Ontario's Local Health Integration Networks
In March 2006 the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care created 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province to plan, integrate and fund local health care. LHINs work with their local communities to improve access to care, coordinate health care services and improve the patient's experience with the health care system.
LHINs are building a better health care system by removing obstacles that have prevented coordination and by ensuring value for taxpayer dollars. They do this by talking with the people and providers in their local communities and by studying health care needs, trends and best practices. The ministry sets health system priorities and the LHINs work with providers and communities to design real-life solutions that address those priorities. By addressing local health care needs, LHINs are helping to transform Ontario’s health care system.
LHINs provide funding to service providers (hospitals, long-term care, community care access centres and others) through formal, legal agreements that spell out the terms and conditions under which services are to be provided. LHINs oversee and are responsible for approximately $24-billion in funding each year, or about half of Ontario’s health care budget ($48.9-billion for 2013-14) and for managing nearly 2,000 service agreements across the Province. Through these agreements, LHINs hold health service providers accountable for the services they deliver and for the public funding that is provided to them.
LHINs themselves are accountable as well. Each LHIN is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors made up of members from the local community. The board makes decisions about health services based on what is important to the community. Through an agreement with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, each LHIN must measure how it is performing against a detailed list of requirements that includes looking at access to care and quality of care improvements. LHINs work to ensure that every individual, regardless of gender, race, income or social status, has the same access to health care. The benefits of LHINs are numerous and proven – they are able to build solutions around people and populations, to be flexible to allow for locally-driven solutions and to engage communities and individuals in health care design and delivery.