2016-03-31 11:11:22.455The Ontario Stroke Network (OSN) has a “unique opportunity” and is ideally positioned to support and lead the advancement of primary care vascular health, said OSN Executive Director Christina O’Callaghan.

O’Callaghan was speaking at a Primary Care Knowledge Exchange and Engagement session in Toronto on March 31. The session was organized and sponsored by the OSN to share progress made on initiatives for patient-centred and integrated vascular health best practices within primary care settings. Another key session goal was to engage attendees to provide critical feedback on developments as well as help guide priorities and direction for next phases of the initiative.

“With the pending merger with the Cardiac Care Network (CCN), we are at the perfect tipping point to build on our successes and more rapidly advance our primary care work,” she told the attendees.

Vascular diseases are the leading cause of preventable death in Ontario. In 2010, the CCN, Heart and Stroke Foundation and OSN, with multi-sectorial input and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care endorsement and support, developed a Vascular Health Blueprint to help address the growing vascular disease burden.

Since most Ontarians are followed by primary care providers, the OSN has seized the opportunity to implement the Blueprint by establishing the Vascular Primary Care Work Group (PCWG) in 2012. The main purpose of the PCWG is to improve the quality and access to a continuum of vascular services by overseeing a work plan that includes identifying gaps in best practices and delivering sustainable, evidence-based resources which will enhance quality improvement (QI).

The session attendees, which included primary care LHIN leadership, , Health Quality Ontario, QI specialists and health care professionals, engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on the present state of vascular health care, gaps, priority needs, the interconnectedness of all vascular chronic diseases and the difficulties encountered in vascular disease prevention and patient-centered management of those with multiple concurrent conditions.

Ontario Renal Network Business Strategist Monisha Bhatt said the session successfully highlighted primary care priorities. “This work is right on track for what is needed in primary care,” she said.

Participants received overviews of collaborative achievements and lessons learned related to the primary care resources under development by the OSN-sponsored Primary Care Working Group (PCWG), including:

  • Vascular Health Assessment and Support Tool (VHAST)
    A patient-centred, decision support resource, with clinical data being prepared to best practice guidelines at the point of care. The VHAST is intended to be a resource embedded in certified Electronic Medical Records (EMR) that will enable the integrated documentation and management of patients with confirmed vascular conditions.
  • Vascular Health QI Toolkit
    A resource to assist the development and implementation of relevant quality improvement plans.
  • Vascular Health Medical Directives
    A repository of medical directives to enhance inter-professional primary care team collaboration in screening, monitoring and managing patients.


The Ontario Stroke Network provides provincial leadership and planning for the continuum of stroke care in Ontario—from health promotion and stroke prevention to acute care, recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.


The Cardiac Care Network of Ontario works with hospitals in Ontario to provide cardiac services across the province. In addition, CCN serves as a support system to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.


Patrick Moore
Communications Manager, Ontario Stroke Network
2300 Yonge Street, Suite 1300, P.O. Box 2414, Toronto, Ontario M4P 1E4
pmoore@ontariostrokenetwork.ca | www.ontariostrokenetwork.ca
Cell: (416) 455-7394