After several years of collaborative work led by Francophone community partners and the Regroupement of Ontario French Language Health Planning Entities, the provincial government announced, in the 2018 Ontario Budget, that the linguistic identity of patients would henceforth be captured using the system for managing the Ontario health card. This is a major breakthrough that will foster not only the active offer of French language health services but also the compilation of data on the use of health services by Francophone patients.
This announcement comes at a time when our linguistic identity data collection project is moving into a new phase. After 24 months of implementation in 15 hospitals in the region, this project – conducted in collaboration with the Champlain and South East LHINs, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, as well as the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) – helped us compile nearly 300,000 visit data on patients admitted to Eastern and Southeastern Ontario hospitals since April 2016. At the end of this inaugural phase, we are now continuing ongoing data collection, as well as analysis of this data.
This pilot project also showed that it was difficult to change the information systems of each service provider to allow them to compile the linguistic data of patients. This feasibility study revealed that it would be more efficient to compile patients' linguistic identity data using the health card: by integrating this collection right into the system managing the health card, this data would be collected every time patients present their health card.