08 April 2008

Engineering health systems research

Yesterday's Report on Business had a section on Health Innovations, which included an interesting article on Electronic Health Records (EHR), and a good piece on how "Engineering techniques can be used to eliminate inefficiencies in Canada's health care system." The latter highlights the new University of Toronto Centre for Research in Healthcare Engineering. Michael Carter, CRHE Director, outlines in the article the ad hoc history how the Canadian healthcare system has been configured, and how engineering can be used to solve inefficiencies. As Carter says, "Nobody ever designed the health care system. Nobody ever sat down and said, 'This is how we should deliver care.' It's sort of piecemeal."

This is an important front in health and human services research. It's time to take a systems view of how healthcare can function - the Health Canada Interprofessional Education for Collaborative Patient-Centred Practice envelope is one part of this effort. This requires complex change management, strong leadership (political and institutional), and a commitment to patient care within a collective effort at change in health systems and human services, health promotion, patient empowerment, and health systems utilization. GBC Health Sciences have a strong base of faculty interested in research in the health and human services fields, including working proactively to anticipate change in the healthcare environment of the future, particularly as this involves the increasing use of health information technologies. Some of these issues were raised at the CONII Health Sciences Node Symposium. We have an opportunity to participate in health systems change. Our applied research facilities and capabilities are complementary to work being done at the CRHE.

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