When Canadians need urgent care we hear that fewer than half are able to see their doctor on the same or next day after calling. Each time this happens, patients wait unnecessarily or they seek faster care in the emergency room.
By properly integrating digital tools in our healthcare system, we hope to solve some of our access problems, while making medical care more convenient and more cost-effective.
Whether it’s an app for patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or an online platform that connects patients with mental illness to care and peer support, WIHV is evaluating a number of digital health tools with partners including Canada Health Infoway and Ontario Telemedicine Network.
Identifying symptoms early on and having prompt treatment is the gold standard in health care. Despite broader awareness that low levels of physical activity, poor mental health in new parents, tobacco and alcohol misuse are common, few systems are in place to assess and monitor symptoms early on. While evidence-based screening surveys can help identify patients who may be at risk and effective medications and non-medication treatment options are out there, most primary care settings do not use them as proactively as they could.
The Proactive, Personalized Self-Management & Decision Support (PPDS) program includes projects that use evidence-based screening in primary care to offer customized resources to both patients and providers, and support evidence-based pathways in clinical care. These studies are spearheaded by Dr. Noah Ivers, Innovation Fellow at WIHV and Scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, and Dr. Payal Agarwal, Innovation Fellow at WIHV.
The Proactive, Personalized Self-Management & Decision Support (PPDS) program includes projects that use evidence-based screening in primary care to provide more customized resources to both patients and providers, and support evidenced-based pathways in clinical care.
The PPDS approach uses these four steps:
|Screening While you Wait: Physical Activity
||Screening While You Wait 2:
Tobacco and Alcohol Use
|Proactive, Personalized Postpartum Mental Healthcare (P3MH)
Transthoracic Echocardiograms are really important for diagnosing and managing cardiovascular disease. However, despite their usefulness, there are concerns that a growing number of tests being ordered by attending level cardiologists and primary care physicians aren’t always appropriate and may lead to false positives, unnecessary procedures, and longer wait times. This is unpleasant for patients and ends up costing Ontario’s health care system even more in the long run.
Echo WISELY is an international study led by WIHV that looks at whether educating physicians on the appropriate ordering of echocardiograms will help reduce costs and improve care for patients.
For patients who have had a heart attack, clinical guidelines strongly recommend proper cardiac rehabilitation and medications to help reduce the risk of a recurrence. However, data from Ontario shows that twelve months after patients experience a heart attack, adherence to medications drops by 50% and only 30-40% actively choose to participate in cardiac rehabilitation.
Under the leadership of Dr. Noah Ivers, Innovation Fellow at WIHV and Scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, researchers are looking into whether improved communication with patients will help to advance their understanding of recommended treatments and lead to better health outcomes. The study is called Interventions to Support Long-term Adherence aNd Decrease cardiovascular events (ISLAND).
Managing complex conditions is a difficult task for both patients and care providers. Primary care doctors may need specialized advice and rapid access to tests in order to decide together with their patients what the best course of action will be.
As a one-stop-shop for a variety of medical services, SCOPE has simplified the referrals process for hundreds of patients and created a feedback reporting system to help family physicians keep track of when and where patients have been admitted or received treatments. The program also helps them navigate hospital and community resources, as WIHV discovered in their evaluation.
When family doctors need to quickly rule out a condition for their patients, sometimes the emergency room is their only option for urgent imaging. With 1-800-IMAGING, now they can speak directly over the phone with a member of the medical imaging team to discuss patient needs, arrange for rapid and appropriate testing and discuss exam results in very short order.
To see if 1-800-IMAGING filled a gap in access to appropriate, fast and reliable imaging, the WCH Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) and JDMI evaluated the program.