July 5, 2024

Exploring Innovation and Community at Red Fish Healing Centre and New St. Paul’s Hospital

By Anne Tran Fazzalari

As an attendee at the CHIEF Executive Forum Spring Symposium 2024 in Vancouver, I had the privilege of visiting two remarkable places that are at the forefront of innovation in their respective communities: Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health & Addiction (Coquitlam) and Providence Health Care – New St. Paul’s Hospital Project (Vancouver).

Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health & Addiction (Coquitlam)

As a visitor, I was unaware of the prevalence of substance use (95%) and mental illness (85%) in Vancouver’s lower east. There, 6.8 overdose deaths per day (271 deaths per million) outpaces the 440 deaths per million in the United States.  Fortunately, there is Red Fish.

Red Fish is a leading centre for mental health and addiction treatment, providing care and support for the most severe, complex substance use and mental health issues. Red Fish’s 105-bed facility uses modern technology to support clinicians, staff, and patients, with electronic ordering and documentation​, and medication administration supported by photo ID scanning (rather than bracelets, which may be stigmatizing for individuals in the community).

This Oracle implementation is one of the largest in North America by scope: 42,000 users in 40 facilities; 8 thousand daily concurrent users, with potential for $13-15M in savings, and decreasing 36 redundant systems with an enviable 80 – 90% adoption rate. All this effort is done in the background, so that the medicine gardens, therapeutic landscape, and green spaces provide Mother Nature’s natural outdoor escape. Inside, patients can access a fitness area along with art and music rooms for therapeutic focus.

At Red Fish, the holistic, health promotion approach which I studied during my days in graduate school is alive and well, with the Centre’s integrated care model which focuses on both physical and mental wellness, as well as family, behaviours, substance free living, and life objectives. The trifecta of client (better transitions and continuity of care), provider (safer care with support alerts, medication administration tools and practices, reduced administrative burden over time) and system value benefits (fewer adverse events with improved medication safety incorporating computerized provider order entry) have been realized.

I was excited to learn that wearables and sensor technologies, along with virtual reality, were being leveraged to address clinical needs, helping patients cope with triggers they may encounter when they’re back in the community. The highlight for me was when I inquired about contingency plans for the Centre—it’s been about a quarter of a century but the narrative finally has changed: mostly everything is digital. Only when there are extenuating circumstances does the team go back to paper as a back-up.

Providence Health Care – New St. Paul’s Hospital (Vancouver)

Our next stop was an unassuming industrial location, where the New St. Paul’s Hospital project team provided an overview of their tremendous efforts over the last few years and walked CHIEF participants through various mock-up rooms.

The design plans were initiated on paper and then re-produced virtually. Subsequently, the team created life-size proofs-of-concept for surgical, critical care, and NICU spaces, along with a busy care coordination centre for various stakeholders—clinicians, security, and housekeeping—to walk through and provide input.

I was excited to learn of the modern technologies to be incorporated in the new facility, like the green lights used in the operating room, along with other green, environmentally sustainable considerations. Additionally, I was most impressed with the thoughtful considerations for patients and staff, including details like door handles, types of door, framing angles, and double-action swinging doors. Having worked in a hospital early in my career, these seemingly inconsequential details can actually play a pivotal role for staff and patients.

I really appreciated walking through the spaces to consider the design implications and imagined myself working or being treated as a patient in the planned environment. I was glad to hear that each patient will have a private room, that new mothers will be able to be in the same room with their NICU babies, and that food services and maintenance, often overlooked, were included in the consultation.

It was evident that the project team made every effort to ‘future-proof’ this amazing teaching and research hospital, bridging current and future needs, along with connections between acute and community settings.

Reflections and Looking Forward

Red Fish Healing Centre and New St. Paul’s Hospital are excellent examples of balancing technological advancement with community values. As we continue to navigate the digital transformation journey, these visits reminded me that at the heart of all innovations are people, collective aspirations, and creating inclusive spaces.

Both site visits offered a wealth of insight and inspiration, serving as a reminder to me that, although we typically live and breathe IT in our day-to-day lives, it’s the ‘health’ in digital health that should be at the forefront—putting people and process first when designing environments supported by modern technical solutions to drive innovation and continuous improvement.

Thank you Digital Health Canada—I am excited to share the lessons learned from the site visits, along with the AI topics from the CHIEF Executive Forum Spring Symposium 2024, with our team!

Author Anne Tran​​​​ Fazzalari is Vice‑President, Digital Transformation & Chief Information Officer at Canadian Pharmacists Association—part of the CHIEF Executive Forum Membership Community