McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

New people-centred, technology-enabled health & wellness system

Published: September 12, 2012
David Price and Gary Goodyear at FedDev announcement
From left: Dr. David Price, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) at today's FedDev announcement

Imagine having all of your health information in one place that you control and that you can access easily through your smart phone or laptop. Imagine being able to share that information with anyone you trust to support you in your health and wellness activities. Imagine having proven health apps to help you monitor, improve and maintain your health, or that link you with a professional health coach for expert advice and support.

Today, it was announced that 16 Ontario private sector, academic and not-for-profit research partners have come together for the Connected Health and Wellness Project (CHWP) that will make what was once only imagined a reality. Through the CHWP, a new people-centred and technology-enabled system will be developed that makes it possible for patients to keep health information from different hospitals or clinics in one place, and lets them decide who they trust to see that information. The system will offer tools to help people better manage their own health and wellness and more easily connect with health and wellness professionals. Collaboration among these professionals will also be enhanced.

The Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced a contribution of up to $15.5 million which, combined with $23.3 million in support by the major partners, will spur health care innovation in southern Ontario as well as job creation in industry, health care and academia. These investments will support the work of major partners York University, NexJ Systems and McMaster University, along with other partners, to develop the Connected Health and Wellness Project.

Benefits of the project will include increased health-care system efficiency, minimizing dependency on the health care system, better health outcomes for people and patients and economic growth through the creation of personalized health-care services.

York University will develop a new training program and professional standards for the emerging Health Coach profession that will combine multiple skill sets in behaviour change for health promotion; disease and injury prevention; treatment and rehabilitation — the leading university in Canada to do so. Working collaboratively with other health care providers and the patient through mobile technology, the Health Coach helps people maintain and improve their health and wellness at each stage of life. A related focus is on wellness programs using the mobile technology and Health Coach in university/college and workplace settings.

NexJ Systems has developed the NexJ Connected Wellness Platform, a cloud-based solution that gives patients access to their personal health record and connects them with their extended care team including physicians, advocates, family and friends. Healthcare providers, governments, and insurance providers will use NexJ Connected Wellness Platform to connect with patients, collaborate with peers, and access information across multiple systems including laboratories, pharmacies, EMRs, and HIEs. Patient-oriented applications such as personal health coaching and disease screening will be accessible through the NexJ Connected Wellness Platform and an application programing interface will allow third-party software developers to extend its functionality through new applications. The people-centred approach advanced by the NexJ Connected Wellness Platform is meeting the global trend to move away from acute care to a primary care and wellness coaching paradigm of health.

McMaster University, renowned for research intensity and innovation, has developed and is the lead organization for OSCAR, an electronic health record, and MyOSCAR, a personal health record managed by the patient. These technologies will be further developed through the project and will be core components of the new people-centred, technology-enabled health and wellness system.

"This is transformative work," said Dr. David Price, chair of the Department of Family Medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University."This project will speed our vision for a more connected health system that will improve health, save money and improve both the patient's and health-care provider's experience."

Other partners in the project include:

Academic: George Brown College, Seneca College and Centennial College

Industry: RIM; Rogers; Tyze Personal Networks; OSCAR Service Providers; PryLynx Corporation and Trivaris

Health-care providers: Southlake Regional Health Centre; North York General Hospital; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation (University Health Network) and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School

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