concerned “we look at it from process perspective. If I had had these announcements and I wasn’t involved with capital branch [of Ministry of Health] and we weren’t talking with Infrastructure Ontario, then I’d be a little skeptical, I’d be a little worried about what’s happening here..Everything is happening the way it should be. If it was just the show, we won’t be wasting time with the Capital branch and Infrastructure Ontario.”
While Mr. Anderson would like to see healthcare depoliticized, he also shares fondly how his father who lived in Toronto Central West LHIN region would blame the Minister of Health for everything that will go wrong in the healthcare system. “And most people are like that,” he says.
For South Asian parents who encourage their kids to be healthcare professionals, we asked Mr. Anderson to predict jobs of the future in healthcare.
He feels that the jobs in the healthcare may not be the same as they are today. However, there may be a lot of engineering and IT jobs in healthcare industry in the next decade or so. Personal Support Workers (PSWs) can also be in high demand as healthcare system moves to provide aging population the care they need in the comfort of their homes.