Health Care Innovations Applauded

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A primary health care project led by researchers in the Department of Family Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry has been recognized by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as one of Ontario's best innovations of the year. The Thames Valley Family Practice Research Unit was one of three finalists in the category "Innovations in Health Information Management" at an awards ceremony held May 24th in Toronto.

The team, part of the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, developed a new system to classify patient records. Dr. Moira Stewart, the Centre's Director, says family physicians and allied health care providers across southwestern Ontario recorded reasons for patient encounters, diagnoses and treatments in their electronic health record using an internationally accepted system called the International Classification of Primary Care.

"With this innovation, we have a good tool to show how primary health care in Ontario is improving," says Stewart. "This project is one of the first in to use the standardized system." It will allow researchers to better describe family physician workload, and even make international comparisons. Ontario is now considering the system as a data standard for primary health care providers.

Another team with ties to Western, HealthKick Huron, won in the category "Innovations in Health Human Resources" for an initiative to educate youth about career opportunities in health care, and how to obtain health care credentials and skills. One of its core projects is the summer camp program, MedQUEST, founded by Schulich Medicine's Assistant Dean for Rural-Regional, Dr. Tom Lacroix. It's a summer camp for high school students with Western medical students as counsellors.