Thursday, April 3, 2008

Response to: Why RHIOs Aren't Working

I just read Mr Garets' article "Why RHIOs Aren't Working: Views from an American Who Can See White Rock, British Columbia, from His Backyard".

I was fascinated and, I assume, reliably informed of the systemic problems of RHIOs clarified by his analysis. Having a direct participant report is an irreplaceable antidote to information sources distorted by distance and perspective. Thank you for publishing it.

I wonder whether the author selected the title. If so, I think he might have had second thoughts about his views of Canada, when considering the metaphor (looking into a neighbour's yard across the fence) -- the grass always looks greener on the other side. The optical reason for that is that a side view of grass sees only what is sticking up, the greenly displayed part of the grass blades. The owner of the grass looks down at his feet where he stands, deeper down to the roots. All the dead grass and bare patches are painfully seen and felt. Side views are predictably false.

People like Michael Moore and, more moderately, your author might take that more into account when tempted to describe our extremely dysfunctional Canadian system in glowing terms. Apparently, the Americans have not yet figured out how to fix their system. We surely have not settled how to fix ours either. But let's be reasonable on both sides of the fence.

Robert C. Gordon PhD MBA
London Ontario Canada

Monday, March 31, 2008

Collaborative research database set up to serve complementary and alternative medicine

March 31, 2008 - The McGill University Health Centre Research Institute and the University of Calgary in collaboration with Centennial College are launching the first-ever searchable database of outcome measures intended for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) researchers - the IN-CAM Outcomes Database. This innovative initiative promises to improve the quality and the range of CAM research that will lead to more effective treatments in the future.

The project is funded by the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation and the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research (IN-CAM).

IN-CAM co-Directors Dr. Marja Verhoef and Dr. Heather Boon believe that a coordinated, interdisciplinary and collaborative effort is needed to address the many gaps that exist in CAM research, for example, the type of health benefits people are seeking from CAM and how these needs vary depending on a person's beliefs, culture and context. The IN-CAM Outcomes Database recognizes a range of outcome measures which address different health domains.

According to co-investigator Dr. Mark Ware, who is also Director of clinical research at the Pain Clinic of the McGill University Health Centre, this database provides CAM researchers with tools in an interactive forum to improve their research questions and methodology which, hopefully, will foster a community of CAM researchers who can use the IN-CAM Outcomes Database to rate and comment on outcome measures and to propose new measures to be added.

As one of the principal investigators, University of Calgary's Dr. Verhoef will launch the database at the International Conference for Complementary Medicine Research held in Australia from March 28 to 31.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. The institute supports over 600 researchers, nearly 1200 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec. For further details visit:

The Centennial College Applied Research Centre's mission is to enhance continuous learning, foster social transformation and innovation, increase employment and knowledge transfer, and build partnerships. ARC works closely with industry, communities and government stakeholders to support innovation and commercialization.

Dr. Marja J. Verhoef (University of Calgary) was the first President of the Foundation of the International Society of Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR).

For more information please contact: or

Simcoe Muskoka gets upgraded network infrastructure to improve patient care

TORONTO - March 31, 2008 - Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA) today announced that more than 20 of the largest health care organizations in the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) have received increased network bandwidth enabling them to improve health services to residents. The upgrade enhances care by enabling health care providers to transmit electronic digital images of patient x-rays, scans and ultrasounds over a private and secure network.

The enhancements come from Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care responsible for electronically connecting health care professionals to each other and to patient information.

The ability to electronically transmit digital images helps reduce patient wait times for treatment and enables doctors to more quickly collaborate on a diagnosis. With the upgrade, physicians can now also streamline care by integrating their clinical and chronic disease management systems with hospitals and data from Community Care Access Centres.

According to Jean Trimnell, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN's Chief Executive Officer, this will allow the region to dramatically increase the scale, reliability and speed of network-based connections and applications to services local residents.

The increased capacity has broadened the North Simcoe Muskoka region’s use of the Ontario Telemedicine Network and extended video conferencing services, eliminating the need for residents to travel to larger centres for care. Physicians can also utilize the technology to speak with experts across the province on a diagnosis.

This is the first LHIN to complete the upgrade of SSHA’s network to its largest health care partners and hospitals.

Depending on location and connection method, participating organizations are now experiencing bandwidth speeds of up to 200 Mbps, representing an increase of between three to 40 times previous speeds.

Organizations benefiting from the upgrade are:
Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Collingwood · Huronia Medical Centre, Midland · Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, Penetanguishene · Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare - Burk’s Falls & District Health Centre, Burk’s Falls · Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare - Huntsville District Memorial Hospital site, Huntsville · Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare - South Muskoka Memorial Hospital site, Huntsville · Ontario Telemedicine Network - Regional Office, Barrie · North Simcoe Hospital Alliance - Huronia District Hospital, Midland · North Simcoe Hospital Alliance - Penetanguishene General Hospital, Penetanguishene · North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre - Main Office, Barrie · North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre - Bracebridge · North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre - Collingwood · North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre - Midland · North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre - Placement Coordination Service - Huntsville · North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network, Orillia · Orillia Family Health Network, Orillia · Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, Orillia · Royal Victoria Hospital, Barrie · Simcoe - Muskoka District Health Unit - Head Office, Barrie · Simcoe - Muskoka District Health Unit, Huntsville · The Villa Care Centre, Jarlette Health Services, Barrie

The North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, with a total population of 435,000 people, is one of 14 LHINs across Ontario mandated to plan, integrate and fund local health services, including hospitals, community care access centres, community health centres, long-term care homes, mental health and addiction programs and a variety of community support services agencies. The LHINs oversee nearly two-thirds of the $37.9 billion health care budget in Ontario. For further information on the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, visit the LHIN here.

Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA) is an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, responsible for electronically connecting health care professionals to each other and to patient information. SSHA provides a common IT platform that helps health care providers access vital patient and health information they need to deliver better care. For more information, visit