Community Health

Funding level: $50,000 to $100,000


The proposal is a “proof of concept” project for supplying real time health care monitoring to patients “at risk” in a small rural community served by the Massawippi Valley Health Centre (CSVM), located in Ayers Cliff, Quebec. After almost three years of operation, it serves 1,700 patients in English and French from throughout the Eastern Townships of Québec and beyond.
The proof of concept project is based on a prototype that operates successfully in a rural area in Uganda (an example of reverse innovation). But our technological base will be different as this area has excellent cell phone and wi-fi coverage already. The project would use existing smart phone and fitness applications to provide:
• A limited following of the condition of about 100 patients at risk
• Real time consultation and ongoing support, using smart phone applications like face time or skype.
• At a later stage, comprehensive data analysis suitable for developing on-going public health monitoring.
The patients selected would already have smart phones so no major technology acquisition would be needed other than the wristband fitness sensor. These currently cover heart rate, sleep, respiration and physical activity and, via the smart phone, GPS location. The Proof of Concept trial will test the value of remote sensing of patients at risk, the optimal levels of overview and organizational arrangements at the clinic. Additionally, we intend to explore additional sensor capabilities to monitor chronic diseases such as diabetes. We also want to adapt or develop a program to receive and manage data coming in from our patients from a public health perspective.
The data collected by commercially available wristbands or other input devices would be monitored at the clinic as well as by the patients themselves. The data collected by the sensors are synchronized with an app on the smart phone via Bluetooth and can be shared with the clinic via Facebook. Based on that monitoring, medical staff at the clinic would have a record of the daily activity of the subjects and various physical data readings. Should an anomaly arise or should the patient wish to report an adverse reaction of some kind, s/he could call the clinic with the phone and speak to the medical staff over a video connection. The “proof of concept” would run for a year and be adjusted for results obtained. If successful, the monitored population would be increased and a new phase explored that includes data collection and analysis for the added benefit of public health indicators.
Rural residents of Canada do not receive the same level of preventive and early stage health care monitoring that is available to urban Canadians who are relatively well served by proximity to comprehensive health services from hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. The fact is that rural residents – which still represent 20% of the Canadian population -- have proportionately fewer physician visits yet more hospitalizations – and despite the positive aspects of a rural community lifestyle, overall worse health outcomes than the general population. In some cases, in our area, the need is desperate. Health care monitoring, health promotion and timely preventive care are important reasons why today’s urban populations live some 20 years or more longer on average than their grandparents. Extending those benefits to their full potential in rural areas and bringing health care up to the same standard as that of urban populations can only be beneficial. Few if any clinics in this area have these objectives as priorities. It is our belief that successful implementation of solutions based on intelligent communication technology can have a transformative impact on rural health in Québec and Canada.
The community will be more resilient, citizens will be empowered with greater knowledge and capacity to self-manage chronic health issues, the long-term well-being of the community will be improved.

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Fondation de la vallée Massawippi/Massawippi Valley Foundation

Location: Ayer's Cliff