Can a Simple App Improve the Patient-Provider Relationship?

For anyone managing a chronic or life threatening condition, the value of investing time and effort in managing and understanding their health information is clear – poor or incomplete data can have a significant negative effect on their health. But the same is true for all of us – we can all benefit from tracking our health a little more closely. Continue reading

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Clinicians-in-Training Program Prepares Pharmacists for Digital Environments

It’s Digital Health Week – what an exciting time in the world of digital health! As an educator and the Executive Director of the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) – the national voice for academic pharmacy in Canada — I have been able to experience the ongoing growth of digital health innovation in education, and watch how it is helping to improve clinical practice and patient care. Continue reading

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Canadians are Embracing Digital Health

Canadians are no strangers to the virtual world, with a Canadian user visiting an average of 3,731 pages every month. It’s no surprise, then that Canadians also head online for health information, and, in fact, 72 per cent of family physicians refer patients to websites for information about their health care and lifestyle. But Canadians don’t just want general information — they also want access to their own health data as well, with more than 80 per cent saying they would like to take advantage of digital health solutions to view lab results and medication history electronically. These are just some of the interesting stats from Canada Health Infoway’s recent Report on Digital Health: Canadians embracing digital health infographic. Download the report and share your thoughts — would you like to access your health information online? Continue reading

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Telemedicine: Transforming our Health Care System, Transforming Lives

We often hear from providers, health care teams and organizations about the transformative effects telemedicine has had on our health care system, but nothing is as inspiring as patient stories. These stories touch our hearts and remind us why we do what we do. Take Otto and Ulla for example. Otto is 90 years old, and at 85, Ulla is his caregiver. Otto and Ulla have been married for 66 years and live together at home. Otto is struggling with a chronic illness and, as a result, has enrolled in Telehomecare. “It’s the best thing that ever happened, so you don’t have to go to the doctor and sit and wait, and wait, and wait….” OTN Telehomecare, a free-to-patients program supported by Canada Health Infoway and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, empowers patients to take control of their own health through coaching and by equipping them with self-monitoring tools. The program has had outstanding success in Ontario, with a more than 50 per cent reduction in hospital admissions and ER visits among Telehomecare patients. Ian, a former OTN Telehomecare patient said he was grateful that Telehomecare kept him out of the hospital because it was hard on […] Continue reading

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Nursing Faculty Peer Network Help Advance Understanding of Digital Health

Digital health technologies continue to transform the health system and the delivery of nursing care, making it essential for educators to ensure nursing students are exposed to digital health. Three years ago the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) published Nursing Informatics Competencies that contain specific knowledge, skills and attitudes new nurses should possess upon completing their undergraduate nursing program. A toolkit with information on various elements related to the competencies, and teaching strategies and tools, was developed to support uptake and integration of the competencies. Though much was accomplished by creating the competencies and the toolkit, CASN and Canada Health Infoway (Infoway), who supported the initiative through their Clinicians-in-Training program, felt more needed to be done to support this transition. Last year, with funding from Infoway, CASN began a second phase of the Clinicians-in-Training project and formed the Digital Health Nursing Faculty Peer Network. Ten nursing faculty, who are champions of digital health, were selected to lead the Network. The first meeting of the Peer Leaders occurred in early 2015 and focused on the Network logistics and creating connections with nursing faculty. Three weeks ago, I was able to attend the second meeting of the Peer Leaders, and […] Continue reading

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Join HCSMCA Tweet Chat on Patients, Providers and the Future of Health Care

If you’re looking for Canadians, apparently you have to look online: According to Statistics Canada, 83 per cent of households had access to the internet in 2012 and Ipsos Reid reports that nearly half of us have actively looked for health information online. Continue reading

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Testing a New Data Model to Support Evidence-Informed Decision Making

A few months ago, Canada Health Infoway’s ImagineNation Data Impact Challenge put out a call to all authorized users of Canadian health data sets to determine if important health and health care questions, like duplication rates for tests and exams, or the impact of prompt discharge summaries on re-admission could be answered in a timely, privacy-sensitive manner. Continue reading

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Engaging with Patients during Digital Health Week

Earlier this year, we held a #HCSMCA tweet chat on our upcoming Digital Health Week to ask for input on what the focus of the week should be. And while there were lots of great ideas and discussions, one that stood out was that you wanted patients included. Continue reading

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Better Communication Means Safer Care

Between 9,000 and 24,000 people die each year from preventable adverse events in hospitals. This is a startling stat and one we should keep top of mind as we approach Canadian Patient Safety Week, from October 26 to 30. This year’s theme is the importance of good communication between patients and care providers in achieving safer care, and it’s one in which digital health can play an important role. Digital health cannot only help patients and care givers connect to vital information, it can facilitate faster and easier communication between and among the entire care team, which includes the patient. Access to such information is empowering. The ability to access lab results or personal health records online means that patients are more knowledgeable and can have informed conversations with their health care providers. It means patients can double-check facts, look back to confirm a test result and refresh their memories of the details of their condition(s). It also means family members and authorized care givers can stay better informed. In addition, digital health can enable patients to stay connected with their care team between face-to-face visits, through private and secure emails and e-visits. Alexa’s story is an example of how […] Continue reading

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Have Canadian clinicians reached a tipping point for Clinical Interoperability?

It is 3:45pm, and I am running behind. Patients are gathering in the clinic waiting room, while I pull out my hair in frustration as I wait for a medical record department to fax a copy of a patient’s report that is not yet in my local EMR. This scenario still plays itself out over and over again in countless physicians’ offices across the country. Waiting…. For a fax. I am reminded of the humorous tweet attributed to Matthew Hankins (@mc_hankins): ‘Could you fax over a copy?’ ‘No, I can’t fax because of where I live’ ‘Where do you live?’ ‘The 21st century’ All kidding aside, the seamless, timely sharing of medical information electronically between health care providers continues to be a significant challenge. And while it is easy to despair that the panacea of true interoperability is not in sight, we should reflect on how far we have come in a short time, in an industry (healthcare) that is relatively slow to embrace change. Thanks in part to the investments of Infoway and its partner organizations, the percentage of Canadian family physicians reporting EMR use increased from 16% in 2004, for example, to 77% in 2014, a phenomenal change […] Continue reading

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