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Digital Health Week 2017: Virtual visits means better, more equitable access to healthcare

   

Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia

          
As part of Digital Health Week 2017, the eHealth Centre of Excellence will feature posts from guests discussing why digital health is important to them. eCE Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia is back to deliver this week’s final post.
 

I wanted to update you on the exciting news which we announced here last week: that virtual visits are coming to Waterloo Wellington!

 

Virtual visits will allow primary care providers to ‘see’ their patients via secure messaging, audio, and clinical video-conferencing. 

We have been working with primary care providers to make sure the virtual visit model fits within their workflow. Thank you to all the providers who have given us feedback and signed up to participate! 


The roll-out of virtual visits will be great news for all 775,000 residents in our region, but particularly for those who may struggle with mobility, live in a rural area far from their physician, cannot take time off of work, and/or lack transportation or other resources required to make an in-person appointment.

 
Digital health tools are making the healthcare system more equitable for everyone, and that’s just one more reason that digital health is important to me.

 

The eCE, in collaboration with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), was recently one of six successful applicants for the second round of the REACH (Resources for Evaluating, Adopting and Capitalizing on Innovative Healthcare Technology). Funding from REACH is supporting us to work with providers and patients to develop a more streamlined technology for delivering virtual visits. 

 

Follow us on twitter (@eHealthCE) and join the Digital Health Week conversation using #thinkdigitalhealth!

 

And even though Digital Health Week is coming to a close, we'll be back on the blog next week with a great new eConsult spotlight, so keep watching this space!

 

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Digital Health Week 2017: Electronic health record improves access to information

          Karen Keith

As part of Digital Health Week 2017, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) blog will feature posts from guests discussing why digital health is important to them. Today’s post is from the connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program Manager Karen Keith. The eCE is the cSWO Program’s Change Management and Adoption Delivery Partner for the Waterloo Wellington region.

 

Clinicians from across the continuum of care need access to the most up-to-date patient information in order to make safe, informed decisions for their patients. In the past, this was challenging because the information they need typically 

comes from many different places – such as labs, x-Ray facilities, primary care clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, home and community care, etc. Trying to collect all of this information was an administrative burden, and often it would be faster and less effort for the clinician just to duplicate the test, as no one wants to delay a necessary treatment. 

 

That’s why the electronic health record (EHR) is so important. The connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program’s Regional Clinical Viewer, ClinicalConnect™ – funded by eHealth Ontario – is an EHR digital health tool: a secure, web-based portal that provides physicians and clinicians with real-time access to their patients’ electronic

 

 medical information from all acute care hospitals, Local Health Integration Networks’ Home & Community Care Services (formerly Community Care Access Centres) and Regional Cancer Programs in south west Ontario, plus various provincial repositories that provide access to lab and drug data.

 

Digital health is important to me because it’s enabling clinicians to make well-informed decisions for their patients at the point of care, so patients can receive the care they need when they need it.

 

Don’t just take it from me – here’s what one ClinicalConnect user in our region has to say:

 

“ClinicalConnect lightens the clerical burden for everyone and promotes a more seamless encounter with the patient: I can just pull up the relevant records right away, respond to the clinical concern, and make a relevant plan – instead of having the clerical staff try and find those records and then recall the patient weeks or months later, which can put patients at risk.”

 


 

We are pleased to share that a major upgrade to ClinicalConnect, referred to as Release 5.0, was successfully completed on Sunday, November 5, 2017 to further enhance the portal’s functionality for users. Read more about this here!

 

For more on the cSWO Program, please click here.

 


 

Follow us on twitter (@eHealthCE) and join the Digital Health Week conversation using #thinkdigitalhealth!
 

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Digital Health Week 2017: Interactive tablets can enhance patient experience

           Danika Walden

As part of Digital Health Week 2017, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) blog will feature posts from guests discussing why digital health is important to them. Today’s post is from QBIC (Quality Based Improvements in Care) Program Manager Danika Walden.

 

In collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW), the eHealth Centre of Excellence is supporting primary care providers in the screening and management of mental health concerns through the use of tablets.

 

How it works: Patients use the tablet while they are sitting in the waiting room prior to their appointment to complete 

mental health screening and other assessments. A secure transmission automatically updates the patient’s chart in the electronic medical record (EMR) with the information that the patient has entered into the tablet, prior to the patient’s appointment.

 

Not only does this significantly decrease administrative tasks, but it also allows the primary care provider to review the information prior to seeing the patient, thereby enabling them to focus on areas that need more attention.

And most importantly, what we’ve found is that the tablet screening actually enhanced some patients’ ability to communicate.

 

Sensitive health issues, particularly related to mental health, can be hard to talk about. Of the patients surveyed who used a tablet to complete an assessment, 34.7% indicated that using the tablet helped them provide more honest answers, and 22.4% said they would not have liked to answer the questions during a face-to-face chat with their doctor.

 

We’ve become a society were using technology to communicate has become the norm – and in some cases, it’s even preferable to other methods!

Digital health is important to me because it helps patients to feel more comfortable answering tough questions – which in turn gives doctors the information they need to enhance the quality of care.

 

If you are a primary care provider who is interested in participating in our tablet program, please contact QBIC Change Management Specialist Meghan Brenner-Burgoyne today!

 

Follow us on twitter (@eHealthCE) and join the Digital Health Week conversation using #thinkdigitalhealth!

 

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Digital Health Week 2017: Improving transitions across the care continuum

                     Lori Moran

As part of Digital Health Week 2017, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) blog will feature posts from guests discussing why digital health is important to them. Today’s post is from System Coordinated Access (SCA) Program Manager Lori Moran.

 

The wait time between seeing your doctor and seeing a specialist can be challenging – patients are often left in the dark about when their appointment will be, which only adds to what is already a stressful situation. That’s why we’re excited to be building an electronic referral (eReferral) system that includes regular communications back to the patient and their care circle. Patients can now receive email notifications on the status of their referral and appointment details, and can confirm appointments online. Shortly patients will be able to do both through an online portal as well as book their own appointments for self-management programs, and look up available resources in the community – complete with wait times.

 

Digital health is important to me because technologies like our new eReferral system bring the patient into the conversation and provides them with the information they need to feel in control of their own health. 

 


 

Just this month, the eCE was delighted to receive a Bright Lights award from the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) in the category of Optimizing Use of Resources!

 

This award is a credit to the efforts of the SCA program – you can read more about it here!

 

The SCA program is funded by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).

 

Follow us on twitter (@eHealthCE) and join the Digital Health Week conversation using #thinkdigitalhealth!

 

 

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Digital Health Week 2017: Electronic medical records support patient-centric care

   

Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia

As part of Digital Health Week 2017, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) blog will feature posts from guests discussing why digital health is important to them. Today’s post is from eCE Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia.
 

Electronic medical records (EMRs), the records in clinician offices, are valuable digital health tools. EMRs digitize what was previously a patient’s paper chart and allow clinicians and teams to quickly and securely access  this information. EMRs also come with a lot of handy tools and tricks – for instance, they have built-in reminders to notify primary care providers when a patient is due for preventative screening or follow-up.

 

Our team at the eCE supports a number of additional tools to optimize EMRs, such as a Chronic Non Cancer Pain tool and a Depression and Anxiety Encounter Assistant. These tools are based on current best practices and guidelines, and are meant to serve as decision support guides – giving primary care providers the information they need at their fingertips so more time is focused on patient care.

 

As a primary care provider, I know that if we can make things easier for providers they have more time to support patients.

 


 

We are pleased to share that just last week, the WWLHIN announced a strategy to support ongoing and new initiatives to prevent opioid addiction and overdose. The eCE has been provided with funding to work with partners and support primary care providers with an EMR tool that will highlight morphine equivalents to assist with decreasing opioid doses and use. 

 

For more information, please click here.

 


 

 

Follow us on twitter (@eHealthCE) and join the Digital Health Week conversation using #thinkdigitalhealth!

 

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Digital Health Week – November 13 – 19, 2017

As one of the many participating healthcare organizations, the eHealth Centre of Excellence invites you to celebrate digital health and the positive impacts its making for Canadians during Digital Health Week from November 13 – 19, 2017.  

 

Patients, caregivers and health professionals are all invited to share their experiences and perspectives in conversations that will inform digital health in Canada. 

 

Be part of the conversation throughout the week via #ThinkDigitalHealth or learn more at www.betterhealthtogether.ca/digital-health-week.

 

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