CANet investigators use data from implanted and wearable cardiac devices to deliver more efficient cardiac arrhythmia care for patients across Canada. Currently, the Network is piloting wearable devices that transmit electrocardiogram (ECG) data into VIRTUES which will help doctors and patients track atrial fibrillation episodes, providing patients with personalized health care delivery, empowerment, and ownership to co-manage their health with easily accessible medical information and personalized care plans at their fingertips.
Typically, healthcare data is generated in silos creating additional workload on clinicians to make their decisions and provide care. When data lives in a lot of different places, that can challenge both the privacy and security of your data.
Now imagine all that data sitting in one central repository.
When CANet needed an efficient, flexible, and secure repository solution to support its complex e-health workflows involving researchers, clinicians, and patients, two Canadian companies stepped up to the plate.
“One of the biggest bottlenecks in healthcare data management is time spent creating research tools rather than research studies,” says Duncan Weatherston, Chief Executive Officer of Toronto-based Simpatico Intelligent Systems. “Our biggest impact is easing the complexity of creating flexible and customizable tools for clinicians,” Weatherston says. “You are limited only by your ideas, not by any software.”
“You can use off-the-shelf technology to build DIY software from scratch, but it will take much longer, it will be more expensive, and researchers and clinicians will lose out on doing real work,” claims Craig McLellan, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Etobicoke-based ThinkOn Inc.
Simpatico has provided CANet investigators with a robust cloud-based resource called Smile CDR. CDRs are databases that combine health information from numerous medical sources – such as clinical laboratory test results, pharmacy data, and hospital admission, discharge, and transfer dates – to better understand patients.
“When talking about healthcare data, there is often an implicit assumption that data has some value in itself. In our experience, data is only valuable when used in value-generating workflows. Consequently, VIRTUES focuses on the implementation of clinical care and research workflows,” says Dr. Dimitri Popolov, Research Systems and Data Manager, CANet. “However, these workflows are indeed impossible without a robust data layer. Our partnership with Simpatico and ThinkOn has allowed us to progress extremely quickly because the CDR we are using ensures interoperability as well as compliance with the most stringent privacy and security requirements, allowing us to concentrate on creating value,” emphasizes Popolov.
“Smile CDR, designed around Health Level-7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), is a globally accepted standard of rules on how electronic health records are shared and exchanged across different formats and databases,” Weatherston says.
With the importance of protecting patient information, ThinkOn Inc. has collaborated with Simpatico, providing essential tools and resources, for CANet’s development of critical data management plans.
“Our approach towards privacy, in all forms, embraces the law, ethical principles, and societal considerations,” says CANet’s Privacy Officer, Lori Sutherland, “Control of your personal information is one of the key features CANet aims to deliver on,” she adds.
FHIR, according to both Weatherston and McLellan, fits perfectly with the next generation of health data management. Both companies are leveraging cloud computing and big data analytics, to maximize computations, networking and storage resources for CANet.
“One of the biggest challenges to implementation of healthcare systems is interoperability. The problem of ‘silos’ in healthcare when different systems do not interact with each other is notoriously complex in healthcare,” says Dr. Popolov. “By adopting FHIR in all our activities, we are ahead of the state-of-the-art in the industry offering. We integrate clinical and research data, traditional data with device data. Without FHIR, our development and implementation progress would have been much slower. We achieve greater improved interoperability using CDRs.”
ThinkOn has consistently attained and maintained extensive security certifications in the realm of secure data, privacy, and government clearance with its state-of-the-art and ultra-reliable infrastructure.
“If you increase that level of trust and reliability, then more members of the community can come together to share and collaborate,” McLellan says. “We as Canadians are in a unique position – there is so much to learn, so many opportunities to enable others, and most importantly, give back to the community.”
CANet’s partnerships with both companies – two among several – also helps foster economic growth in Canada.
VIRTUES was designed, developed and implemented with the essential involvement of patients, on-going expertise of healthcare leaders from CANet’s pan-Canadian network of investigators and clinicians, and fundamental support of academic, industry and government partners from provinces and territories across Canada.
Patients with arrhythmia conditions will receive on-demand virtual care using state-of-the-art Canadian-made biosensor driven diagnostics and health informatics, integrated with cutting-edge digital technologies, advanced analytics and wireless connectivity.
VIRTUES delivers the most efficient, effective, and accessible healthcare, on-demand and tailored to the specific needs of each arrhythmia patient.