MONTREAL, June 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Navigating the health care system can be overwhelming. An innovative app improving the patient experience at the MUHC is expanding thanks to a $1 million gift from CIBC to the MUHC Foundation. Created by the Opal Health Informatics Group – a passionate group of patients, clinicians, researchers, and students at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), the Opal app provides patients access to their hospital appointments, laboratory test results, some clinical notes written by their doctors, and educational material about their illness and treatments. The result is a more empowered experience for patients—with their health information at their fingertips, they feel in control of their journey.
“It is deeply satisfying for our healthcare professionals at the McGill University Health Centre to co-create projects with patients that improve the patient experience. Opal is a product of this vital collaboration and I look forward to seeing it evolve.”
— Dr. Pierre Gfeller, President and Executive Director, MUHC
Opal was created when the late Laurie Hendren, a Professor of Computer Science at McGill University and breast cancer patient, teamed up with her radiation oncologist, Dr. Tarek Hijal, and with medical physicist and cancer researcher Dr. John Kildea to empower patients during their care and improve their experience. Currently, Opal is used by cancer patients at the MUHC, as well as by patients with inflammatory bowel disease and HIV, and the parents of children with kidney disease.
“Laurie was the driving force behind the app. She understood how difficult it can be to keep track of dozens of appointments and the need for patients to access their own personal health information while dealing with the stress of a cancer diagnosis.”
— Dr. Tarek Hijal, Chief of Radiation Oncology at the MUHC, Clinical Lead of the Quebec SmartCare Consortium and Opal Co-Creator
With CIBC’s support, Opal will be expanded to enhance patient care and research as the centrepiece of an innovative new project known as the Quebec SmartCare Consortium (quebecsmartcare.com). As the project progresses, participating physicians will be able to monitor their patients between appointments using wearable devices that track vital signs. Remote monitoring will provide physicians a steady stream of data to help them better understand each patient’s condition. It will also provide patients the reassurance that anomalies in their health will be noticed by their health care team and addressed quickly.
“The incredible team at McGill University Health Centre continuously helps improve the functioning of our healthcare systems through the implementation of innovative tools like Opal,” said Rosa Trunzo, Vice President and Region Head, Quebec at CIBC. “On behalf of CIBC, we’re proud to support their ambition to provide exceptional and integrated patient-centric care for those living with cancer, as we collectively work towards a future where no one has to fear a cancer diagnosis.”
Opal is also a powerful tool for research. Patients will be able to share their anonymized data with scientists to enable studies that will ultimately improve patient care.
“Opal not only helps patients feel in control of their health care journey, it creates an immense opportunity to work with patients to collect real-world data to improve our understanding of treatments, monitor and minimize side effects, identify gaps in care, develop new treatment options and much more.”
— Dr. John Kildea, Cancer Researcher at the RI-MUHC, Principal Investigator of the Quebec SmartCare Consortium and Opal Co-Creator
As Opal’s capabilities grow, thanks to the investments of the public and private partners who are participating in the Quebec SmartCare Consortium as well as funding from the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, its creators are expanding the reach of the app within the MUHC and, for the first time, to another Quebec hospital. In the same way that technology has changed so many aspects of our lives, Opal will change how we navigate the healthcare system.
“The MUHC Foundation is grateful to CIBC for its generous gift to support Opal. Receiving a life-changing diagnosis is always difficult, and anything that can help alleviate the stress of treatment makes a huge difference for patients. With CIBC’s help, Opal will become a key resource for patients and physicians across the MUHC”
— Suzanne Legge Orr, Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair, MUHC Foundation
To enable Opal to reach this milestone expansion, the MUHC Foundation is raising another $500,000. Please help us reach this goal: https://muhcf.akaraisin.com/ui/opal
About the McGill University Health Centre Foundation
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation raises funds to support excellence in patient care, research and teaching at the McGill University Health Centre, one of the top university hospitals in Canada. Our Dream Big Campaign to change the course of lives and medicine is raising millions of dollars to solve humanity’s deadliest puzzles: infectious diseases; end cancer as a life-threatening illness; fix broken hearts through innovative cardiac care; detect the silent killers—ovarian and endometrial cancers—early; create the best skilled health care teams in Canada; and much more. We are rallying our entire community to solve the world’s most complex health care challenges. www.muhcfoundation.com
About the RI-MUHC
The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and healthcare research centre. The institute, which is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) – an academic health centre located in Montreal, Canada, that has a mandate to focus on complex care within its community. The RI-MUHC supports over 450 researchers and around 1,200 research trainees devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental, clinical and health outcomes research at the Glen and the Montreal General Hospital sites of the MUHC. Its research facilities offer a dynamic multidisciplinary environment that fosters collaboration and leverages discovery aimed at improving the health of individual patients across their lifespan. The RI-MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS). www.rimuhc.ca
CIBC is a leading North American financial institution with 11 million personal banking, business, public sector and institutional clients. Through corporate donations, community partnerships and the genuinely caring culture of Team CIBC, we are committed to helping people and our communities make their ambitions a reality. Learn more about our community impact. Ongoing news releases and more information about CIBC can be found at https://www.cibc.com/en/about-cibc/media-centre.html.
About the Quebec SmartCare Consortium
The Quebec SmartCare Consortium is an innovative three-year project led by the Opal Health Informatics Group at the RI-MUHC that is bringing together a group of key public and private healthcare organizations in Quebec that are working on digital health solutions. It aims to demonstrate the power of SmartCare, which it defines as the use of patient-centered data and mobile health technologies to drive remote monitoring and artificial intelligence research in healthcare. The consortium is made possible thanks to generous funding from the Health Collaborations Accelerator Fund of the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation and private partners Roche, Novartis, the McGill University Health Centre Foundation and the Cedars Cancer Foundation. Quebec companies VitalTracer, iMD Research, My Intelligent Machines and Imagia are contributing their technologies and expertise, in collaboration with MUHC patients and partners at McGill University, CHU Ste-Justine, Université de Montreal, Phyla Inc. and Mila. www.quebecsmartcare.com
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