Health Technology Innovation

Guest Blog: Director, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships – Elliot Fung

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Go North Canada, The Innovation City, The Start-Up City; these are all monikers that are being used more and more to define a thriving local innovation and technology culture right here in our own community.

We boast world-class universities and colleges that are all developing ground breaking research that is helping to re-shape health and bio-medical fields. We have first-rate front-line care providers who deliver exceptional care to patients every day, and entrepreneurs and innovators who have earned reputations for creating cutting edge technologies and ideas.

But, how do we capture the work from multiple industries to harness ideas, passion, valuable perspectives and solutions and get them working for our patients?

That question became a mission, and then a passion that saw the launch of the WWLHIN’s first ever Health Collision Day, in partnership with Communitech. More than 40 health care providers and researchers joined over 20 local health technology companies to “collide” with the intent to improve patient experiences and health outcomes through innovative solutions and new technologies.

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Elliot Fung with Ben Fluter and Andrew Ringer from Alaunus, a Waterloo based start-up

High tech start-ups pitched ideas and solutions to health care leaders from all sectors; hospitals, primary care providers, home care, long-term care and community health partners.

We heard from companies that have designed equipment that will improve patient care and outcomes. Others have developed tech solutions and algorithms that help with care provision, improve wait time management and provide remote care to patients who don’t live close to the care they need, or have trouble getting there. These were all companies started and growing right here in our LHIN, and we know there are many, many more.

The health system is eager to partner with our thriving local innovation and technology culture to broker relationships and partnerships, break down barriers to innovation, and together solve challenges that impact the experiences of our patients, our residents. To truly change our health care system, here and provincially, we have to find new ways of doing things, build non-traditional partnerships, and make our exceptional health and technology industries collide to help to build on improvements that have already been realized.

Health Innovation isn’t just cool and trendy, it is absolutely imperative.

We live in one of the most innovative communities, not only in Canada but the world. Together, we have an incredible opportunity to build the solutions that will address community problems, create a sustainable, patient-centred health system and empower patients and families like never before.

Elliot Fung
@elliotgfung

A Thank You to Family Doctors

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In my last blog, I shared my experience as a patient in our local health system. When I realized I needed medical care, the first place I turned to for help was my family doctor.

My family doctor was the one who connected me with the right care and walked alongside me during my journey. Having someone who knows me, who knows my family, and who always had my best interests first was critical to my health and recovery.

I can’t thank my doctor and his team enough and I know many, many, many others feel the same way. This week is Family Doctor Week – an annual opportunity to thank these heroes who work tirelessly to care for us from pre-birth to end-of-life.

Over the past few months, my colleagues and I have been fortunate to spend time shadowing a number of family doctors and their teams to see first-hand the work they do. Doctors like Anil Maheshwari at Grandview Medical Centre,the team at Langs Community Health Centre, and more. I am always looking for opportunities to shadow more primary care practitioners on the front-line so please invite us. You can reach us on twitter at @WW_LHIN and me personally on Twitter @brucelauckner or by email bruce.lauckner@lhins.on.ca

While this is a week to celebrate doctors, we know just as important are the nurses, nurse practitioners, and other members of the inter-professional health team who work alongside them. We also know that not everyone has access to this type of team-based primary care – we are working on ways to build equitable comprehensive primary care for all residents and we need the help of primary care and the rest of the health system to make this happen.

On behalf of the almost 800,000 residents in Waterloo Wellington – thank you to our local doctors. With you – our vision of better health for our residents is made possible.

Share your thanks on Twitter by using #lovemyfamilydoc.

Improving the Patient Experience: A Patient Perspective

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Working in health care there’s a funny phenomenon that occurs – we are so focused on helping others and improving care that we tend to compartmentalize people into targetable streams. We have one strategy for patients. One for caregivers. One for people working in health care. We often forget that they are all the same people. We are all patients.

This was never truer than earlier this year when I found myself in my doctor’s office after others found me slurring my words and not making sense. I have spent many years working to improve the patient experience without giving much thought to myself as a patient. Of course when I was caring for a loved one or listening to the stories of others, I was always struck by the need to do better to improve their experience. However, I think it speaks to the nature of those who work in health that we never say we are going to improve the experience for ourselves – even though we are also users of the health care system.

Sitting in my doctor’s office, I was vulnerable in a way I had never been before. I didn’t know what was wrong – only that I needed help. I felt fortunate to have great access to primary care – and I thought about how we need to continue to work hard to make sure everyone has this kind of access to their doctor or nurse practitioner.

On my way to the hospital, I was scared – much like I’m sure everyone is when they don’t know what’s wrong but the look on the doctor and nurse’s face the says it’s serious. Even though I took great comfort in knowing that the quality of care in our local hospitals is second to none – nothing eases the stress of the unknown. Nothing that is, except the incredible people working in our local health care system.

From triage to testing to admission I was overwhelmed with their confident compassion. “Don’t worry, we’re going to take care of you.” The simplest words meant so much to me and to my family at a very difficult time. The health care I received was of the highest quality but it was the way I was cared for that made the experience so much more. As I moved into rehab, all I could think was that the wonderful staff in hospital, primary care and rehab go above and beyond – Every. Single. Day. Regardless of what might be going on in their lives that day – stresses at home, a sick child or parent – patients were the highest priority in the moment.

My recovery was slow but steady and I am incredibly grateful for all the support I received across our health system. I am also grateful that I received care within an area of our health system where great focus has been placed on improving the patient experience through best practice and integration. I know that this is not the experience of everyone – but I also know we have what it takes to change that.

I am glad to be back and excited to share my experience as a patient as a means of continuing our work to improve the patient experience for all residents in Waterloo Wellington. Former hospital CEO Bonnie Adamson spoke recently at the National Forum on Patient Experience about how her perspective changed when she retired from her role to become a full-time caregiver. She said she wished she could go back and re-do her time as a CEO all over again. She said she thought she “got it” but she really didn’t until she had journeyed through the health system with a loved one.

I have the great fortune of utilizing this perspective now as we lead a high-quality, integrated health system for local residents – in partnership with all of the incredible heroes working in our health system. Collectively, we have one role – to improve the patient experience. From pre-birth to palliative care and everything in between. It’s an important one – for patients, for caregivers, for health professionals, for everyone. We are all patients, after all.

Bruce
@brucelauckner

 

Job Shadow – Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program

Guest Blog: Chief Strategy Officer  – Toni Lemon 

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One of the most inspiring opportunities we have at the LHIN is getting out and seeing the benefits of the work underway to improve local health care through the eyes of the patient. It is really a privilege to meet with front-line staff to see first-hand what they do and to be able to personally share in the experiences of residents.

This summer, I joined Antonella, a speech language pathologist (SLP), and Jenny, a communications disorders assistant (CDA), at one of the Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program sessions. Aphasia is a disorder that affects language and communication. It is caused by damage to the brain, most usually from stroke. Some people with aphasia have difficulty with speaking, listening, hearing and/or writing. The group offers a place where residents with aphasia can develop their communication skills with the help of people like Antonella and Jenny.

Patient Centred Care from Providers and Residents

I was immediately struck by the feeling of camaraderie and support in the room. The participants and staff have created a safe space to talk about struggles, practice new skills, and support one another. When a member struggled in telling their story, they were met with patience and sometimes encouraged with strategies to help. Successes and milestones were celebrated and everyone had patience, empathy and an eagerness to learn from one another.

Stroke care in Waterloo Wellington has been changing through integration and collaboration. Providers across the system are working together to ensure that all residents are able to access high-quality stroke care and rehabilitation – no matter where they had their stroke. Patients are going home healthier and with better ability sooner. This work is why Waterloo Wellington was identified by the Ontario Stroke Network as a provincial leader in stroke care.

The Aphasia Program in particular supports people after they leave the hospital. Communication is so vital to the human experience and life participation. Programs like these can bring back quality of life and limit isolation.

Thank you to Antonella and Jenny from the Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program for sharing your passion and work with me. Thank you also to the group members for sharing your experiences, challenges and resilience with me. You are an inspiration.

Toni

For more information on the Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program click here.

 

Story Circle and Job Shadow – Langs Community Health Centre, Cambridge

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This week is Community Health and Wellbeing Week – as an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of local residents it’s an important one for us to celebrate along with our four Waterloo-Wellington Community Health Centres

As part of this week’s celebration, I had the opportunity to visit Langs Community Health Centre in Cambridge to participate in a story circle.

We sat there somewhat nervously – a group of patients, board members and a colleague of mine. We were asked to share what Langs meant to us. To actively listen and connect with one another through our stories. Some came with notes, some more comfortable sharing than others. The circle was expertly facilitated by a Langs Board Member who has a gift for storytelling and putting others at ease.

Once we started, the feeling in the room shifted and we became like old friends reminiscing, rather than strangers meeting for the first time. I was struck by the bravery and authenticity of the participants and even more struck by their stories. We had all come from different places, had all faced different challenges, and yet all shared connections with the heroes in local health care and how they had impacted our lives.

This is the power of storytelling. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do – we are all patients and we all have a story. My goal as the CEO of the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network is to make more of our health stories positive ones. It’s a goal that is shared by many of the health professionals working in our community and was clearly demonstrated by the staff at Langs during my visit.

Following the story circle, one of the participants invited me to join him for his doctor’s appointment. There, I witnessed first-hand the positive difference that comprehensive primary care makes. The doctor took the time to discuss not only his patient’s medical concerns, but the other factors in his life that influence health (things like income and social supports). This is so important to improving overall health and for this patient, this holistic approach has rebuilt his trust in health care.

Thank you to Langs for inviting me to participate – it’s a real reminder of why I do what I do – and thank you for everything you do to improve the health and well-being of our local community.

@brucelauckner

Job Shadow – Grandview Medical Centre, Cambridge

Guest Blog: Chief Strategy Officer and Interim CEO – Toni Lemon

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Getting out and watching front line health care in action is an important way that we connect with patients and providers across Waterloo Wellington. Earlier this week, I was privileged to join the staff at the Grandview Medical Centre Family Health Team in Cambridge and share in their experience providing care. Grandview is a multi-disciplinary team of 16 family physicians, over 20 nurses, nurse clinicians, registered dieticians, pharmacists, social workers, support staff, health promoters, as well as a mental health team. Onsite services at Grandview include chiropody, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy, a vascular clinic, memory clinic and much more. Primary care is critically important in shaping the health of people in our communities. Timely access to care, support and education to manage illnesses and chronic diseases and connections to specialists when needed are some of the ways that our primary care providers work to provide patient-centered care.

I joined Dr. Anil Maheshwari for a couple of his afternoon patient visits. One patient who required a diagnostic x-ray was able to pop downstairs to quickly have this done. Instead of writing a requisition for his patient to take with her to make an appointment for the test on another day, she was simply sent to the x-ray clinic located in the same building. This allowed Dr. Maheshwari to receive the results electronically almost instantly and he and his patient could determine a course of action, right there during the same appointment. I also heard from patients and physicians about the value of the electronic communication that has been used at Grandview. Use of a web portal, and email allows for faster communication, less anxiety and better patient and provider experience for many.

Later in the afternoon, I spent some time with Grandview’s on-site diabetes education group. This is a group of patients that meet with their physician, a nurse and each other a few times each year to discuss their test results, learn new information, share care tips and support with each other. Participants choose the topics or issues that are important to them for upcoming sessions and staff prepare with education, resources and tips. Patients said the group helps them feel like they are not alone and isolated in managing their diabetes and it allows staff to provide quality care to more patients, faster.

This is patient-centered care.

The team at Grandview Medical Family Health Team have developed partnerships and services that gather the services that patients need most in one location, with easy access. We know that not all patients and primary care providers have been able to develop this. Enhancing equity across Waterloo Wellington and learning from the experience of patients, physicians, allied professionals and staff at places like Grandview is an important part of continuing to build high quality, accessible care for all residents in Waterloo Wellington.

Thank you to all of the staff and patients at Grandview for sharing your time with me. It was a fantastic visit.

 

 

Celebrating Nurses Week

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Guest Blog: Chief Strategy Officer and Interim CEO – Toni Lemon

We love celebrating the work of health care staff on the front-lines – those that provide direct support and care to the residents in our communities – and Nurses’ Week is a great opportunity to do that. This year, we decided to celebrate Nurses Week in a bit of a different, hands on type of way.

I was privileged to shadow Marie, one of the nurse practitioners at the Waterloo Region Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (WRNPLC), Kitchener location. Staff at the clinic were proud to provide a tour of the bright spacious treatment areas, highlighting the interdisciplinary health professionals that clinic patients are able to access including a dietitian, social worker and other supports.

Patient centred care that is truly patient centred

I joined Nurse Practitioner Marie as she completed a patient intake assessment with a new patient. I was particularly impressed by the way Marie took time to truly connect with the new patient to gain a detailed understanding of his health needs, lifestyle, how his occupation as a fireman could impact his health – even the needs of his family.

When we look at the vital role that primary care plays in helping residents maintain health and well-being and prevent illness, it is clear that it is not only the provision of care but the quality of the relationship that exists between provider and patient that has great impact.

I also spent some time with the other staff at the clinic and they shared how their care model is providing better and more comprehensive care for patients. They often use technology like videoconferencing, to connect patients with additional care and education and their social worker links patients with other supportive services such as the food bank and financial supports.

Over the next year, some of the work we will be doing will help to ensure that Waterloo Wellington residents are able to access primary care when they need it, and that all primary care providers have the community, health and social services partners that they need to support their patients. The Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic is a shining example of how collaboration with other providers helps to improve their patients’ overall health and well-being.

Thank you to the staff and patients of the WRNPLC for their candidness and patience, for taking the time to show us their world and how they support the health and wellness of our residents every day. Thank you to all of the nurses who make a difference in the lives of residents, every day; happy Nurses Week.

Toni