Demand management is nothing new in the “hard” municipal infrastructure world.
- The first 2 of the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – is aimed at reducing the demand for waste collection, diversion and disposal.
- Transportation Demand Management aims to reduce demands on our transportation network.
- Water conservation and efficiency reduces demands for new water and wastewater infrastructure.
By being smarter stewards of these resources and assets, we also save money.
Demand management is a relatively new concept in the world of “soft” services.
The Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative has opened up this discussion. How might we become smarter stewards of existing community resources and assets to deliver better outcomes in community health, safety and wellbeing for individuals, families and neighbourhoods while reducing costly demands on the system?
The Health Links pilot is pushing into this territory. The increasing demands on our health care system are not financially sustainable. This pilot is focussing on providing better health outcomes for the 3000 highest users of our health care system in Guelph to reduce their demand on the system. These 3000 users account for over two-thirds of health care spending.
At the Operations, Transit and Emergency Services Committee next week, we will be discussing the increasing demands on Land Ambulance Service (18,377 calls for service in 2012). The increase in calls each year is having a negative impact on response times. The traditional response is to increase the budget to add more paramedics. This may be required. By way of example, while we promote water conservation, we also bring on new water supply to meet demand. But what about managing demand?
The Health Links pilot has the potential to reduce calls for Land Ambulance Service. I learned yesterday that one individual has made over 200 visits to the Emergency Department. I wonder whether some of those visits were in an ambulance. I will be asking for similar data to be provided so we can better understand how Land Ambulance Service is being used.
The Hub Model from Prince Albert – which is being championed by many in the community including the Chief of Police and the Leadership Group of the Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative – offers to push even further into managing demand for a variety of community services while simultaneously delivering better outcomes in health, safety and wellbeing for individuals, families and neighbourhoods. It is about the right service at the right time to make a difference.
These are exciting and groundbreaking initiatives which I believe will put Guelph (once more) on the map for innovative city and community building.