Celebrating the Phase Two Projects of the Breakthrough Challenge

The WCH Healthcare Breakthrough Challenge, in partnership with Women’s College Hospital Foundation, aims to fund new and innovative endeavors in clinical care, research, quality improvement and education that align with the organization’s strategic goals.

On November 29, three WCH teams will be participating in a competition, where they will have the opportunity to pitch their unique ideas for a chance to secure funding of up to $100,000. Learn more about the final three projects below:  

Empowering Marginalized Communities: A Co-Designed Mobile Healthcare Initiative
Project Lead: Jessica Bawden, NP
Department: Primary Care

Jessica Bawden smiling

This project aims to improve access to health services through primary care mobile outreach to those at risk for, and affected by, human trafficking and exploitation. The project will design mobile and low-barrier events that provide care to communities when they need it, where they need it.

A team of healthcare experts from diverse departments including Family Practice, The Bay Centre for Birth Control (BCBC), Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre, Toronto Academic Pain Management Institute, and the Centre for Wise Practices Indigenous Health, will collaborate to provide a range of services. These services include cancer screening, sexual health counseling and testing, contraception, abortion care and facilitating access to specialized women’s health services.

The project leaders will collaborate with organizations to learn from their experiences in serving equity-deserving communities. This initiative will strengthen existing community relationships and forge new ones to provide a mobile healthcare service that’s equitable and inclusive.

The long-term goal is to create a globally funded mobile healthcare team at WCH that can respond to the needs of different disciplines. Going mobile will help improve the quality, safety, and access to health services by taking them directly to the people who need it.

Transforming Healthcare through Trauma-Informed Care Education 
Project Lead: Dr. Dana Ross
Department: Psychology

Dr. Dana Ross looking at camera and smiling.

People who have experienced trauma, such as child abuse, neglect, domestic violence and intergenerational and systemic trauma are at increased risk of mental health issues and physical illnesses. This is especially true for people in marginalized communities. And while 62 per cent of people in Canada have experienced trauma in their lifetime, healthcare providers often lack the skills to recognize the impact of trauma on a patient’s physical and emotional health.

This oversight results in substantial costs to patients, healthcare workers and the entire healthcare system.  Healthcare professionals can play a crucial role in identifying and addressing the impact of trauma. This project aims to give healthcare workers the knowledge and skills they need to do this effectively.

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) provides an understanding, compassionate, collaborative, and patient-focused approach to healthcare that doesn’t require specialized skills or extensive training. TIC doesn’t directly treat trauma, but it recognizes how trauma affects people and works to avoid re-traumatizing patients and staff.

Studies show that that using TIC improves patient outcomes and reduces burnout among healthcare workers by proactively reducing negative experiences, yet TIC has not traditionally been used in curricula for healthcare providers.

This project will develop, deliver and evaluate an online course that covers universal skills and principles for delivering TIC. The course will be tailored to healthcare workers engaged in both direct and indirect patient care and can be used in different roles and departments. The aim is to improve patient health and the wellbeing of healthcare workers. Ultimately, creating a more equitable and effective healthcare system.

My Lung Health Coach: A Virtual COPD Self-Management Support Program Integrated into the Electronic Patient Record
Project Leads: Dr. Andrew Kouri and Chandra Farrer
Department: Respirology, Quality Safety and Patient Experience

When it comes to caring for patients with complex medical conditions, effective communication and coordination is essential to providing the best possible care. This is especially true for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a chronic lung disease that affects one in nine adults in Ontario.

People with COPD often experience shortness of breath, chronic coughing, and difficulty with everyday tasks. COPD can worsen rapidly, leading to emergencies that require visits to the ER or prolonged hospital stays. COPD makes up 25 per cent of all emergency room visits and hospitalizations in Ontario and costs healthcare systems billions each year.

One proven way to help people with COPD lead healthier lives and avoid hospitalizations is to teach them how to manage their condition at home. This initiative partners with the Lung Health Foundation to create “My Lung Health Coach,” a free program that offers self-management and education for COPD. Connecting patients with experienced certified respiratory educators (CRE) who teach them how to better manage their COPD.

This project aims to create a seamless patient care journey by integrating functionality with electronic patient records, allowing patients to track their progress digitally and provide doctors with the information they need to help their patients get the most benefit. If successful, this study will help scale My Lung Health Coach broadly across Ontario, providing a lifeline to COPD patients, helping them manage their condition better and reducing hospital visits. This will improve patients’ lives and potentially save the healthcare system millions of dollars. The program’s goal is to prevent hospitalizations and find innovative healthcare solutions through research and innovative care.

Thank you to all those who entered the Breakthrough Challenge and good luck to those pitching on November 29th!