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Puslinch doctor wins $10,000 for top entry in national health care challenge

PUSLINCH - A local doctor has managed to take the national stage with an idea to use the internet to improve the public’s health.

One might tempted to call it just another computer application, but in this case, it is something more.

Dr. Chris Clarke had the idea that has caught the attention of an expert panel of judges who selected it as the winning entry in the ImagineNation Ideas Challenge, by Canada Health Infoway, the national organization spending federal dollars in information and communication technologies for health.

His idea is a web-based system to record and schedule immunizations, based on the latest recommendations from the Canadian Immunization Guide.

“I imagined a website where each patient would open an account to contain their comprehensive immunization history,” said Clarke.

“More importantly, the website would continuously update a personalized plan for each patient’s future immunizations, using the latest Canadian guidelines and including any new vaccines.”

The idea started as a result of Clarke’s own experiences in his practice and working with the seniors’ population, influenza and H1N1.

He said the idea was part of a larger project on which he was working.

Clarke himself has experienced the time it takes to check and bring up to date immunization records.

He believed the current record keeping system can be confusing and there are many people who do not have a family doctor to manage those vaccinations.

“This is an area of medicine  that could use this type of tool,” he explained.

“Modern IT is ideal for communicating this sort of complex information to both patients and clinicians.”

He said helping parents stay on top of a child’s immunization records, as well as their own, can eliminate much of the frustration and confusion.

The program would automatically generate emails to parents and patients about when vaccinations are needed, as well as allow them to view their immunization records.

Clarke believes the approach would improve the accuracy and rate of vaccinations. He said when so many vaccinations are needed for children, parents can easily miss one or more.

But it is equally important for adults where immunization booster shots are needed infrequently, such as for tetanus.

“Canadians are passionate about our health system, and we wanted their ideas on how digital solutions could strengthen health care,” said Richard Alvarez, President and chief executive officer of Infoway.

“The calibre of entries we received surpassed our high expectations and the range of ideas on leveraging [technology] to improve access, safety and efficiency of care is inspiring.”

When the ImagineNation Ideas Challenge was launched in March, Canadians were asked to submit their ideas online. An independent panel of judges selected the top five bold and innovative ideas through two rounds of judging.

In addition to Clarke’s winning entry, the following submissions round off the top five winning ideas:

- Mom2B, a mobile telephone application for expectant mothers, based on health guidance from Canadian experts. It would offer help at every stage, from fertility planning to tracking contractions.

- Empower persons with diabetes interactively with enhanced reporting on iPads, including tracking their health condition, viewing information from their health team and lab results, and receiving personalized advice to reduce the risk of complications.

- Head Home, Speak Up:  Empower patients and health care providers with an online voice at discharge to improve the hand-off between hospital and home.

- Connected health care…The whole life EHR to track key health information for individuals with chronic conditions, such as vital signs or medications dispensed, and make it available to them and their health team.

Jennifer Zelmer, senior vice-president of Clinical Adoption and Innovation at Infoway, said “The ImagineNation Ideas Challenge identified some great ideas and helped to get Canadians thinking and talking about health care in the digital age.”

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government, which jointly spends with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of information and communications technology projects in Canada.


July 15, 2011


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