CHIA award winners announced
December 22, 2020
TORONTO – Digital Health Canada and Technation are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Canadian Health Informatics Awards, both Individual and Team. The Canadian Health Informatics Awards (CHIA) pay tribute to excellence, leadership, and innovation in health informatics and digital health.
Individual Awards (sponsored by Digital Health Canada)
Dr. Richard Lester (pictured) (WelTel Incorporated and WelTel International mHealth Society) is the winner of the 2020 Clinical Innovator Award. The Clinical Innovator Award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding leadership in Canada in advancing the use of digital health or virtual health in clinical practice resulting in improved provider and patient experiences and outcomes.
Dr. Lester is a practicing infectious diseases physician at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), an associate professor of global health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Medicine, and a researcher at the VCH Research Institute. He is known globally as a pioneer in the field of digital health, having developed a program that harnesses mobile phone communications between patients and caregivers to improve HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
His randomized clinical trial evaluating the program found that patients supported by 2-way text messaging better adhered to their medication and achieved undetectable levels of virus in their blood, providing landmark evidence for mHealth to improve health outcomes in resource-limited settings. This work enabled Dr. Lester to become the first recipient of Grand Challenges Canada’s ‘Stars in Global Health’ $1M grant to scale 2-way text messaging in remote Kenya.
Importantly, in response to the recent Coronavirus epidemic, Dr. Richard successfully acquired a Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research grant from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to develop remote care models using 2-way text messaging for quarantined patients.
Kathy Steegstra (Provincial Health Services Authority) is the winner of the 2020 Digital Health Executive of the Year Award. Digital Health Executive of the Year Award recognizes an executive whose outstanding contributions as a leader have helped advance digital health in Canada. Kathy has long held senior leadership and executive level positions in the realm of virtual health. An early leader in the world of telemedicine, Kathy led telemedicine in Eastern Ontario in 2000 and then participated in the creation of the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) in 2006. As vice president of primary care at OTN, Kathy was responsible for the adoption, integration and implementation of telemedicine in hospitals and the primary care sector across Ontario. She also participated in the development of the Telehomecare Strategy for Ontario, and worked as a consultant on e-health issues.
In 2016 Kathy was asked to define, enable and lead the virtual health initiative for Provincial Health Services in British Columbia. In her role as senior provincial executive director, Kathy has built the Office of Virtual Health (OVH), which is a team that provides strategic leadership, project and change management support to Clinical Programs who have a need to integrate virtual health into their service offerings. Kathy’s team have built models and processes for integrating virtual health that have been shared across Canada.
Pooja Patel (Provincial Health Services Authority) is the winner of the 2020 Emerging Leader Award. The Emerging Leader in Health Award recognizes individuals who are in the first five years of a digital health career and have demonstrated leadership and achieved early success. Pooja works with a variety of clinical teams across the Provincial Health Services Authority thus far, this includes working with over 10 clinical teams in 15 locations across BC.
Pooja demonstrates professionalism and a friendly and respectful demeanor with all partners and achieves results in response to the clinical teams and their needs. Her current focus is Clinical Digital Messaging, enabling text communication between patients and their clinical providers.
Current projects focus on using SMS text messaging to facilitate this – specifically between clients with complex concurrent mental health and substance use challenges who are receiving treatment from BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. This work has become a framework for the broader Clinical Digital Messaging work to address multiple clinical use cases in diverse clinical programs. Pooja is well positioned to lead the upcoming project with clinical teams to enable text messages and automatic responses using Natural Language Processing.
Gillian Sweeney (Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Informatics) is the winner of the 2020 Leadership in Digital Health Award. The Leadership in Digital Health Award recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions as a thought leader to advance digital health or virtual health in Canada. Through her work at the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) and Digital Health Canada, Gillian has helped move the Canadian HI agenda forward. She provides expertise and leadership in the areas of electronic health record management and change management of digital health solutions.
At NLCHI, Gillian leads the team responsible for provincial leadership of eHealth projects and clinical information programs. She also supports virtual care delivery throughout the province. This includes hospital information systems, provincial EHRs, EMRs and change management, all of which support clinician adoption, training and education.
Specifically, Gillian’s team developed and implemented NL’s provincial EHR, HEALTHe NL, which supports more informed healthcare decisions, enabled safer patient care and reduced duplicate testing. Since implementation, Gillian’s team has worked to enhance the functionality of the provincial EHR, adding several new features such as an organ donor flag, access to the cardiac catheterization lab at Eastern Health, a provincial scheduling tool for Telehealth services, an eOrdering project and eConsult.
NLCHI’s Pharmacy Network connects all community pharmacies throughout the province and has become a foundational digital health solution enabling safer patient care through improved medication management. Gillian and her team have led initiatives that leverage the comprehensive information available through the Pharmacy Network, including launch of NL’s Prescription Monitoring Program and a Prescriber Report Card (rolling out in 2020).
Team Awards (sponsored by TECHNATION)
The 2020 Innovation in Care Delivery Award goes to the BC Innovation Hub 1 Project (Divisions of Family Practice, TELUS Health). The Innovation in Care Delivery Team Award honours private and public sector team effort by recognizing a for-profit healthcare IT company and client team that has successfully implemented a new, innovative health IT solution within the past 12 months.
The BC Innovation Hub Initiative is a partnership between the BC Ministry of Health, Interior Health Authority, South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice (SOS Division), and TELUS Health. The Innovation Hub’s approach is to identify clinical needs first and build solutions to meet those needs. Different concepts were identified for implementation.
CDX /MedDialog: Establish a communication network so that clinicians can access and share more complete and accurate patient information to support a high standard of care. It will provide the mechanism for simple document files to be sent and received across systems (in this case MedAcess to Meditech). This solution will also focus on extending document type and support the delivery of status notifications.
Forms: This project will include the creation, testing and publishing of forms across the participating clinics’ EMRs. A repository of forms will also be created to build a single library of forms easily accessible by all Primary Care Network (PCN) members.
Data Warehouse: This project involves copying data from individual EMRs across the PCNs into a single database, supporting cross-clinic primary care reporting and analytics.
Merged EMR: This project will migrate the EMR data currently stored in multiple MedAccess EMR instances (one per clinic) into a single shared instance of MedAccess (for clinic network).
Project collaboration has been a key component of each phase of the project. Initially an in-depth needs assessment was conducted with multidisciplinary clinical teams in the SOS region to understand the challenges faced by those teams as they deliver team-based care. The multidisciplinary clinical teams were chosen because they were already delivering team-based care and include members from both private practice (i.e., physicians, medical office assistants, social workers) and the Health Authority (i.e., mental health and substance use clinicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists).
2020 Patient Care Innovation Award goes to Western Hospital ED Decanting Project (Health PEI/Western Hospital/Maple). Patient Care Innovation Team Award honours private and public sector team effort by recognizing a for-profit healthcare IT company and client team that has successfully implemented a health -IT solution that has positively impacted patient care in innovative ways within the past 12 months.
Western Hospital in Alberton, PEI and Maple, Canada’s leading virtual care provider, have launched an innovative first-in-Canada pilot program. The program will dramatically reduce ED wait times for patients with non-critical needs. These same patients have waited up to 8 hours in some cases to speak with a doctor at the Western Hospital ED in recent months.
In the pilot phase, the program is limited to select patients who meet predefined criteria for the duration of the pilot (e.g., CTAS 4/5 patients), and will be evaluated at the 3 and 5-month marks in order to determine whether it can address a wider array of patient concerns across PEI, which has the longest ED wait times in the country for non-emergent cases. Maple has already heard from other hospitals in the Maritime provinces as well as Ontario who are interested in exploring the deployment of this very solution.
In this program, all patients are triaged by a nurse upon arrival at the ED, based on acuity level and urgency. If the triage nurse determines a patient’s condition meets the inclusion criteria for the program, they are given the option to wait for an in-person doctor’s consultation or immediately connect for a virtual consultation through the Maple platform. Throughout the visit a remote physician assesses the patient, while nurses are on site to take vitals, facilitate examination and rapid testing, or provide stat medications as directed by the doctor.
As an additional benefit, this model of care will allow Western Hospital to keep the ED open even when physicians can’t be on-site in the hospital. This situation closed the ED 19 times in 2019, as the region grappled with physician shortages, retirements, and the burnout of current staff who frequently work 16-hour days to provide care to the community.
In just the first week of the ED Decanting Pilot launch at Western Hospital, the patient maximum of 10 was being reached on many days (sometimes representing up to 33% of the patient volume going into the ED). Maple and Health PEI achieved the objective of decanting or diverting low acuity cases to a virtual care physician, with shortened wait times and strong patient satisfaction. On the first day of the program 9 visits were done, with an average wait time 5 minutes and every visit being rated 5 out of 5 stars.
The 2020 Project Implementation Team of the Year Award (Team Award) goes to eOrder (The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) and Orion Health). The Project Implementation Team Award honours private and public sector team effort by recognizing a for-profit healthcare IT company and client team that has successfully implemented a health IT solution at a healthcare organization within the past 12 months.
The first of its kind in Canada, eOrder is part of the provincial EHR, HEALTHe NL. The solution is an eOrdering referral process that streamlines scheduling and speeds up patient testing in the province’s vascular imaging laboratory.
The project delivery approach required an agile methodology to facilitate the discovery of requirements with the vascular lab while coordinating the design and implementation efforts with various vendors. The close engagement of resources from the vascular lab enabled reviews of solution progress, and identification of gaps or issues impacting the potential use or process workflow. The team at the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) worked collaboratively with vendors to put ideas on the table and address challenges in an effective manner. Despite the complexity of working with multiple stakeholders, all participants came together as a single team to meet the same objective.
The collaborative spirit of all stakeholders was a key in driving the solution delivery. There was a high level of satisfaction for providers at both ends of the workflow (those who place order requests, and those at the lab, processing and performing tests).
eOrder has been live since November 2019. The vascular team uses it for all aspects of managing test order requests, scheduling and patient preparation. After four months, 100 percent of orders have been processed by the system. The feedback from the lab and clinicians submitting requests has been extremely positive, highlighting the ease of use, access to valuable information and timely management of test orders.
The 2020 Corporate Citizenship Award goes to Gevity Consulting Inc. Corporate Citizenship Award recognizes leading for-profit healthcare IT companies that are committed to and passionate about health informatics and have invested in contributing to the industry in Canada. This annual award provides client organizations and business partners the opportunity to nominate private sector companies who have demonstrated a very high level of commitment to HI in the past 12 months.