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A Pathway to Better Care for Patients with Lung Disease

May 25, 2015

Unique public-private-nonprofit collaboration is testing innovative ‘systems’ approach to COPD treatment

Toronto, ON – Innovation in health care comes in various forms. In the northern Ontario district of Temiskaming, it arrived recently as a new way to address one of the area’s most persistent health challenges – the high prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The new model is based on a simple premise: that better patient care requires a systems approach involving hospitals, primary care and a range of other community-based health services to deliver all aspects of inter-professional care.  As a result, patients receive the services they need when they need them.

The Value Demonstrating Initiative (VDI) on COPD is currently ground-testing the new approach in the Temiskaming Health Link and at two sites in the GTA – in downtown Toronto at the Toronto Western Family Health Team and in Brampton, led by the Wise Elephant Family Health Team.  The goal is to show that optimizing COPD care in the community will not only keep patients healthier but also save money by reducing the need for expensive hospitalizations.

“In Temiskaming, we have introduced a common care pathway that begins with identification of at-risk individuals and early diagnosis with spirometry, a simple breathing test,” said Jocelyne Maxwell, Executive Director of the Centre de santé communautaire du Témiskaming, the local community health centre that is lead for the Temiskaming Health Link. “Patients are then classified according to the severity of their condition so that they can receive care from a range of community-based providers coordinated by their case manager.”

In Ontario, almost 12 per cent of people 35 and older have COPD and its prevalence is increasing, especially among women. Flare-ups are a frequent cause of emergency department visits, hospital admissions and re-admissions, making COPD patients among the highest health-care users in the province.

“There is strong evidence that when COPD patients have timely access to all the health services they need, including help to quit smoking, vaccinations, the right medications, exercise and education, they experience improved clinical outcomes and better overall quality of life,” said Carole Madeley, director of respiratory health programs with the Ontario Lung Association. “On a broader scale, it makes our health-care system more effective and more efficient.”

The VDI on COPD is being implemented through a unique collaboration between the public, private and non-profit sectors – the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) and the Ontario Lung Association.

Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative (THETA), University of Toronto, will conduct an independent evaluation at each of the three demonstration sites to determine whether the VDI on COPD improves patient outcomes and quality of life, and reduces hospital use and costs associated with acute exacerbations.


Our government is committed to improving care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This new collaborative approach to helping patients with COPD will ensure multidisciplinary care for COPD patients in the community, in settings like Family Health Teams and Health Links. It supports our Patient’s First: Action Plan for Health Care by providing faster access to high quality care in the community.” – Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

“The value of treatments used to treat COPD is immense and their value is further increased by combining support programs with these treatments, which not only benefits patients, but our health-care system as a whole.” – Russell Williams, president, Rx&D,

“More than 870,000 Ontarians are currently diagnosed with COPD — that’s 6.4 per cent of the population who account for about 25 per cent of all emergency department visits and hospitalizations. The evidence-based care pathway being deployed through the VDI will help to prevent this disease from overwhelming our health-care system.” – George Habib, president and CEO, Ontario Lung Association.


About the Ontario Lung Association
The Ontario Lung Association is a registered charity that assists, educates and empowers individuals living with or caring for others with lung disease. The Lung Association provides programs and services to patients and health-care providers, invests in lung research and campaigns for improved policies on lung health. The Lung Health Information Line 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) provides information about lung health issues.

About Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D)
Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) is the national association representing the voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry. We serve our membership by advocating for policies that enable the discovery, development and delivery of innovative medicines and vaccines to improve the lives of all Canadians. We support our membership’s commitment to being a valued partner in the Canadian health-care system. We represent more than 50 companies investing over $1 billion in R&D annually, fuelling Canada’s knowledge-based economy, while contributing over $3 billion overall to Canada’s economy. Guided by our code of ethical practices, we work with governments, private payers, health-care professionals and stakeholders in a highly ethical manner.


Contact: John Chenery, Ontario Lung Association 416-864-9911 ext. 292 | jchenery@on.lung.ca