How can we use technology and social networks to provide patients and their families with support anytime, anywhere?
Christo El Morr specializes in the relatively new study of informatics. He investigates how to use information communication technologies and virtual communities in the health sector to provide better service and improved outcomes for patients – leading to efficiencies in the health system. In particular, he explores ways that technology can connect patients and doctors and help keep patients healthy while away from hospital.
Communication plays a role in friendships, romantic relationships, and the relationships between doctors and patients. Through my work, I strive to find ways to improve and simplify communication so that we better understand one another. While you obviously need to be compassionate and have empathy on a basic level, technology can facilitate improved communication. When that communication is between patients and health care providers, research can have a tangible impact on people’s lives.
I’ve always disliked dealing with machines and computers, but not when they can help people. I love the impact they have on human lives and experiences.
Right now, information about patients is generated when they go to a doctor’s office, a clinic, or the hospital. But we have no health information from their daily lives, outside of the realm of care. Filling this gap will help by providing information to healthcare providers that will be more accurate than memories or assumptions. It will also enable patients to take more responsibility for monitoring their health.
At North York General Hospital, where I’m appointed as a Research Scientist, we are assessing a tool that the hospital uses to predict patients at risk of readmission. Our assessment will provide the hospital with evidence about the tool’s impact and, consequently, assist them to make an informed decision in terms of resource allocation of staff and support for the tool’s use going forward. This will help the hospital in better serving its’ patients upon discharge, which have a major impact on patient care.
My biggest accomplishment is the virtual community we have created with the company forahealthyme.com and St. Michael’s Hospital that allows doctors to telemonitor their patients with Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD) and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) while they’re away from the hospital. The virtual community enables, for example, CKD patients to enter their blood pressure from home, and creates graphs that show change in blood pressure over time for the doctors to see and monitor. This will help the nephrologist do something that isn’t possible today: monitor variations in patients’ health indicators over time while patients are outside the hospital, and make a more informed decision about their patient’s health.
In some hospitals, there is a big gap around research. They have lots of data, but little time or resources to analyze it and identify ways to change and improve. I want to play a role in connecting the university to hospitals. Professors love problems and can solve them, and hospitals have problems that need solving.