Prescriptions are for more than just drugs. Ontario Health Teams should use ‘social prescribing’ to improve our health and wellbeing.
Most of the conversation about ending hallway health care in Ontario has focused on the back door of the hospital – moving people out of hospital and back into communities. But what if we could focus on the front door and prevent hospitalization in the first place? And what if we could do this by strengthening partnerships between health and social services, which are known to impact determinants of health? This is a top ten recommendation of both the Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine and the primary care virtual community’s list of high impact action items for healthcare transformation.
With the new rollout of the Ontario Health Teams (OHTs), there is an opportunity to do this by weaving social prescribing into the tapestry of our healthcare system. Social prescribing is model of care coordination at the crossroads between health care and social services. Social prescribing helps people get connected to social and community services for their “non-health issues,” from social isolation and loneliness to physical activity, food security and housing. In the process, it frees up valuable clinician time and resources by addressing social needs and moving people’s care a step upstream.