When Canadians need urgent care we hear that fewer than half are able to see their doctor on the same or next day after calling. Each time this happens, patients wait unnecessarily or they seek faster care in the emergency room.
By properly integrating digital tools in our healthcare system, we hope to solve some of our access problems, while making medical care more convenient and more cost-effective.
Whether it’s an app for patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or an online platform that connects patients with mental illness to care and peer support, WIHV is evaluating a number of digital health tools with partners including Ontario Telemedicine Network.
Taxi drivers are a group often at risk for complex chronic illness. Their jobs involve sitting for long stretches of time, they work extended and irregular hours – a set of lifestyle factors often found linked with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain and chronic pain. Adding to the issue is stress and in some cases, a genetic predisposition to certain illnesses.
Mobile health apps are increasingly being used to help patients prevent and manage chronic illness, with features that help them to track and stay aware of factors that influence health. Yet far too often, these tools don’t address the unique needs of those at risk for specific diseases.
The Taxi cab app is a targeted mobile health solution being developed to bridge this gap. The app will aim to promote healthy habits, while countering those that are not, such as prolonged and uninterrupted sitting, stress and unhealthy eating habits.
In partnership with the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), WIHV is advising small to medium sized businesses on whether some of the latest digital health tools can benefit Ontario’s health system.
Right now, one of the biggest barriers to growth and success in this field, is a solid grasp of what it takes to scale successful tools across the system. This can range from a solid an understanding of a tool's clinical relevance, to the likelihood that it will have a positive impact in the health system. Through the program, WIHV is:
Transthoracic Echocardiograms are really important for diagnosing and managing cardiovascular disease. However, despite their usefulness, there are concerns that a growing number of tests being ordered by attending level cardiologists and primary care physicians aren’t always appropriate and may lead to false positives, unnecessary procedures, and longer wait times. This is unpleasant for patients and ends up costing Ontario’s health care system even more in the long run.
Echo WISELY is an international study led by WIHV that looks at whether educating physicians on the appropriate ordering of echocardiograms will help reduce costs and improve care for patients.
For patients who have had a heart attack, clinical guidelines strongly recommend proper cardiac rehabilitation and medications to help reduce the risk of a recurrence. However, data from Ontario shows that twelve months after patients experience a heart attack, their adherence to medications drops by 50% and only 30-40% actively choose to participate in cardiac rehabilitation.
Under the leadership of Dr. Noah Ivers, Innovation Fellow at WIHV and Scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, researchers are looking into whether improved communication with patients will help to advance their understanding of recommended treatments and lead to better health outcomes. The study is called Interventions to Support Long-term Adherence aNd Decrease cardiovascular events (ISLAND).
Managing complex conditions is a difficult task for both patients and care providers. Primary care doctors may need specialized advice and rapid access to tests in order to decide together with their patients what the best course of action will be.
As a one-stop-shop for a variety of medical services, SCOPE has simplified the referrals process for hundreds of patients and created a feedback reporting system to help family physicians keep track of when and where patients have been admitted or received treatments. The program also helps them navigate hospital and community resources, as WIHV discovered in their evaluation.
When family doctors need to quickly rule out a condition for their patients, sometimes the emergency room is their only option for urgent imaging. With 1-800-IMAGING, now they can speak directly over the phone with a member of the medical imaging team to discuss patient needs, arrange for rapid and appropriate testing and discuss exam results in very short order.
To see if 1-800-IMAGING filled a gap in access to appropriate, fast and reliable imaging, the WCH Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) and JDMI evaluated the program.