Southwest York Region facility pioneers new era of technology adoption in healthcare

July 6, 2015

Leveraging the Internet of Healthcare Things to improve delivery of care in Ontario

By Ariel Visconti

The launch of Phase Two of Mackenzie Health's Innovation Unit was celebrated at an event held on June 24, 2015.

Healthcare innovation in Ontario recently reached a major milestone with the launch of the second phase of a new hospital unit devoted fully to integrating disruptive technologies into Ontario’s healthcare system.

The Innovation Unit is the first project of Mackenzie Health’s Innovation Institute and a first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada. It serves as a ‘living laboratory’ where innovative technologies and practices can be developed, implemented,  evaluated and adopted by other Mackenzie Health units and more broadly at  the system level. Phase One of the project implemented ‘smart’ beds, ‘smart’ badges and communications stations, enhanced hand hygiene support, and dome light indicators in the Innovation Unit.

During Phase Two, the aim was to create a smart, secure mobile clinical messaging and alert system for doctors and nurses. Mackenzie Health designed and implemented the system in collaboration with technology partners BlackBerry, Cisco Canada and ThoughtWire.

With the launch of Phase Two, staff will now be equipped with BlackBerry smartphones connected to the secure system that will allow them to receive aggregated information on-the-go. This means faster, more informed decision-making, increased time with patients and higher quality of care, without risking patients’ privacy. Results from the implementation of this phase will be used to inform planning for the construction of Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital, as well as Ontario’s overall healthcare system.

"Ontario Centres of Excellence is excited to partner with Mackenzie Health through the AdvancingHealth program to support innovations that are increasing the quality of patient care and creating a more efficient and sustainable system,” says Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). “By matching healthcare needs with innovative products and services through partnerships between public healthcare organizations, companies and academic institutions, we can help ease some of the mounting pressure the system faces."

The launch was celebrated at an event held at Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill, attended by Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of OCE; Altaf Stationwala, President and CEO of Mackenzie Health; The Honourable Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and MPP of Richmond Hill; John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry; Mike Monteith, CEO and co-founder of ThoughtWire; and Bernadette Wightman, President of Cisco Canada (pictured above).

Minister Moridi hailed the Mackenzie Health Innovation Unit as a shining example of the collaborative spirit that makes Ontario unique and competitive on the world stage.

“As a province, we want to be sure that 10 years from now, we are still achieving what we once could only have imagined,” Minister Moridi remarked during his address. “So we will continue to bring discoveries to our hospitals and clinics faster and leverage our research capabilities to accelerate the adoption of Ontario-made new technologies in our healthcare system and further support the growth and competitiveness of Ontario’s health technology sector.”

The launch event also featured a keynote discussion between Altaf Stationwala and John Chen, moderated by freelance journalist Simon Hally. The two leaders discussed the project as well as the broader opportunity for technology innovation and the Internet of Things to decrease duplication and delay in the healthcare system, achieving the significant goal of reducing costs and improving outcomes.

The Phase Two project was supported by $350,000 from the AdvancingHealth program, managed by OCE. AdvancingHealth aims to bolster healthcare innovation through investments in collaborative demonstration projects that show clear potential for scaling-up to the system-level and establish a strong case for adoption.

Mackenzie Health’s Innovation Unit was one of five projects funded during the first call for proposals for AdvancingHealth. The second call is currently underway and projects will be announced in October 2015.