Science & Tech

The winner and her cheque
The winning team won $3,500. Photo: Faculty of family medicine/Provided
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Clinic of the future competition announces 2021 winners

On Oct. 18, the faculty of family medicine hosted their first clinic of the future competition, where three teams presented their ideas to improve the current healthcare system. An earlier article by the Fulcrum explored competition details and the event’s structure. 

“The goal of the contest is to have innovative ideas for enhancing the delivery of healthcare, you know, we’re looking for individuals or teams, you know, to really present the ideas, and it really comes down to a model of healthcare that will redefine our current experience with healthcare systems,” said Chad Chartrand, the department of family medicine’s communications manager. 

The winning team consisted of four members: Amanda Larocque, Elisa Hoare, Jessica Murray, and Maddie Venables. Larocque is the director of health and social services at the Gesgapegiag health and community services in Quebec. Hoare is currently working at Montreal’s Jewish hospital. Murray is a registered cardiology technologist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Venables is a senior research associate and academic research advisor at the department of family medicine. 

In an interview with Fulcrum, Maddie Venables discussed her team’s winning app idea. 

“We really wanted to address a grassroots problem and from our experience, interacting with physicians and residents in primary care, it came to our attention that the unattached patient is really a big issue in our community.”

According to Venables, an unattached patient is someone who does not have a primary care provider, meaning they seek out care through emergency centres and walk-in clinics. This method is not very efficient, and can place unnecessary pressure on the healthcare system. 

To address this issue the team developed “the continuity health attachment technology (CHAT) app, which is kind of like a matchmaking process. The goal is to link primary care providers, or their teams who have spots available in their practice, to community members who do not have access to a regular primary care provider.”

The app onboarding process would consist of an initial questionnaire regarding the patient’s health needs and preferences (language, specialty services, etc). This information would then generate a score card, which would be presented to the patients through the app. Ideally, patients would then be presented with time slots and be matched with family physicians based on their needs. 

Currently, a centralized waiting list and matching systems do already exist, “so what we’re trying to do is try to use all of the best elements of all of these programs and put it in the app. If we can apply it or implement it nationwide, then folks moving from province to province wouldn’t have those issues like, how do I transfer my healthcare information.”

One of the challenges the team is currently facing is finding willing family physicians to take on extra patients. One way to combat this as described by Venables was “a buy-in, so we’re going to have to leverage existing interior health teams, existing partnerships, etc.”

In terms of the next steps, Venables and the team are working with firms and other partners to get the app started. In the winter term, the team would like to recruit some software development students through co-op to begin writing the actual code for the app.