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AFHTO conference image


We’re excited to share that our team will be presenting at this year’s AFHTO conference, Tectonic shifts: rebuilding primary care in a new world.


Our workshop is scheduled for October 8th, and will focus on how digital health tools can support identification and planned proactive visits for patients at risk of complications from COVID-19.


At the end of this interactive session, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe tools to help clinicians and their offices proactively identify and connect with patients at risk during COVID-19

  2. Identify how to link these digital health tools together and embed them into patient care workflows

  3. Apply the tools to support the reopening of in-person visits with the reality of practicing in the time of COVID-19

We hope you’ll be able to join us – early bird registration ends today, so click here to register now! For more information on the conference, please visit the AFHTO website.


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We’ve had another busy and productive year here at the eHealth Centre of Excellence, and we’re proud of what our team and partners across the community have achieved. We’d like to share a few of our highlights from 2019.


We were delighted when our Managing Director, Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia, was recognized as this year’s recipient of the Canadian Health Informatics Award (CHIA) Digital Health Executive of the Year. Well deserved!


Our team was out spreading the word on the benefits of digital health adoption. We presented at several events and conferences, including but not limited to:

  • eHealth Canada 2019
  • AFHTO (Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario) – where we received top marks for best group presentation for our talk on our digital health toolbox!  Presentation pictured right.
  • And most recently, we participated in the eConsult Centre of Excellence forum

eCE team at AFHTO


Our digital health tools also hit some big milestones! Read more below:


Virtual Visits


There have been over 18,000 virtual visits (as of December 15, 2019) in the Waterloo Wellington region since our program launched in March 2018 – the most in any region in the province!


We were featured in the Waterloo Record and on 570 News!


In May, the virtual visits team received the Patient Care Innovation Team Award at the 2019 Canadian Health Informatics Awards (CHIA) Gala and in November, received a jury-selected ITAC Ingenious Award for our work. Thank you to the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and Think Research for being great partners.


                            Virtual visits award




In the Waterloo Wellington region alone, nearly 12,000 eConsults have been sent since we launched the program locally in October 2016, with the eConsult Centre of Excellence providing great leadership. 


Click here for an updated list of specialists from our region who are currently accepting eConsults. 


The OTN eConsult platform underwent a big upgrade in November, enabling clinicians to access their local specialty groups more efficiently.




We expanded the forms available in tablets to include not only mental health assessments but other questionnaires as well. Patients are now available to update their personal information in the tablet. All information entered into a tablet is uploaded directly to the provider’s EMR.


All Community Health Centres (CHCs) in Waterloo Wellington are now using tablets!


EMR Tools & Coaching


Our Community Portal launched! You can now download our EMR supports directly from the portal, and make use of the community forum to ask questions and provide feedback.


We made some great new updates for two of our EMR tools: the palliative care toolkit and our lower back pain tool.


EHR Tools


For 2019 latest about the Electronic Health Record, take a look at the latest connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) newsletter!





As of December 15, 2019, over 93,000 eReferrals have been sent through the Ocean eReferral Network, the solution supported by our System Coordinated Access (SCA) program since we launched in August 2017! We would like to thank Think Research, CognisantMD, and the Centre for Effective Practice for the great collaborative effort.


In a recent survey (with more than 1500 participants), 96% of patients agreed that eReferral is an easy process and that eReferral notifications improve the patient experience.


                              Patient testimonial


We're looking forward to seeing what 2020 will bring! One thing is for sure: the future of healthcare is here.

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We are excited to share that the eHealth Centre of Excellence’s Virtual Visits: Delivering Primary Care through Innovation has been judged as an ITAC (Information Technology Association of Canada) Ingenious Award winner in the SME Public/Not-for-Profit Category.


The ITAC Ingenious Awards were created to recognize all of the very best applications of technology from all corners of Canada and from all sectors, and to celebrate innovation and excellence. Thank you to ITAC and to the jury of judges for this honour – we are extremely proud of the work that our team is doing with patients and clinicians.


View the press release from ITAC here.


View more about the virtual visits award here.


We also recognize that we couldn’t lead this important work without continued support from our partners across the community. In particular, we’d like to extend our gratitude to the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and Think Research for their collaborations on this project.


ITAC Ingenious awards ceremony



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The eHealth Centre of Excellence was delighted to be invited to participate in two presentations at this year’s AFHTO (Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario) conference.


The first presentation, “What the Fax? Improving Patient Care With Ocean eReferral” was led by the System Coordinated Access (SCA) Program Delivery Teams. The teams demonstrated the value of the Ocean eReferral tool, which functions from within a primary care provider’s EMR, or internet browser, to make the referral process more seamless and efficient for providers and patients. Since going live in August 2017, over 65,000 eReferrals have been processed and Ocean eReferral has since expanded to additional regions across Ontario.


AFHTO presentation on eReferral


For our next presentation, “The Digital Health Toolbox: Enabling High-Performance Teams In The Delivery Of Integrated, Patient-Centred Care,” members from the eHealth Centre of Excellence gave an overview of the entire suite of digital health tools that we support – Virtual Visits, eConsult, Tablets, EMR forms and tools, eReferral and Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools – all of which are available for use today, with adoption support offered by our team of experts. These tools can be available to Ontario Health Teams.


This session, which was attended by approximately 150 healthcare professionals, CEOs, Executive Directors and staff, highlighted how these tools can be used together to support integrated care for patients across a spectrum of needs. 


AFHTO photo

AFHTO photo


We ended the talk with a call to action:


How can your team leverage the tools presented to support the care they provide to their patients? Connect with us to support your journey as you transition into Ontario Health Teams! 


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Our eCE team loves a great challenge, which is evident in our latest Food Bank donation competition! Each of the four teams were assigned a donation category and were given two weeks to fill their Food Bank donation boxes.


Congratulations to “The Lucky Team” who won the challenge!

Food drive boxes image

The winning team!



At the end of the day, the biggest winner is The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. With combined efforts, our teams donated 303 items and $820 in donations. These donations will be used to assist 1 in 20 households in Waterloo Region who are in need of food assistance.


Since hunger can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, The Food Bank relies on community support to assist households in our region all year around.  



Did you know?

  • 34,408 people – 35% of who are children – access emergency hamper and community meal programs as well as many other vital supports.  

  • Last year, The Food Bank acquired and distributed 4,523,167 pounds of food to a network of 100+ community programs and agency partners.

  • 1,600 community meals are distributed every day are distributed every day, with all food groups equally represented.


How can you help?


The Food bank experiences a significant drop in donations during the summer, which makes summertime the perfect time to donate! The Full Bellies. Happy Hearts. ½ million meal challenge kicked off on June 1 and is running until August 31. Gather your workplace together, divide up into teams and challenge each other to see who can bring in the most donations!


Fore more information about The Full Bellies. Happy Hearts. ½ million meal challenge, click here.


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We are thrilled to announce that our Virtual Visits program won the Patient Care Innovation Team Award at the Canadian Health Informatics Awards (CHIA), which are sponsered by Digital Health Canada and ITAC Health, and are presented at the annual CHIA Gala at the e-Health Conference.


The 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.


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.


Virtual visits team
























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!


Virtual visits stats


“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


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


For more information about this award, click here.


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


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Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia

We are thrilled to announce that the Digital Health Executive of the Year has been awarded to our Managing Director, Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia!


Canadian Health Infomatics Awards (CHIA) are sponsored by Digital Health Canada and ITAC Health and are presented at the annual CHIA Gala at e-Health. The Digital Health Executive of the Year award recognizes an individual Executive whose outstanding contributions as a leader have helped advance Digital Health or Virtual Health in Canada.


As the Managing Director at the eHealth Centre of Excellence, 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:


eHealth statistics


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!


Email: [email protected]


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It's been a busy and very productive year at the eHealth Centre of Excellence! We are excited to announce that 2018 was a year was full of new milestones across our System Coordinated Access (SCA) team, Quality Based Improvement and Care (QBIC) team and the connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) team!


Let’s look at some of the year’s highlights:


January to April highlights image



May to August highlights


September to December highlights

What else happened in 2018?


June 2018


The SCA program celebrated a huge milestone! In June, the program reached 5,000 eReferrals processed in Waterloo Wellington!


Current Update as of December 2018: Over 17,000 eReferrals have been processed in Waterloo Wellington!


July 2018


Through the QBIC program, there was increased access to specialists through eConsult.



October 2018 


Our teams were at Health Quality Ontario and presented posters on the following: 


Integrating to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) to Tackle Stigma: An Evaluation of Using Tablets to Start Mental Health Assessments in Primary Care


The Digital Health Drug Repository Improves Patient Safety by Supporting Prescribing Decisions and Medication Reconciliation


Developing Strong Communication Between Providers and Patients Through the Deployment of an Electronic Referral Solution Across Ontario


Poster presentations image


November 2018


Digital Health week was a great success this year and our team celebrated with a week full of webinars! If you missed them during November, click on the links below for full access to the presentations!


Leveraging Partnerships to Enhance Patient Care   

Virtual Care in WWLHIN    

Clinical Value of Standardized Primary Care Information


In addition to a great Digital Health Week, our team celebrated the launch of the Palliative Care tool being available to Clinicians in Waterloo Wellington! Read more about the Palliative Care tool by clicking here.


To end off the month, our Managing Director, Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia, received an Award of Excellence from the Ontario College of Family Physicians!



December 2018


To wrap up the end of another year, our eCE team gathered a collection of gifts for oneROOF Youth Services in Kitchener, ON! To learn more about oneROOF, please visit their website:


eCE team busy gathering items for One Roof

























A message from the eHealth Centre of Excellence Managing Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia


It’s been another exciting and busy year at the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE)! Over 2018, our team at the eCE has continued working with stakeholders across Waterloo Wellington and the province to ensure they receive the tools they need to deliver the best health care possible.


We are very excited to see how far Digital Health has come over the past year as our team continues to strive for excellence! Electronic Referral is now live in five LHINs and is contributing to reductions in wait times for hip and knee replacements.


Over 4,000 virtual visits have been completed and have improved the access patients have to their own primary care provider.


Pharmacies now have access to provincial drug data which supports their role in medication reconciliation.


All of these initiatives have been implemented by working closely with health care providers and patients. Thank you to everyone for your continued support. I would like to pass along my warmest wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!



Thank you for another great year of innovation in Digital Health!





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It’s conference season! In addition to eHealth 2018 and WWCRQI, the eHealth Centre of Excellence has participated in a number of other events that recently.


Kidney Talks 2018

eHealth Centre of Excellence Managing Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia (pictured left) gave a presentation at Kidney Talks 2018, hosted by the Ontario Renal Network (ORN), and spoke about how the Kidney Wise toolkit is now available in a format that can be integrated with primary care electronic medical records (EMRs). For more information on this tool, take a look at the QBIC (Quality Based Improvements in Care) catalogue!

Achieving Excellence Together 2018

eHealth Centre of Excellence team members Allie Piatkowski and Lori-Anne Huebner participated in a Health Links panel that highlighted different types of Health Links evaluations in Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province. Their presentation focused on the evaluation that they had completed on the Health Links approach to care in the Waterloo Wellington LHIN, to understand how it is impacting patients and care providers. To take a look at their Health Links case studies, please click here.


Hacking Health Café

As part of Communitech’s Peer2Peer Network, Hacking Health Waterloo provides a forum where technology creators and health care professionals can connect to discuss and collaborate on issues with the hopes of improving health care in Waterloo Region. To help foster this collaboration among the digital health community, Hacking Health Cafés are held monthly across various locations in the region.


The eHealth Centre of Excellence was invited to the June Hacking Health Café to present on the Waterloo Wellington VirtualCare pilot program, and QBIC team members Meghan Brenner-

Burgoyne (pictured below, left) and Sara Di Gregorio provided an overview and background of the project, as well as a live demonstration of the VirtualCare platform. The audience was heavily engaged and the presentation yielded many great questions that sparked some interesting discussion – it was a pleasure to meet and network with this diverse group of professionals and we hope to join another Hacking Health Café again in the future!




We’re always looking for more opportunities to share knowledge and spread the word on the digital health services available (or coming soon).


For more information, please feel free to explore our website or contact [email protected].





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A number of team members from the eHealth Centre of Excellence were thrilled to be invited to participate in the McMaster Waterloo Wellington Clinical Research and Quality Improvement Symposium, an annual event which puts the spotlight on local clinical research and quality improvement initiatives. This year’s symposium took place on May 30, and was attended by over 250 students, clinicians, professionals, and researchers from across the Waterloo Wellington region.



Alexandra Piatkowski and Billy Bostad presented a poster based on some of the research they’ve done for the connecting South West Ontario (cSWO) Program Primary Care Data Sharing (PCDS) proof of concept, which is exploring the feasibility of making data from primary care electronic medical records (EMRs) shareable with the cSWO Regional Clinical Viewer, ClinicalConnect™. You can see their full poster presentation here.


There was also a poster presentation by Jennifer La from our QBIC (Quality Based Improvements in Care) Program, which took a closer look at the benefits of giving patients tablets to fill out mental health assessments while they’re in the waiting room. Her poster can be viewed here.


Heba Tallah Mohammed from our System Coordinated Access (SCA) Program was also on hand to present her poster – available here – on the benefits of the electronic referral (eReferral) platform currently being deployed by the SCA team.


The eHealth Centre of Excellence also hosted a booth this year (pictured left), giving attendees the chance to learn more about the various digital health services and tools we offer.


And after the event, we were excited to learn that our participation was recognized with the following awards:






For more information on this year’s WWCRQI, please visit:




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Hannele Kivinen
January 11, 2022
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