2016-17 was the third and final year of Eastern Health’s Strategic Plan 2014-17: Together We Can; a plan that chose to prioritize 4 key areas to focus on improving (listed below). An annual report released yesterday outlines how they made out with those initiatives.

Access

Decreased ER wait times was a priority of this area of focus, and Eastern Health met the emergency department Wait Time to Physician Initial Assessment benchmark.

This means that at least 90% of ER patients had a physician or nurse practitioner give them an initial assessment within three hours of arrival. The figure for 2016-17 was 91.1%. By comparison, in 2015-16, this number was 87.4%.

“Improved Access” should also extend to patients getting the right level of care at the right time and place, to avoid hospitalizations where possible. As Strategic Plan 2014-17: Together We Can states, “a good example of appropriate access is having individuals with diabetes well-managed at home through access to health professionals like diabetes educators and dietitians rather than being treated in hospital for complications related to their disease, such as foot ulcers or loss of kidney function.” Perhaps this will be addressed in the next strategic plan, as it wasn’t this time around.

Quality and Safety

The goal here was to build an integrated safety strategy, to strengthen the culture of safety in the hospital. They succeeded in increasing the rate of hand hygiene compliance from 60.3% to 70.5% this year over last.

They also developed their Business Continuity Management Plan across all program areas; part of this entails ensuring that Eastern Health is prepared to deliver their programs and services during all circumstances, including during times of emergency.

 Sustainability

Strategic Plan 2014-17: Together We Can read, “Research provides a strong rationale for investing in employee and workplace health, as they are ‘inextricably linked to productivity, high performance and success.’ In keeping with this belief, Eastern Health began its healthy workplace journey by becoming a member of Excellence Canada and participating in the Progressive Excellence Program (PEP) Healthy Workplace.”

Decreasing rate of sick leave was a goal of the strategic plan, and one they accomplished; sick leave went from 151.5 in 2015-16 to 147.83 in 2016-17. To address employee engagement, they have also “developed action plans and a roadmap to address areas of concern identified in the organization’s employee engagement survey from 2015.”

Population Health

Population health, “emphasizes promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing health problems rather than focusing only on treating illnesses.”

In this area of focus, Eastern Health has implemented a Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Strategy, including the “Chronic Disease Self-Management Program” and the “Improving Health: My Way self-management workshops.

Since the program’s inception in June 2011 until March 31, 2017, Eastern Heath facilitated 74 six-week workshops and expanded partnerships to offer the workshops around the region. They’ve also evaluated their public awareness campaign, Veggies & Fruit, which indicated a reach of over 100,000 on Facebook, and 18,590 Twitter impressions.

They have also completed 12 new chapters of its Health Status Report, “which provide valuable information about the health and well-being of the population in the Eastern Health region, such as population data, determinants of health, behaviours that influence health, injury and hospitalization, life expectancy, mortality rates, and more.”

End of One Strategic Plan, Beginning of Another

Eastern Health has now embarked on its new Strategic Plan for 2017-20, Lighting the Way: Navigating Together, “a foundational work plan that outlines the goals for the health authority over the next three years.”

This one will continue to be guided by the strategic priorities of Access, Quality and Safety, Population Health and Sustainability; and a newly added priority, Healthy Workplace, which focuses on employee wellness and engagement.

Together We Can, Annual Performance Report 2016-2017, is available in its entirety on Eastern Health’s website at www.easternhealth.ca/APR.