> Technology in Public Health Practice: Grey Bruce Health Unit
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Technology in Public Health Practice: Grey Bruce Health Unit

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The Canadian province of Ontario’s public health-care system has been embracing IoT and technology to provide better efficiency and quality of care to patients. In a recent video posted by the Grey Bruce Health Unit they discuss some of the advantages and use-cases that technology allows them to realize when dealing with school-aged patients and keeping track of immunization records.

In Ontario the government requires consent forms for the government to provide vaccinations to school children. The Ministry of Health keeps track of patient consents electronically allowing front line nurses to quickly retrieve patient information on what vaccines they can or cannot give to a child. In a world where automation is quickly taking over this still presents a need for on-the-ground communication to get a comprehensive picture of what’s going on. “One of the main benefits of enhanced technology is communication. When my staff are in the field and they’re in different areas of Grey Bruce … they can always get in touch with me either by email or their BlackBerry so in case something happens … or in case they need a different medication we can address it”. There is still a need for front line validation of patient data to ensure the appropriate medicine is provided. Not all vaccines are created equal, some patients may have a vaccine that is effective for five years and others may have a vaccine that is effective for three. Keeping track of this information ensures patients are kept up to date and properly immunized.

One of the main benefits of enhanced technology is communication. When my staff are in the field and they’re in different areas of Grey Bruce … they can always get in touch with me either by email or their BlackBerry so in case something happens … or in case they need a different medication we can address it

Besides keeping track of consents and patient information, technology also allows the entire health-care system to react and address medical concerns that arise. The system can quickly pinpoint which children are at risk during disease breakouts like meningitis, hepatitis A or measles by referencing patient record assessments electronically. This is a vast improvement over previous systems that required health-care professionals to dig through boxes of paper records. At a patient level it is extremely important to ensure at-risk students have the option to get immunized or avoid contact with others who may have a potentially harmful disease.

We often like to think of health-care’s footprint as starting and ending at a hospital door but the reality is that there is a vast supply and warehousing component involved. They are comprised of entire networks designed to move medicine and supplies across a region. IoT is helping to automate the link between product orders (in this case, specifically, vaccines) and distribution lines to ensure medicine arrives efficiently and correctly.

As the industry and the associated stake holders embark on embracing IoT and connected devices for a multitude of applications we’re sure to see even deeper integration of health-care services and technology.  Just today the Ontario government announced that in 2015 they plan to establish a new $20 million Health Technology Innovation Evaluation Fund to support made-in-Ontario technologies, streamline the adoption of health care innovations across the health system, and invest in the assessment of emerging innovative health technologies to get those products to market faster.  The entire market is evolving and BlackBerry is in a tremendously good position to take advantage of it.  With the advent of the BlackBerry IOT Platform and the newfound partnership with Nanthealth only time will tell if we’ll start to see some more of that BlackBerry/QNX innovation here on the home front.

To learn more about how Grey Bruce Health Unit uses technology have a look at their webpage.

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Brandon Orr

Author Brandon Orr

Professional Transportation Planner & Blackberry 10 Developer part of the open source BB team.

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  • Thank you ever so for you post.Much thanks again. Cool.

  • Rod Pantony

    This report is very well done.

    Healthcare is a multi trillion service globally. Ontario seems to be introducing cutting edge technologies. Hopefully the rest of Canada will collaborate with Ontario.

    It may be that the global focus on ehealth and telemedicine, should be on front line nurses and intake workers adopting and adapting Ontario’s approach.

    • Brandon Orr

      While in this particular instance Ontario does seem to be quite progressive, the province still falls short in many other areas when it comes to modernizing and implementing technology to improve healthcare service. But this is a good start. The technology discussed in this report is part of a broader national effort as well although implemented at the provincial level.

      I look forward to how Ontario and other jurisdictions across the world begin to embrace technology to provide better care going forward.