Guest Post: Pharmacists EMiT care for
With increasingly complex health care problems facing our future, the need for innovation has never been greater. Hacking Health is a global movement active across 5 continents in over 40 cities, with a common goal of connecting health professionals with tech developers, designers and innovators to build realistic solutions for front-line problems.
Mobile technology is changing the face of health care, and patients today are able to access a multitude of information sources and apps to stay informed and engaged in their health. As medication experts, pharmacists are poised to impact patient outcomes on a daily basis, by helping patients and their caregivers understand medications better and make informed decisions about drug therapy.
A few months ago, I heard about the Hacking Health Design Challenge from Sharon Leung, a fellow colleague and clinical pharmacist at St. Paul’s Hospital, and we were excited about the prospect of collaborating across disciplines. We encounter many challenges in our clinical practice with limited resources to craft lasting solutions. The 8-week Design Challenge, in partnership with national sponsors Desjardins Insurance and Gevity, was an excellent opportunity for teams to develop innovative solutions to address health care problems, with the results presented at the annual national e-Health conference.
Our project, Education for Medication in Transplant (EMiT), aims to help organ transplant recipients better manage their health. Based on needs identified by patients, physicians and nurses at the St. Paul’s Kidney Transplant Clinic, our team created a website (www.emitcare.ca) and a mobile app to help transplant patients simplify life by making medication information easy and accessible. Patients are often overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive. Poor understanding of medication information has detrimental effects on adherence and outcomes, including organ rejection and death.
Our solution is based on 3 principles – to help educate patients effectively, medicate appropriately and communicate easily with their health care team. As images help to facilitate understanding, our team’s medical illustrator created a glossary of visuals to highlight key counselling points on the website, which patients can access at home or during a clinic visit. For those more technically inclined, the EMiT app features personalized medication lists and reminders to stay organized, a symptom calendars to track treatment progress and an option to email the symptom log and medication list to health care providers.
EMiT was presented with the Gevity Innovation Award at the e-Health conference and next steps are to partner with BC Transplant to pilot our solution at the transplant clinic. EMiT empowers transplant patients to actively manage their health and we hope to benefit patients provincially and beyond.
My involvement with Hacking Health was incredibly rewarding and provided a unique perspective on how health care professionals can collaborate and benefit from the insight and expertise of innovators from other fields. Driven by a common passion to help patients, small ideas can transform into realistic, patient centred solutions, even with minimal resources. I highly encourage pharmacists from all areas of practice to be health hackers, driving impact through innovation and creativity.
Winnie Ma (bottom row, middle) completed her hospital residency in 2009 and has practiced as a Clinical Pharmacist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Internal Medicine. She recently graduated from the ASHP Pharmacy Leadership Academy and is currently the Pharmacy Clinical Supervisor at St. Paul’s Hospital.