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Virtual Visits wins the Patient Care Innovation Team Award at the 2019 CHIA Gala!

Congratulations to our QBIC team on their Patient Care Innovation Award at the Canadian Health Informatics Awards (CHIA) Gala!


The award recognizes a for-profit healthcare ICT company and client team that have successfully implemented a health-IT solution that has positively impacted patient care in innovative ways and honours the private and public sector team effort.


Since VirtualCare went live 12 months ago, 67 primary care providers (PCPs) are registered, and 77% have conducted more than 3 visits with their patients. Patients have requested virtual visits with their PCP for reasons such as medication and prescriptions, to follow up on test results, to address new health issues, and discuss chronic conditions.



“The ability to have a virtual visit with my doctor reduces the need for a 45-minute drive to see my doctor for health concerns that can be dealt with through a virtual visit. My doctor monitors my progress while transitioning medications, without the need for me to visit their office. The virtual care application is easy to use and such a convenient way to get the care I need.” – Patient


Virtual Visits provide an efficient and convenient way for patients to connect with their primary care provider so they can be informed and engaged in their care. It is the ongoing dedication to digital health innovation that makes programs like Virtual Visits a success in our community!


Thank you to everyone for your involvement and continued support to expand digital health!


For more information on Virtual Visits or digital healthcare tools and services, please email:

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Digital Health Executive of the Year is awarded to Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia!

Our team is excited to announce that our Managing Director, Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Health Informatics Award (CHIA), Digital Health Executive of the Year!


The award is granted to an individual whose strong leadership has helped advance Digital Health or Virtual Health in Canada.


As the Managing Director at the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE), Dr. Alarakhia’s leadership has guided our organization to strive for digital health excellence over the past several years! The eCE has developed and deployed digital health tools and services that have strongly influenced health outcomes and driven improvements within the healthcare system.


The recent announcement of 10,000 Virtual Visits through the Quality Based Improvements in Care (QBIC) program, and the 41,000 (and climbing!) eReferrals recently sent, both demonstrate the community’s confidence in the usage of digital health across the region.


Additional milestones and high adoption rates are not far behind the two most recent announcements regarding Virtual Visits and eReferrals! The image below provides a comprehensive summary of how digital health is being used and adopted across the many facets of healthcare:



Thank you to all our stakeholders for your consistent involvement in the development and progression of digital health in our healthcare community! It is the unwavering support from all of you that continues to drive innovation forward and allows our team at the eCE to continue deploying digital health technology.  


If you have an interest in integrating digital health into your practice, send us an email and we would be happy to help you start your onboarding process!




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In the news: Diagnostic Imaging referrals at local hospitals go electronic

This past weekend, the Waterloo Record published an article about Diagnostic Imaging (DI) referrals at Waterloo Wellington hospitals going live on the Ocean eReferral Network.


From the article:


The aim is to improve the patient experience, and cut down on delays, lost referrals and missed appointments.


"There's no telephone tag back and forth," said Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia, director of the eHealth Centre of Excellence. "It will reduce the time to referral."


Click here to read more!

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Announcement from the MOHLTC: SCA program and eReferral are expanding

The ministry has announced the release of new online tools to improve patient experience, including enhanced wait times reporting and information sharing between health care organizations and patients.  We are excited to share as part of this announcement the province is investing $12.9 million over two years to support the expansion of the eHealth Centre of Excellence System Coordinated Access program model and the recently implemented Waterloo Wellington electronic referral (eReferral) system to additional LHINs.


Please click here to read the announcement in full.


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In the news: System Coordinated Access supporting quicker referrals to orthopedic care

recent article that ran in both the Kitchener Post and the Waterloo Record highlighted the central intake and electronic referral (eReferral) model that the eHealth Centre of Excellence’s System Coordinated Access (SCA) program is currently supporting. This model has been developed as one of the strategies to reduce the long wait times faced by patients residing in the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) who need access to specialized orthopedic care. 


In the current state, primary care doctors rely on fax machines to send referrals to orthopedic specialists, and have no way of knowing which surgeon has the shortest wait time. For this reason, they may send multiple referrals to different specialists across the region, which ends up making the waiting lists even longer.


In order to decrease wait times, the SCA program has been working in partnership with the Waterloo Wellington Regional Coordination Centre (RCC) to expand their already successful central intake model for diabetes referral to include orthopedic central intake (OCI). This system allows a family doctor to send a referral to the OCI who then ensures all the supporting documentation and tests are attached, duplicate referrals are removed from the queue and the referral is sent along to the appropriate surgeon.  


As the article notes, specialists often complain that the referrals they receive are incomplete and don’t contain the required information. This can lead to a further delay in the patient receiving the treatment they need.


To make this referral process even more streamlined and seamless, the SCA program has selected a vendor – a consortium of Think Research, CognisantMD, and the Centre for Effective Practice – to build an eReferral platform that will replace paper-based and fax processes and enable family doctors to make secure, online referrals to OCI and other healthcare specialists and services directly from the electronic medical records (EMRs).


The new system – called the Ocean eReferral Network – will allow doctors to track the status of the referral within their EMR with automatic notifications being sent to the patient all along the process.  The system will also give the RCC access to data that will allow them to forward referrals to the surgeon with the shortest wait list.


The SCA program is now in process of deploying the Ocean eReferral Network to family doctors as well as orthopedic specialists and hospitals that provide orthopedic surgeries throughout the WWLHIN, with plans to integrate other healthcare services in the near future.

Zach Weston, Manager of Performance at the WWLHIN, spoke to the potential for expansion of this model.


“This is the model of care we anticipate will be used for access to all specialties,” he said. “Our target right now is orthopedics. We’ve got long waits that are a priority for our LHIN to improve, but we anticipate that this will be the approach that we see with ophthalmology, for example, for cardiology, etcetera.”



If you have questions, please contact SCA Program Manager Lori Moran, at


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In the news: Access to narcotic information will improve patient care, Says ER Doctor

Recently, Guelph General Hospital (GGH) ER Doctor, Dr. Ian Digby, was interviewed by CBC Kitchener-Waterloo to discuss the connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program's Digital Health Drug Repository (DHDR). 


The early adopter sites (GGH, Guelph FHT, and Guelph Community Health Centre) are the first in the province to view provincial drug data via the cSWO Regional Clinical Viewer, ClinicalConnect™, which includes publicly funded drugs, monitored drugs (as of early December 2016) and pharmacy services information, in the integrated EHR. This initative is led by the eHealth Centre of Excellence, as the cSWO Change Management and Adoption Delivery Partner in the Waterloo Wellington region.


Says Dr. Digby:


"This is the best opportunity we've had yet to identify people who are maybe using the system inappropriately, and also to protect patients who are using it properly, but are just having complications from interactions with their medications."


"This is going to provide just an extra level of information for us about recent prescriptions, duplicate prescriptions, those sorts of things that we keep our eyes out for."



Click here to listen to the radio interview with the Morning Edition's Craig Norris.


Click here to view the article.


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In the news: New online tool will support people waiting for mental health services

The eHealth Centre of Excellence is partnering up with Canadian Mental Health Association, which oversees health care in the region, to develop an online tool that will include things like exercises and self-management tools people can explore while waiting for more comprehensive care.


The Waterloo Record recently did a write up on this portal, which you can read here!

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In the news: SCA program's innovation procurement process

Recently, Canadian Healthcare Technology featured an article on the innovation procurement process that the SCA program used to select Think Research Consortium to design and deploy the new eReferral solution for our region (and potentially beyond).


Click here to read the article!



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In the news: Regional health agency first to connect electronic patient records

From CBC Kitchener:


Patient reports are now a click away for caseworkers, family doctors and hospitals thanks to funding of $190,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW).


The one-time payment from the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network allows the CMHA WW to receive and share patient reports electronically from hospitals and specialty clinics through OntarioMD's Hospital Report Manager (HRM), which is a digital health tool deployed in collaboration with the eHealth Centre of Excellence.


It becomes the first Ontario community health agency to receive patient reports electronically.


To read the full story, please click here.



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In the news: Beyond the fax — a makeover for the region’s medical referral system

The eCE's System Coordinated Access (SCA) program was recently featured in the Waterloo Record. Check out the story (by Johanna Weidner) here, or read on below!


WATERLOO REGION — Doctors in this region are on the way to moving beyond the antiquated practice of faxing paper referrals to specialists.


The local eHealth centre is working on a new regionwide electronic referral system to streamline the process, reduce delays and also allow patients to check on the status.


"This is something that really came out of a need," said Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia, director of the eHealth Centre of Excellence.


The project is in collaboration with the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network, which oversees local health care, and the home care co-ordinator Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre.


Right now, he said, "it's frustrating for everyone."


Family doctors' offices fax referrals and don't know if they're received or when to expect a reply, specialists may not get all the information needed to proceed, and patients often are in the dark about the whole process.


"The next step is often not clear in the pathway," Alarakhia said for patients after a referral is made.


Those shortfalls prompted the partners to enlist an Ontario-based consortium to lead the design and deployment of a secure online referral platform for the Waterloo Wellington community that will standardize forms and the process.


It will build on a system already used at Cambridge Memorial Hospital for diagnostic imaging services, but expand it to include referrals to specialists and programs as well as a patient portal.


Through that portal, patients can see the status of their referral along with any special instructions for the appointment. Alarakhia said appointments are often cancelled because the patient was not prepared.


"It's very challenging to get that information in a timely way," Alarakhia said.


Patients or their caregivers can also see what services are available — such as a gentle exercise program or diet class for a patient with heart disease — and book them, or ask for a referral from their family doctor.


That part intrigues Alison Hendry. The Waterloo woman helps look after the health care of her elderly parents, and she's found the referral process is not always straightforward.


Being able to see where a referral is would be a huge help, while making the whole system easier for everyone.


"It will be very freeing for people to have access to that information," she said.

Listing services will also be useful, since Hendry knows it can take a lot of time to track down what's available.


"It's a considerable amount of work to find it."


At first the system will focus on three high-priority referral pathways, including diabetes programs, orthopedic specialists and chronic disease prevention and management resources. The plan is to expand the platform after that to other programs and services, and then to partnering health networks.


Alarakhia said they worked hard to get seven other health networks in the province on board and they'll have input on the design.


"What we're doing here needs to expand."

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