Further Together: Our Strategic Plan
As detailed in the video above, Further Together, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s strategic plan for 2020-2024, is outlined in full in the paragraphs that follow.
Further Together: The COVID-19 Era
In March 2020, following a one-year consultation process, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s Board of Directors approved “Further Together” as the organization’s strategic plan for 2020-2024. Then, on March 11, the World Health Organization declared a highly infectious and rapidly spreading novel coronavirus a global pandemic. Soon after everything changed.
COVID-19 is having a major impact on the Canadian healthcare system, and the Heart Institute (UOHI) is not unaffected. We’ve reduced our capacity for performing non-urgent surgeries and procedures and have halted research activities to slow the spread of infection in our community. Months later, we are in the beginning stages of a plan to return to our full operational capacity, however, given the environment, we know we must do so cautiously, and that our plan will take months.
We now face two threats: cardiovascular disease and COVID-19. It was important to ask ourselves if there was a case to be made to adjust or modify our course of action considering the pandemic. After some reflection, although it is obvious that COVID-19 will bring about significant and far-reaching changes that profoundly re-shape how we care for patients, educate new generations of medical professionals, conduct research, and more, the strategic directions we set out in our strategic plan will serve our fight against COVID-19 while supporting our vision: To be a world-class patient-centered heart institute in Canada.
The Now: Understanding Our Current Landscape
In Canada, 2.5 million people suffer from coronary artery disease. Over the past decade, we have witnessed the rise of valve disease and cardiac arrhythmias, the explosion of heart failure, and an increased prevalence of rare diseases. At the same time, we have watched how cardiac and information technology have transformed the delivery of care, from advanced cardiac imaging to minimally invasive procedures to virtual care. In addition, the healthcare environment has become extremely specialized, requiring a highly skilled and trained workforce, which itself creates additional human capital pressures. The way we deliver care in Ontario is soon to change as Ontario Health Teams are being created and implemented.
Looking Back: Stronger Together (UOHI’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2019)
To understand where we’re going, we must first understand where we’ve been. What follows is a short list of key highlights and achievements under our 2015-2019 strategic plan, Stronger Together.
- We established multidisciplinary, patient-centered Heart Teams and served our community beyond our walls through our innovative hub-and-spoke model.
- We stretched our influence all the way to Qingdao, China, where a new cardiac care and research centre has opened its doors. The Qingdao-Ottawa Heart Institute is based on the hallmarks of our model: care, research, and education.
- We opened a state-of-the-art critical care tower, a multimodality Cardiac Imaging Centre, and the first-of-its-kind Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, which hosted two of the first Canadian Women’s Heart Health Summits in history right here in the nation’s capital.
- We implemented an innovative Health Information System called EPIC that springboarded the Heart Institute into the modern era of digital healthcare.
- We realized our collaborative strategic plan, ORACLE (Ottawa Region for Advanced Cardiovascular Research Excellence), enhancing significantly our partnership with the University of Ottawa and other research institutes in Canada in the process.
Looking Forward: Further Together (UOHI’s Strategic Plan for 2020-2024)
Our new strategic plan, Further Together, is inspired by Stronger Together, and is built upon four strategic directions.
- Consolidate interdisciplinary Heart Teams: There is enormous potential to expand the Heart Team concept in centres of excellence, and heart institutes are best positioned to establish multi-disciplinary teams that reinvent cardiac care. We will continue consolidating our Heart Team model and enhancing gradually and strategically their influence across the organization and beyond. Our Heart Team concept for heart disease has become even more relevant today in the wake of COVID-19. A collaborative approach to decision-making across disciplines is critical for providing the best patient care possible and stewarding resources.
- Expand our Institute’s regional model: We will increase the use of information technology to expand care delivery in the community. We will build upon the success of our regional hub-and-spoke network, developing satellite clinics and home-based video consultations to support those in greatest need. To keep our outstanding level of patient satisfaction, we must improve access to care for elective procedures and increase operational efficiencies while maintaining quality and safety. The COVID-19 situation has exemplified further the benefit of virtual care at the regional level, expanding collaboration with other partner hospitals using this technology.
- Focus research around precision medicine for better care: Through the implementation of ORACLE 2.0, the sequel to ORACLE, we will further integrate clinical and basic science by establishing “innovation hubs” to work in synergy with our Heart Teams. We’re putting a major focus on clinical research, big data, and our specific areas of excellence, including women’s heart health, cardiac imaging, and genetics. COVID-19 presents a wealth of complex and patient-focused research opportunities. COVID-19 will be a cross-cutting theme in all research conducted in each of our innovation hubs.
- Promote cardiac wellness with a focus on women’s heart health: The Women’s Heart Health Team works across the fundamental pillars of research, clinical services, education and awareness. As a central part of our patient care strategy, we will continue to promote cardiac wellness in general and will support our unique Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, as a trademark of the UOHI.
Enablers of Success:
The UOHI has identified the following as enablers for ensuring the success of Further Together.
- People: Our collective strength resides in the quality, skills and dedication of hundreds of individuals across many levels of the Heart Institute, including those who serve on boards, our administrative staff, clinical staff, research personnel, volunteers, and the patients who contribute to our research activities and programs.
- Infrastructure: We will capitalize on our most recent and massive investments as well as our capital investments in clinical and basic science research.
- Information technology and data science: Cardiac technology keeps evolving to address the needs of our patients. Fundamental changes in cardiac technology are driving state-of-the-art cardiac care. In addition, artificial intelligence and big data will significantly impact the way we conduct clinical research, offering opportunities for automated, faster and cheaper studies and trials in the future.
- Communications: We will continue to share our story and expand our brand. We will pursue the profound transformation realized with our communications team during the last five years and build upon our growing presence in social media. We will use all available web-based communication platforms and disseminate in a fast and powerful way our research successes, and further cultivate our reputation of excellence in clinical care and education.
- Philanthropy: Donors to the Heart Institute Foundation are central to the achievements of this world-class cardiac care centre. Their engagement and financial support are a valued contribution to our success. Together with the Heart Institute Foundation, we will build the next campaign to support the directives established in Further Together.
Forging Ahead with Further Together
The UOHI’s Further Together strategic plan is well-aligned with the paradigm COVID-19 presents. The strategic directions laid out herein provide us with the framework needed to address key challenges and opportunities in this new and unprecedented era.
Armed with our 45 years of experience in cardiac care, research and education; Drawing on our strong collaboration with our foundational partners, The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa; Fortified by our unparalleled patient satisfaction levels, and powered by a committed multidisciplinary team of clinicians, researchers and administrators, Further Together will strengthen our reputation as a world-class patient-centered heart institute in Canada.