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Enhancing patient experience with digital innovation

Jun 26, 2024


Delivering health care is one of the most complex industries on the planet, and like all other sectors, as it evolves, so does the technology and its benefits to patients.

The Ottawa Hospital is embracing cutting-edge technology as we plan our new campus, which will become one of the most modern and technologically advanced health-care facilities in Canada.

“Our goal is to create an intuitive, seamless experience between the community and the hospital,” says Glen Kearns, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer who leads TOH’s Digital Solutions team and oversees all things technology, including infrastructure, software and cybersecurity.

“We’re currently looking at a number of different priorities and exploring many options with the goal of a transformative digital experience for patients, families and staff at the new campus and across TOH,” says Glen. “In a nutshell, improving technology will improve efficiencies and staff workflows and ultimately improve patient experiences.”

Opportunities for innovative technology in health care

There are plenty of opportunities for technology to make a positive impact on patient care and experience.

“We’re striving to build on the digital experiences that people have in other areas of their lives to enhance the health-care services we provide at TOH,” says Glen. “Whether it’s inpatient care, preparing a patient before they even visit the hospital or following up with them at home, technology can offer solutions and more seamless care.”

Glen Kearns, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Ottawa Hospital

TOH is reshaping the future of health care by transforming the model of care; digital solutions and new technologies play a major role, including a more proactive approach to care based on data.

“Right now, when you have a health problem, you go to a doctor or hospital and then we begin care to help get you back to health,” says Glen. “We want to use predictive data, the information that we have about a patient and their health experiences, to forecast their needs in the future. For example, we could use data to identify that a patient could be a candidate for cardiac bypass surgery ten years down the road. Tailoring their care based on data could eliminate the need for interventions like surgery in the future.”

TOH is also exploring the possibility of remote or virtual admissions to better support seamless inpatient and at-home care, with a goal to launch at existing TOH campuses in advance so it’s operationally ready on day one at the new campus.

“I think it’s important that we’re using the new campus as the impetus for TOH to have a better digital experience across all of our campuses,” says Glen.

“We want to leverage technology to reduce admissions, wait times and improve how patients interact with teams at TOH,” says Mathieu LeBreton, Senior Project Manager on the Digital Solutions Team at The Ottawa Hospital. “Ideally, we’ll have technology that enables and enhances workflow; rather than being an additional piece of equipment, our goal is to use technology to reduce workflow burden on staff and improve their day-to-day experience for patients and staff.

Mathieu LeBreton, Senior Project Manager, Capital Program Planning at The Ottawa Hospital

Mathieu adds that technology will be integrated to connect patients with loved ones who are unable to visit the hospital. Single patient rooms will have digital access so patients can stay connected with care providers and access their health information, appointments, TV and other entertainment. Throughout the new campus, technology can also help patients and visitors navigate the hospital.

“One of the options we’re looking at is mapping out the hospital in a way that you can use your phone to find a clinic or other area of the hospital you need,” says Mathieu. “It’s a great example of integrating the patient experience, where the building itself interacts with your phone or smart device in addition to traditional non-interactive displays that we have on the walls.”

Artificial intelligence

One of the most popular topics in the technology world, artificial intelligence (AI) has made great strides in recent years in the area of practical workplace applications. TOH’s Digital Solutions team is planning for the future today by collaborating on and launching trials of function-based tools that harness the power of AI.

Recently announced, Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) Copilot is a Microsoft solution that uses ambient, conversational and generative AI to create draft clinical notes during patient appointments. With patient consent, it securely records physician-patient conversations and creates medical notes for the physician to review and approve. TOH is the first hospital in Canada to trial this innovative solution aimed at reducing physician burnout and time spent on administrative tasks, allowing physicians to spend more time interacting with patients and providing care.

TOH is also exploring the use of an AI avatar as an information resource for staff and patients. We’re currently testing the usefulness of what we’re calling a “digital teammate” at our three campuses.  In this testing phase, the avatar will be available to staff, patients and visitors to answer questions on a specific topic. Right now, the digital teammate is set to answer questions on the new campus.

Want to learn more about technology at our new campus? Learn how we’re designing the operating room of the future.