ETHP announces recipients of digital health micro-initiative funding to enhance care in East Toronto

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East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, has selected three recipients for its digital health micro-initiative funding, which supports projects by ETHP members that will lead to improvements in digital health access for patients and health care providers in East Toronto.

The funding’s recipients are Health Access Thorncliffe Park (HATP), Magenta Health and Street Haven at the Crossroads, who are proposing micro-initiatives that will improve communication between health care providers and clients in priority communities; enhance patients’ continuity of care by ensuring timely access to medical information; and create a safe, supportive space for women with lived experiences of substance use.

The funding, which totals $15,000, allows ETHP to support tangible improvements in digital health across East Toronto and offers members the opportunity to learn from smaller-scale enhancements in digital health capabilities. The micro-initiatives will take place in tandem with the ETHP Digital Health Steering Committee’s larger digital health goals, which typically involve more significant investments and organizational shifts.

HATP will use the funding provided by ETHP to develop a patient communication platform that will improve the ability of its family doctors, dietitians, occupational therapists and other health service providers to connect with priority clients in Thorncliffe Park.

The platform will allow HATP’s providers to share important information with their patients, including appointment reminders and, for individuals who test positive for COVID-19, language-specific instructions on how to self-isolate and access resources such as grocery delivery services. In addition, the platform will enable HATP to share information about how to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to the public.

Magenta Health will conduct an audit of how protected health information (PHI) is recorded and transmitted in East Toronto. This audit will identify a set of PHI, such as diagnoses, treatment information and medical test results, and examine the ways it is shared and accessed by patients and providers in East Toronto.

This will help determine the root causes of PHI loss or delays, revealing opportunities for improvement and enhancing continuity of care and client and clinician experiences across East Toronto. The project will produce a report to share learnings and recommendations with other East Toronto family practices.

Finally, Street Haven will establish the Virtual Community Conversation Circle, a project that will provide a safe space for recovery for women with lived experiences of substance use and dependency. The initiative involves developing a platform where women who are challenged by or struggling with substance use and dependency may gather virtually for regular conversation circles.

These circles foster an inclusive, supportive community, connecting women experiencing similar challenges to help and one another, and allowing them to engage in a non-judgmental, trauma-informed journey toward sustained recovery and safety. The project includes a focus on knowledge exchange and sharing digital best practices, applicable in similar settings.

These three digital health micro-initiatives will be rolled out in East Toronto between now and the end of March 2021. They were selected to receive funding  by ETHP’s Digital Health Steering Committee from a pool of 15 applications that were submitted by ETHP members from November 23 to December 10.

“We extend our gratitude to all ETHP members who applied for funding,” says Margery Konan, senior project manager at ETHP. “The expressions of interest received gave us a view into the digital health supports that are needed across our member organizations, and will help us in planning for next year’s digital health priority initiatives. As this initiative has been well-received, it will be considered again in future planning.

“The support to these digital health micro-initiatives will lead to improvements for our clients and providers in East Toronto during a time when timely, accessible care — and opportunities to advance health and social services through digital means — have become all the more vital.”