Technology and Innovation

Lessons on virtual care from the COVID-19 pandemic

On August 24, the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) hosted its first “virtual” Education Session titled Virtual Care in Canada: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The session focused on providing Canadian physicians with essential information on virtual care. “The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly changed the healthcare landscape, and unexpectedly drove physicians and patients to widely adopt virtual care to a much greater degree than ever before,” says Dr. Lisa Calder, incoming CEO at the CMPA. “We know physicians are looking for guidance on how to manage this new practice landscape.” In fact, since March of this year, the CMPA has received an unprecedented number of calls relating to virtual care. As use of virtual care continues to surge, it is crucial that physicians know how to...

COVID-19 highlights value of video laryngoscopy

By Patrick Nellis and Eliana Landori Reducing  risk In emergency departments and intensive care units across the country COVID-19 has changed the way hospitals operate. With an increased need to support patients in respiratory distress, a new focus is being placed on video laryngoscopy (VL) for intubating patients being put on a ventilator. VL has won growing acceptance because the enhanced visualization makes it more likely  intubation will be successful on the first try, making the process safer for physicians and patients compared to traditional direct laryngoscopy (DL).  Additionally, VL reduces the risk of spreading a highly contagious virus. “The availability of a video laryngoscope at every intubation minimizes errors and unforeseen difficulties, enhances fe...

Virtual health care: A win-win for patients and care providers

Dr. Navika Limaye has been able to see many of her patients through virtual care through-out the pandemic. By Jennifer Stranges In semi-retirement, 65-year-old Norma keeps busy with a roster of hobbies including choir, Barbershop quartet and Scottish country dancing. But when COVID-19 shut down the province, Norma, a patient at St. Joseph’s Health Centre’s family health team, had no option but to slow down. During this time, Norma, who lives with bipolar disorder, experienced a decline in her mental health. And if it were not for virtual health care – which was swiftly made available in Ontario due to the pandemic – Norma’s family physician may not have had the chance to catch the signs and adjust her treatment. “The virtual visits were fantastic because we were in touch on the phone on a ...

Winners of the AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge

One of the winning innovations…Able Innovations’ DELTA Platform enables patient transfers with just one caregiver. By Annie Webb and Margaret Polanyi The need has never been greater for technologies and services that benefit older Canadians and their caregivers—so it’s no surprise that the 2020 AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge attracted a lot of attention. The national competition recognizes top start-ups and supports entrepreneurship in Canada’s technology and aging sector. Finalists are challenged to explain how their technology-based solution can positively impact seniors or their caregivers. The first two competitions in the three-part series played out virtually in June and July, with five finalists competing at each event for $20,000 in cash, as well as in-kind prizes. ...

New virtual clinic streamlines care for COVID-19 patients

Dr. Marko Mrkobrada, one of the physicians who helped create the Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic at LHSC shows an example of an oximeter that is sent to high risk patients to help them self-monitor their oxygen levels. By Erinor Jacob-Levine Receiving a positive COVID-19 test result can be both scary and overwhelming due to the potentially serious and largely unknown consequences of the virus. To better support those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, six physicians at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have developed a new care pathway to identify, triage, monitor, and manage the potential complications of the disease through a new virtual clinic. The LHSC Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic is caring for patients referred from the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Emergency Department, and family ...

Better analytics, virtual visits help enhance diabetes care

By Jessica Rudd As a registered nurse who works with residents with dementia at a long-term care home in Edmonton Alberta, Karen Pliska, 55, is acutely aware of the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to those in her care, and to herself.  Not only is she working on the front lines, she must manage her own chronic condition, Type 1 diabetes, which puts her at greater risk of more severe symptoms if she were to contract COVID-19. Like millions of Canadians living with chronic health conditions, Pliska has had to adapt to new physical distancing protocols over the past several months that put a temporary halt to in-person visits with her doctor and the medical team at her diabetes clinic. But Pliska is among the growing swell of patients who have been able to harness the power of techn...

New video virtual care project enhances care for Ontario’s tiniest patients

Katie Lavelle with husband Jeff (left) and their newborn son Edward. By Julie Dowdie and Jessica Marangos When Katie and Jeff Lavelle’s newborn son, Edward, needed to be treated for complications arising shortly after his birth, the world-class team of paediatric experts assessing him were simultaneously right by his bedside and more than 40 kilometres away. Little Edward benefited from the launch of a new Kids Health Alliance (KHA) virtual care project that allows the care team at Markham Stouffville Hospital’s (MSH) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to consult experts at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) with the added use of video. The project introduces video capabilities between consulting physicians and nurses in MSH’s NICU and the SickKids Acute Care Transport Service (ACT...

Coping with COVID-19

How Microsoft technologies are enhancing hospitals’ response This year, the unprecedented arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare organizations to up their intelligence game – quickly. As part of that response, Microsoft technology is providing Canadian healthcare organizations with  information solutions that allow for safety, better experiences, health insights, and virtual care. “Microsoft realizes healthcare leaders are under tremendous pressures to respond to the crisis of COVID-19 – to keep frontline workers safe, support the reduction of the community spread, and provide unprecedented emergency care response and capacity for those who contract the disease,” says Lisa Carroll, Microsoft Canada’s Canadian Public Sector Lead.  “It is crucial for them to have  ...

National poll shows Canadians are overwhelmingly satisfied with virtual healthcare

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released a national poll  showing that Canadians are embracing virtual care options and would like to see them not only continued after the COVID-19 crisis subsides but improved and expanded in the future. The national poll conducted by Abacus Data between the 14th and 17th of May 2020 found that almost half of all Canadians have now accessed a physician using virtual care options and they are highly satisfied with the results. Those who connected with their doctor virtually during COVID-19 report a 91% satisfaction rate – 17 points higher than in-person emergency room visits. Moving forward, almost half (46%) of Canadians who had the opportunity to use virtual care since the pandemic outbreak would prefer a virtual method as a first point of con...

Adapting practices to protect expecting parents, newborns

Dr. Tali Bogler . Photo credit: Unity Health Toronto By Emily Dawson Across Canada and around the globe, physicians and health care professionals are rapidly adapting practices as they look to find effective ways to deliver care while minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19 for patients and health care providers. To help keep regular pre- and post-natal care and routine well-child visits on track, Dr. Tali Bogler came up with an alternative to the typical schedule to keep these patients safe during the pandemic. “Pregnant women, newborns, and children due for vaccinations still require care during the pandemic. Given the need to reduce the number of visits…the timing and frequency of visits can be adjusted,” the physician in St. Michael’s Family Health Team (FHT) and Chair of Family Pr...

Mental health services go virtual at SickKids and SickKids CCMH during COVID-19 pandemic

SickKids CCMH staffers Rebecca Hsiang (on screen) and Joanne Wilson demonstrating a videoconference therapy session By Jane Kitchen The mental health teams at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (CCMH) in Toronto have had a rapid advance into virtual care in response to COVID-19. SickKids TeleLink Mental Health Program, SickKids CCMH and SickKids are part of the SickKids mental health enterprise dedicated to the care and treatment of children and youth with mental health disorders. “Building on the TeleLink program’s extensive experience of delivering video-based mental health services for the past two decades, virtual care is now part of the strategic plan and includes SickKids and SickKids CCMH,” says Christina Bartha, Executive Direc...

Unprecedented collaboration: Will the way we work together be forever changed for the better?

The critical care ventilator (left) and the portable version. It’s easy to look back at the days before COVID-19 with a sense of nostalgia. They may only have been a few months back, but they are already looking like “the good old days” compared to the health crisis unfolding now. But not everything was easier before the pandemic. If there is a silver lining in these challenging times, it’s that Canadians are now collaborating in ways that were more difficult — or even unheard of — before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a greater appreciation of the contributions of different stakeholders. One obvious example of enhanced collaboration is the use of digital technologies that enable doctors to safely connect with patients virtually and to monitor them remotely. These technologies have been avail...