Trillium chief focuses on preventive care to cut costs

The new head physician at Mississauga’s Trillium Health Partners wants to boost health care quality by expanding disease prevention for the five per cent of hospital patients who eat up nearly three quarters of the budget.

Dr. Dante Morra told in an interview Tuesday that if it was any other business and five per cent of customers were responsible for 70 per cent of your cost, you would focus on that five per cent.

“A lot of our high users just bounce around the system. What we need to do is change the way we deliver care on that five per cent and come up with new models where we can improve the quality and reduce costs at the same time.”

The Mississauga resident and University of Toronto medical school professor has a reputation as an efficiency expert and officially took over as chief of staff at the  hospital in western Mississauga last Friday.

His strategy of focusing on value-based care also comes from his experience teaching medical students, doctors and health workers about patient-centered services.

Morra cited the example of early treatment of atrial fibrillation before the heart disease leads to a stroke. “If you can get on the right medication before the appropriate time, then your risk of stroke decreases,” he said.

With this model of value-based care, Morra said if you can find patients with this condition and you put them on the right blood thinners, the patient doesn’t suffer a stroke. “That’s great for the patient, they have a better experience and you save their life,” he said. “But the actual cost to the system is dramatically less.”

Morra said a stroke is a huge cost to the healthcare system in medical tests, staff care  and hospital time.

“You have to think of care not as a cardiologist or not as we need another specialist,” he said. “The providers need to work as teams to treat things like mental health issues or heart failure.”

It doesn’t hurt that the hospitals in Mississauga are equipped with a “full-service” delivery model and commitment to patient care. “I believe we can lead the way in coming up with these new models and proving that they dramatically reduce cost and improve quality.”

Morra intends for Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre to become high-quality and effectively run organizations. He also has a vision for Trillium Health Partners becomes a “Mayo of the North,” a reference  to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

But he said that might require some difficult choices along the way.

While Morra is aware of how the current provincial deficit might squeeze healthcare spending and his hospital’s budget as a result, he said cutting programs to reduce costs isn’t the answer. “Those patients will still be there through our emergency room,” he said. “We still retain that liability and the cost of that care.”

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