Highlights from the Digital Health Canada Western Regional Conference

Written by Event Correspondent Inaara Karsan, Master of Health Informatics Candidate at the University of Toronto

Digital Health Canada’s annual Western Regional Conference took place on March 28th and 29th. The conference combined the annual Digital health Canada/ANHIX Calgary Winter Conference and the Vancouver Ahead of the Curve Conference into an amazing event that highlighted members’ digital health achievements in the west. Nearly 200 digital health professionals participated in March 28th’s afternoon sessions to learn more about initiatives that are making healthcare more accessible and equitable through optimizing the use of technology and data.

Covenant Health, Covenant Care and Covenant Living – Healthcare Reimagined l Covenant Family’s Innovation Strategy

Presenters: Patrick Dumelie, CEO, Covenant Health, Covenant Care and Covenant Living and Conny Avila, CIO, Covenant Health, Covenant Care and Covenant Living

Covenant Health is a Catholic health care provider that serves the province of Alberta and aims to shift the way healthcare is delivered. The current methods of healthcare delivery are provider-centric which can lead to system inefficiencies and a system that is reactive. This can lead to health services that are focused solely on treating sickness and delaying symptoms. Additionally, the senior population is growing at a faster rate than ever before which is leading to a high dependence on the healthcare services. An increased expectation that future seniors will need to support themselves at home for as long as possible and an overall reported desire for an integrated, patient-centered provincial healthcare system has led to Covenant’s Innovation Strategy. The strategy aims to ensure that Alberta’s health system leads transformation in Canada through developing a system that looks at a patient’s health holistically. The strategy focuses on moving the system from a reactive to a proactive approach that will focus on restoring and promoting health.

As a catalyst for supporting innovations and sharing it across the system, Covenant has the foundation necessary to help Alberta realize its goal of transforming healthcare system through innovation. Specifically, the strategy aligns to the government’s goals relating to the Aging in Place initiative that promotes greater independence and quality of life for seniors. The key initiatives of the strategy include developing an innovation portfolio, a roadmap for choice and independence among seniors, as well as innovations to support seniors to age in their communities. These initiatives foster creativity to challenge boundaries, partner with local companies to provide solutions, and effectively serve communities through innovation. Covenant and their partners have an opportunity to transform the system so that Albertans, specifically seniors, can successfully navigate and access products and services they need to remain active, healthy, and independent. The Innovation Strategy provides a means to empower Albertan seniors to improvement their quality of life due to a more proactive, connected, and efficient health system.

Healthcare Delivered Anywhere – Overcoming Geographic Challenges and Improving Access to Pediatric Critical Care: Remote Technology Solutions

Presenters: Dr. Tanya Holt, Pediatric Neurointensivist and Pediatric ICU Division Head, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital and assistant professor Pediatric Critical Care University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Gregory Hansen, Pediatric Neurointensivist at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital and adjunct nursing professor at the University of Regina. Moderated by Cory Fry, Senior Director, Teladoc Health

Indigenous children living in remote and rural Canada have limited access to paediatric speciality services. Therefore, children in these remote communities often experience high rates of medical transport out of their home communities for diagnostics and therapeutics. Remote presence robotic technology is a novel form of telemedicine that seeks to overcome the barrier of distance and time to improve healthcare access. The robot allows for direct patient visualization, examination and communication with local healthcare providers and family members. In Saskatchewan they are leveraging remote presence technology to provide timely access to care and diagnostics for children in order to comfortably triage patients at their bedside and identify if they need to be transported or if they can stay in their home community. This initiative has shown the value of technology to provide equitable and accessible care that is beneficial to the patient while also encouraging mentorship opportunities for local clinicians. In critical or emergency situations, having immediate access to specialist support can mean the difference between life and death. Remote presence robotic technology provides an effective solution to reduce unnecessary paediatric transfers and enhance culturally safe care in the child’s community through timely speciality care.

Day 1 Closing Plenary – Social Determinants of Health: Hear from non-traditional groups involved in wellness delivery and how these tie to health.

Presenters: Dale McFee, Chief of Police, Edmonton, Lynn Barr-Telford, Assistant Chief Statistician, Social, Health, Labour, Statistics Canada, Peter Smith, President & CEO, Strata Health Solutions, and Steve Kovacic, VP and Chief Human Resources Officer, The Good Samaritan Society. Moderated by Reg Joseph, Health Cities

The panel highlighted three major themes that serve as a call to action among non-traditional organizations to leverage data to improve the social determinants of health of communities:

  • Horizontal Data Integration and Governance: The ability to share data between health services, social services, education services, and research bodies would be valuable to approach similar goals in promoting the social determinants of health among communities. Siloed systems are not efficient in ensuring that all social determinants of health are accounted for when making health sector decisions. Policy decision are often made with only a partial story that is captured by the data. Therefore, system transformation is required to promote data integration between healthcare and non-traditional groups that impact health outcomes. We must work towards connecting pieces of data is a respectful way to address the interactions of different systems and to arrive at insights necessary to promote the social determinants of health.
  • Collaboration: A collaborative approach is required to bring partners around the table to make informed decisions about supporting the social determinants of health. This includes engaging community partners, software agencies, and justice services to place data into the real-world context. Data is necessary but not sufficient alone to enact system level transformation. Intent through collaboration is required to drive change in how data is used to address and promote the social determinants. Systems require innovation, data, and collaboration to make meaningful and informed decisions.
  • Data stewardship: A shift in mindset is necessary to become data stewards instead of data custodians. Data stewardship promotes an integrated system that makes data accessible and easy to use. The proportionality framework has the potential to drive data stewardship to ensure that data is not being left unused and rather it is leveraged to address decision made about the social determinants of health. Industry has the potential to lead and bring forward best practices in data stewardship to usher social systems into the age of integration.

Overall, the panelists concluded that the critical intersection between people, technology, and data is necessary for system transformation and data integration.

Learn more about the Western Region Virtual Conference here.