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In honour of this year’s Mental Health Week (May 7 - 13), our annual Partnerships in eHealth symposium – which took place on May 9 – put the spotlight on the digital health tools and resources currently available (or coming soon) to support healthcare providers in the delivery of care to patients with mental health concerns.


In his opening remarks, our Managing Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia talked about how the mental health service bundle we offer can help at different points of care. We were also delighted to welcome back Dr. Robert Bell, Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, who gave a keynote address on the crucial role that elements of the service bundle play in assisting healthcare providers to connect patients quickly and seamlessly with the mental health supports they need. Among the tools that were highlighted:


The System Coordinated Access (SCA) program’s electronic referral (eReferral) solution: in the coming months, the Ocean eReferral Network will be onboarding mental health supports – enabling healthcare providers to quickly and seamlessly make referrals for their patients, directly from the electronic medical record (EMR) or from ONE ID single-sign on.


OntarioMD’s Health Report Manager (HRM): HRM has recently gone live at Canada Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW) and Homewood Health Centre, enabling them to send reports directly into a primary care provider’s EMR.


This year’s event also featured two engaging panels. The first panel, empowering patients with information – just a click away, included the following talks:

  • CMHA WW’s eHealth Lead Gerrit Sepers gave an informative talk on Big White Wall, an online mental health and wellbeing service offering self-help programs, creative outlets and a community environment
  • As the CEO and founder of the Life Recovery Program, Paul Radkowski showcased how his online site provides self-directed video based guidance to help families/friends and those struggling with addiction and mental health issues
  • Fred Wagner, Executive Director of CMHA WW, spoke about Bounce Back, which is a provincial skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage symptoms of depression and anxiety using an online platform

The second panel was on using technology to support seamless connections to care, with panelists speaking about a number of different ehealth resources:

  • Daniel Pearson Hirdes, CEO of HealthIM, spoke about how HealthIM strengthens communications between polices services and hospitals, as a resident undergoing a mental health crisis transitions across the spectrum of care – from community-based to acute services
  • The eHealth Centre of Excellence’s Wendy Lang and Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Alexandre Traveres gave a joint presentation on how Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) eConsult is getting primary care providers expert advice from mental health specialists quickly – so they have the information they need to create a care plan for their patients, without patients needing to wait for a referral
  • The eHealth Centre of Excellence’s Meghan Brenner-Burgoyne and Stephanie Chin teamed up with family physician Dr. Neil Naik to talk about how tablets in waiting rooms are supporting patients to complete mental health assessments, with that information going directly into their doctor’s EMR

Both panel sessions were followed by stimulating Q&A sessions moderated by Ted Alexander, the eHealth Centre of Excellence’s Vice President of Partnerships and Clinical Innovation. Attendees were invited to share their response to the presentations, which led to some interesting and wide-ranging discussions about the current and future states of digital health.


Interactive booths were also set up, so during lunch and breaks, attendees could get a firsthand look at the digital health tools on offer and ask questions in a one-on-one setting.  


Overall, it was an exciting day and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the eMental Health resources available in our community to support healthcare providers and their patients.


Thank you to all of our presenters, booth hosts, organizers, and attendees – we hope to see you again next year!


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And you’re invited! This year’s event is taking place during mental health week, so we’ve decided to spotlight some of the digital health resources available (or coming soon) in our community. Please view the invitation below for more information. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP today!




Please click here to download the PDF.


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This past month, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) was delighted to be hosting our 3rd annual “Partnerships in eHealth” symposium, with this year’s theme focusing on Transformational Change.


To kick things off, attendees heard some fascinating keynote addresses from three speakers. First, Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Bob Bell provided an update on "Patients First", a comprehensive, ambitious and transformative strategy for healthcare in Ontario. During his talk, Dr. Bell noted that the adoption of digital health tools that enhance clinical workflows is part of Patients First’s commitment to provide Ontarians with better and faster access to high quality, integrated health services, and the eCE is proud to be supporting this initiative.



Huda Idrees, CEO of Dot Health, was next to speak, and her talk focused on turning the healthcare system on its head, creating a bottom-up economy by using technology to give patients access to their own information – empowering them to improve their health and keeping them out of hospitals and at home, where they want to be. 


In his speech, Chief Bryan Larkin, Waterloo Regional Police Service, spoke about opportunities for collaboration and integration between sectors. He suggested that we start shifting traditional job roles in innovative new ways that better suit the needs of the residents living in our community – or in other words, we should start taking a look at the "unusual suspects" to drive change.



For the second portion of the event, attendees broke into three groups to discuss the past, present, and future state of healthcare with sessions moderated by:

  • Dr. Upe Mehan, Family Doctor at the Centre for Family Medicine Family Heath Team
  • Ted Alexander, Manager of Benefits Realization for the connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program
  • Krizia Francisco, Portfolio Manager, Digital Health & Innovation for the ‎Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN)



We are collecting notes from these breakout sessions to help us inform the work we’re doing here at the eCE. Click here to read about how your input from last year’s event influenced the development of our System Coordinated Access (SCA) program.


Overall, it was an invigorating, engaging and collaborative day – and we’re already excited to do it all again next year! Thank you to everyone who took part, and watch this space for more updates.



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On April 13, the Centre for Family Health Team (CFFM FHT) eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) was delighted to host Partnerships in eHealth: Enabling our Residents through Personal Health Records at the Hanlon Convention Centre in Guelph. Attendees included representatives from the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integrated Network (WWLHIN), eHealth Ontario, and connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program, as well as health service providers, clinicians, and patients. In his opening address, eCE Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia emphasized that 89% of patients surveyed in 2014 by Canada Health Infoway expressed a desire to access their health records.


“If we provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision, this will lead to more empowered patients.” — Dr. Alarakhia



Dr. Alarakhia discussed several local initiatives that use technology to connect patients with information, before introducing cancer survivor Dave deBronkart to the stage to deliver the first keynote speech. “e-Patient Dave,” as he is now known online, spoke to the room about his journey navigating the healthcare system.


He was surprised to discover that much of the information he needed could only be found through alternative channels, such as online message boards. He urged healthcare professionals to find new ways of sharing information with patients — and the next presenter, Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Robert Bell, talked about some eHealth 2.0 projects that intend to do just that. He also acknowledged that Waterloo Wellington is leading the way in Ontario for enabling technologies.



The symposium’s final speech came from Tracey Carr from McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine, who shared some compelling projections (see stats below) that really speak to the importance of bringing patients into the circle of care. Attendees then divided into groups for the afternoon breakout sessions, giving them the chance to share ideas and insights on ehealth and patient engagement. Overall, it was a wonderful event and we thank all who participated. Hope to see you next year!


If Canadians (18-54) could access their personal health records:

– 47 million in-person visits to healthcare providers could be avoided
– 70 million hours in total would be saved
– 18.8 million fewer hours could be taken off work, which would add $400 million worth of activity to Canada’s economy

Statistics from Conference Board of Canada (2012)



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On April 15th, the eHealth Centre of Excellence welcomed people from our region and across the Province to Partnerships in eHealth: Bridging Provincial Strategy and Local Achievement, held in collaboration with Communitech’s Life and Health Sciences Peer2Peer group.


Our goal for this event was to bring people together for conversations about eHealth development that has a meaningful impact on patient care, and we believe we accomplished that with a turnout of 84 people from local health service providers, the Waterloo Wellington LHIN, eHealth Ontario, our partners from the cSWO Program, and Communitech members.


All of our speakers did a fantastic job and we’d like to thank them for making the time to attend our event and present for us. We’d also like to thank everyone who attended and we hope you enjoyed the day!



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Hannele Kivinen
January 11, 2022
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