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We were delighted to have our virtual visits program featured in the Waterloo Record and on 570 News!


From the Record article: 


As the province pledges more funding to expand virtual care by doctors, this region is already embracing technology to make primary health care more convenient.


Since a pilot project launched in March 2018, nearly 17,000 virtual visits have been made in Waterloo Wellington — the most virtual visits in any region across the province.


Read more here!


Our Managing Director, Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia, was interviewed on the Mike Farwell show on 570 News Kitchener:


You can listen to the entire program here. (The interview took place on November 20)



These interviews come on the heels of the provincial announcement earlier this month that the first phase of the "Digital First for Health" strategy will focus on virtual care, with about 55,000 more video visits over the next year and $3 million in funding to compensate physicians.


Christine Elliott virtual visits announcement



Any Ontario Health Team (OHT) who is interested in the work we’re doing here should feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] – we are happy to share what we’ve learned with you.




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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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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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As we mentioned on our blog not too long ago, virtual visits will be coming soon to Waterloo Wellington!


Recently, this exciting news was profiled by a number of media outlets, including the Waterloo Record and CBC Kitchener. And check out an interview with our Director Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia (and a peek at some of the eHealth Centre of Excellence team!) in this feature that aired on CTV Kitchener.


The eHealth Centre of Excellence, in partnership with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) will be rolling out virtual visits across Waterloo Wellington in a year-long pilot co-funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and REACH (Resources for Evaluating, Adopting and Capitalizing on Innovative Healthcare Technology). REACH is an $8.2-million grant funding program being delivered by the Ontario Centres of Excellence on behalf of Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.


The pilot is expected to begin in February 2018. Keep watching this space for updates!


If you have questions in the meantime, or are interested in getting involved in the pilot project, please contact QBIC Change Management Specialist Meghan Brenner-Burgyone



VENDOR ANNOUNCEMENT: We are pleased to announce that the successful vendor to support the eVisit Primary Care pilot in the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) is Think Research, a Toronto-based company that offers a number of clinical tools that connect patients and clinicians to each other while facilitating best practices. Please see below for more details.









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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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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 [email protected].


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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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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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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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Hannele Kivinen
January 11, 2022
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