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Doctors aim to improve patient care
Team of medical experts send student to analyze patient wait times

Joseph Tunney
Northern News Services
Friday, August 19, 2016

After winning $30,000 in a challenge to simplify communications between different health-care specialists, Clare Liddy and her team are investing part of that money back into Yellowknife.

NNSL photo/graphic

Terry Moore of Canada Health Infoway, middle, presents Erin Keely, left, and Dr. Clare Liddy an award in the e-Requests for Services category of Canada Health Infoway's ImagineNation e-Connect Impact Challenge. Part of the $30,000 prize from that award is now being reinvested back into Yellowknife. - photo courtesy of Dan Strasbourg

"The intent of that is to do the first look at what wait times are for people in Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories," said Liddy, who is based in Ottawa.

She and her team developed Champlain Base eConsult, a web-based portal designed to simplify relations between primary health providers and specialists.

"It allows the primary health care provider or your family doctor to send an electronic consultation to a specialty service," she said.

In March 2015, her team's project won the ImagineNation Challenge, a contest organized by Canada Health Infoway designed to improve quality of care patients receive.

Now, Liddy said her team is sending a summer student to Yellowknife to conduct studies with the goal of examining what the needs of Yellowknife's patients are regarding receiving care and sending them for face-to-face meetings.

"Once we can establish that," she said, "(We'll) look at implementing a similar eConsult service in the Northwest Territories."

Students are being sent to various regions across Canada but Liddy wanted to get data on the North because it provides its own difficulties.

"We knew if you could bring that sort of concept up into the Northern regions where travel can be very burdensome, maybe ... visits down to the southern communities would not be required," she said.

"We were able to show that you could save $1,000 per patient (in Ontario)."

Of 15,000 people in her region using eConsult, she said only one-third needed to go on to have face-to-face visits.

Liddy said she plans on sending the student to Yellowknife in October and believes they could collect the information needed within a week. According to her, Yellowknifers could expect to see the service implemented by next summer.

"Part of the difficulty is seeing whether the technology is going to work up there," she said.

However, she said some people in Nunavut already use the service.

Fraser Ratchford, from Canada Health Infoway, said the reason it chose to do these challenges is they encourage people to come out of the woodwork and participate. This year they are celebrating their fifth year of doing the challenges.

"We've had other challenge participants that reinvested (their winnings) in different ways," he said. "We've also used our challenges to grow and spread good uses of digital health."

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