It has long been clear to those involved in eye health care in Ontario that there is a need for a venue to promote inter-professional collaboration to optimize the provision of eye care and disseminate these concepts to appropriate stakeholders. Approximately six years ago, an informal Eye Care Council was created by the Ontario Association of Optometrists and Ontario Medical Association Section on Ophthalmology for this purpose. This has since evolved into the Eye Health Council of Ontario (EHCO).
The inaugural meeting of EHCO took place on December 3, 2010, following the March 31, 2010 recommendations of the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) “Report to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on Inter-professional Collaboration Among Eye Care Health Professionals”. This report envisioned a Council composed of optometrists and ophthalmologists working together, similar to the innovative model in Nova Scotia, building upon the foundation already established in Ontario.
The mandate of EHCO is to support the provision of accessible, quality eye care to the population of Ontario by ensuring the most effective use of the continuum of eye care professionals in the interests of patient safety, quality of care, and cost-effective delivery.
EHCO will also provide a unified voice for eye care issues at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), and serve as a mechanism to develop common collaborative guidelines for patient care, and as an ideal atmosphere for inter-professional collaboration outside the regulatory framework. Membership includes fourteen individuals from both ophthalmology and optometry representing academic, political and regulatory bodies of each profession. Both professions agreed to a governance structure wherein two co-chairs shall oversee the meetings; one chair shall be an optometrist, the other an ophthalmologist. Items require a 2/3 majority vote to be approved by EHCO. The council shall meet four times annually and host an extended meeting once per year, inviting all appropriate stakeholders (i.e. opticians, industry, CNIB, family physicians, etc). There are two observers from each College (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) and College of Optometrists of Ontario.
The mandate of the Eye Health Council of Ontario (EHCO) is to support the provision of accessible, quality eye care to Ontarians by ensuring the most effective use of the continuum of eye care professionals in the interests of patient safety, quality of care and cost effective delivery.
EHCO represents a forum of opportunity to:
- Allow for maintenance of high quality eye care making the best use of all expertise available.
- Ensure public safety.
- Ensure that undue stress is not placed on providers of eye care, further impairing the system.
- Make the best and most cost effective use of resources (including health human resources) available to Ontarians.
- Allow for the development of shared collaborative guidelines for patient care in Ontario.
- Allow for open and positive inter-professional collaboration outside the regulatory framework.
- Provide educational information to the public on how to most efficiently gain access to the appropriate level of eye care for their needs.
- Provide educational information to the public on how to most efficiently gain access to the appropriate level of eye care for their needs
- Allow for an extended meeting annually with all appropriate stakeholders (may include opticianry, industry, CNIB, family physicians, etc.)
- Provide a unified voice for eye care issues at MOHLTC and within Ontario.
EHCO will help to achieve these goals by:
- Providing a high level forum for inter-professional collaboration, facilitating knowledge transfer among participants
- Developing strategies to help optometrists, ophthalmologists and family physicians deliver eye care in the most effective way. Such strategies may include mutually agreed upon guidelines for collaborative care.