While many health care professionals are expert at what they do, most are not experts at imagining and creating digital tools. And they are certainly not experts at how consumers of health care services interact with the digital world.
That’s why Signals and many other private companies were invited to the “BC and Yukon Forum: Fostering Collaborations in Digital Health Research” on February 5, 2015. We were asked to join interested health researchers and health professionals to create some synergies between our respective areas of expertise. For Signals, this was of interest because in the past few years we have developed expertise in creating online tools for professionals (related decision support and guidelines) as well as tools for patients in the form of health and information support leading to behaviour change.
The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), our national funding body for health research, chose two hot button topics — “youth mental health” and “aging well in the home” to bring these groups of experts together. They intend to provide funding to the health / research body that will be matched by the private sector in order to drive forward these eHealth collaborations.
It was a full day of panel discussions as well as interactive tables full of digital folks and health folks debating the issues of everything from information gaps to patient and family decision-making to society and self-stigma of mental illness.
Three of us from Signals attended and did our best to listen to the needs of the researchers and health providers. Many companies came to the session with a product already developed, as was the intention of the CIHR in issuing this Catalyst Grant.
So, after a full day of discussions with about 100 really smart people in the room, everyone had different a-ha moments. Here are some of ours. What does this “thing” (app, website, tool) need to do?
Stay tuned for more on this emerging Signals project. Many thanks to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for organizing such a stimulating day of discussions.