Using Technology to Complete the Circle of Care

Author(s) & Credentials: Stephanie Feero, B. Sc, Pharm D. candidate University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy

What inspired you to begin working on this project? Describe the main issue or challenge the project aims to solve.

I was inspired to begin collaborating on this project after regularly witnessing the health of our senior populations begin to deteriorate with age, leading to a loss of independence in their home, and forcing them to rely on family or institutions for care.  As pharmacists, we frequently lack communication and therefore collaboration, with other healthcare providers that is crucial to maximizing the care we provide to our senior patients. Too often, patients are left trying to shoulder the entire burden of their healthcare alone. This, in combination with a lack of a cohesive communication system, leads poor outcomes including a reduction in, or total loss of their independence.

Briefly summarize your project.

We have partnered with a local New Brunswick tech start-up that focused on creating a fully integrated circle of care application that is set up within a senior’s home to vastly improve communication between and across care providers, as well as with the patient. This includes those within the circle of care such as nurses, physicians, pharmacists and personal support workers but also family members, friends or trusted neighbours.

Discuss some of the past, present, and/or intended future real-world applications of this work.

By creating a circle of care that surrounds a senior within their own home, giving them not only access to someone within that circle at any time, but also in-app reminders for things like nutrition, medication and mental health check-ins, we are able to keep seniors in their own familiar environment and bring care and access to their fingertips. This type of access and communication will bridge the gap between not only the patient and their caregiver but also between caregivers to ensure everyone is on the same page, allowing for the best possible care and outcome for the patient.

If applicable, identify any important policy implications this work may have.

The implications this work has on future health policy is that it stands to highlight the importance of inter-professional collaboration. I hope to see changes to our healthcare system that remove barriers between providers to fully integrate the circle of care for all patients. We currently practice in a very fragmented system with only some providers being able to access necessary tools to effectively serve patients. My hope is that this project highlights the need for a more cohesive system here in New Brunswick.