Digital Health Canada’s Western Region Virtual Conference 2022 – Day 2

By Event Correspondent Cathy Liu 

This is a note about the afternoon sections from the conference on March 29th. Above 70 attendees joined the sections for an afternoon of learning from public and private sector leaders exploring themes of importance to Ontario patients, caregivers, and digital health professionals.

The afternoon reflection section featured Brianne Bourdon, Dr. John Pawlovich, Emily Hamilton, Haley Moore, Jill Reedijk, Lynn Pelletier, Mary Sanagan, May Tuason, Naima Salemohamed, Roee Ben-ELI (Telus Health), Shannon Malovec, and Terri Baker in the panel discussion tackled a wide range of topics about virtual care and hot topics during Covid-10 pandemic.

Following is a summary of one of the sections: “Cyber Security and Digital Health Panel Discussion-Day2”

How digital health improves staff engagement in psychological health and safety

Digital tools supported staff from at least five aspects. Firstly, the Electro Medical Records has facilitated staff being able to do the work they have the expertise, reduced time on non-value works, thus leaving the resources for patients who need in person care best. Secondly, virtual care has been proved to meet the needs of vulnerable populations who get technology and telemedicine support expanded the program through online means during the pandemic. A stepped care model using online support has been initiated in BC and will be put in place across the BC province to support clients. The other is innovation, applications have been, and a pilot hub will be set up and be used with the population that suffers from mental health and substance use. The third area is that digital tools facilitate visits to serve very vulnerable clients, the staff could provide virtual care while feeling physically and psychologically safe. Self-monitoring tools also help staff with better mental health for themselves. Challenges of communication during the pandemic across the organization, digital tools help staff gain a sense of belonging to the organization; facilitating virtual meetings and workshops are part of day-to-day work now. Finally, virtual care makes staff realize that people can work any time any place.

How the Covid-19 pandemic impacted virtual digital health, specifically in mental health

The impact is huge, for the pandemic promoted a rapid move to technology that would have taken years in health care organization’s systems. Using online support in digital health helped us to support clients in their earlier state of mental illness and substance use issues. We must adopt the tools and reach people on the long waitlist, some of whom live in remote areas. With non-valuated work being done by AI technologies, we could effectively address patients that we have not been able to put in place to date.

What are the challenges of virtual care at the end of the pandemic?

The challenge is how do we move forward further based on the current virtual realities, decide the type of approaches that can be added to what we already do, and do things differently. We also need to maintain that kind of push, regulatory guidelines, take factors into context, and forward rapid implementation of tools.

Learn more about the Western Region Virtual Conference here.