New system rapidly screens and triages patients
May 1, 2020
TORONTO – InputHealth, a Canadian healthcare software company known for its Collaborative Health Record (CHR) platform, has signed a contract to supply the Ontario Health West region with a newly devised solution for rapidly screening, triaging and treating patients according to the urgency of their care.
At a time when a wave of COVID-19 cases is crashing down on caregivers, the new solution, called the Population Health Navigator, enables a large volume of patients to access care.
It also allows doctors, nurses and other health professionals to manage patients and deliver health services in a safe and effective way, by combining the use of patient self-assessment, analytics and telehealth for virtual visits.
“This system is designed for the time when we have a large number of people all trying to access the healthcare system concurrently,” said Dr. Puneet Seth, president of InputHealth and a practicing family physician.
He emphasized that as the numbers of coronavirus patients dramatically rises, there will still be patients with heart issues, pneumonia and strokes, all of whom will need rapid attention.
The software is designed to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and to ensure that all patients receive timely, appropriate care.
“Population Health Navigator is designed to flow people through the system as efficiently as possible,” said Dr. Seth.
InputHealth worked closely with healthcare leadership in the London Middlesex area of Ontario, including Dr. Daniel Pepe, Dr. Cathy Faulds and Anna Foat, to rapidly deploy the solution. At the time of writing, over 350 doctors in the region had signed on to start using the navigator for their practices.
Shortly after launch, family physician Dr. Daniel Pepe said the system has been making a “substantial impact”, ensuring that patients get the attention they need while taking physical pressure off healthcare centres.
The application does this by allowing patients to first assess their own symptoms. If they are showing signs of needing further assistance, they are able to gain help from the online physicians.
If their own family doctor is not part of the network, 12 on-call practitioners are available to provide assessments and to direct patients to the right form of care.
Dr. Pepe, at the time of this interview, said 7,858 patients had gone to the website (covid19checkup.ca), of whom 93 were given a live, telephone assessment with a doctor or nurse practitioner. The plan was to add video visits and secure messaging by mid-April.
“The main advantage is that the solution provides rapid assessment remotely, so that patients get the care they need and less pressure is put on in-person providers and our supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).”
Dr. Pepe noted the system started with implementation in the London-Middlesex area and was just about to be expanded to the entire southwest region of Ontario.
Built on InputHealth’s flagship Collaborative Health Record technology, the new system has been optimized for managing patients in a pandemic like COVID-19. “This all happened at an unprecedented speed thanks to those who appreciated the need to act decisively,” said Dr. Seth. “It normally takes six months or more for the procurement process alone,” he commented.
“The urgency of the times requires rapid action, and we’re ideally positioned to respond given our existing CHR technology and history in this space,” he said. “The idea is to start with the basics of something meaningful on the ground as soon as possible, as phase one, and to build on this with more functionality as needs evolve.”
The strength of Population Health Navigator is that it allows a single point of access for patients to make an appointment, enter their symptoms and relevant health data, and even conduct appointments virtually, through the portal with caregivers – protecting the health of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Population Health Navigator has its own “virtual visit” capabilities embedded into it, enabling clinicians and patients to interact with each other virtually as needed, including real-time chat, messaging, and secure video conferencing.
The video portion was about to be released, after the first group of clinicians had time to adjust to the basics of the platform.
When used at the outset, the system can triage the patient and direct them to the appropriate type of care, whether it’s to self-isolation, to an occupational health department, or to emergency services.
Importantly, all patients are then tracked on a real-time dashboard, so that no one is left unaccounted for or falls through the cracks.
“It gives you a centralized view of the flow of care,” said Dr. Seth. “It’s dramatically different than using a screening tool or a video conferencing service alone. It’s an end-to-end pandemic management pathway.”
Using a geographical information system (GIS) map view, those looking at the bigger picture can see where the patient population with COVID-19 symptoms is growing or shrinking.
Dr. Seth noted the current contract applies to all of Ontario Health West, including Hamilton and all areas west of Hamilton. The company is in discussions to install it in other parts of Ontario, as well as in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and even in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Dr. Seth continues to practice part-time as a family physician in west Toronto, and also in occupational health at the Toronto Western Hospital. The CEO and co-founder of InputHealth, Dr. Damon Ramsey, works as a general practitioner in Vancouver.
Dr. Ramsey and Shawn Jung (CTO, co-Founder) started the company in 2011, and have successfully deployed their CHR technology to healthcare organizations across Canada and around the world.