Apps for Health 2013 at Mohawk College

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I had heard good things about this one-day conference, so I decided to take the drive down to Hamilton, ON to check it out. I am glad I did.

Apps for Health has 3 tracks. One focused on Technology, one on Health, and another on Education. They also had keynote speakers to open and close the day of sessions.

To be honest, I was fearing that the recurring trend was going to go something like this: “Healthcare is broken! I love the App Store! Why can’t we get more apps faster!?!” …but the speakers were polished and came with insight and data.

Topics ranged from the needs for a “prescription” for a set of apps for different patient conditions, different levels of safety and risk that apps represent (for physicians and patients), regulatory challenges, privacy, security, and development approaches.

A collection of small and not-so-small vendors had table top displays set up, and attendees (and students) seemed to be routinely interacting with the vendor staff.

Having never been to Mohawk college before, I have to admit that I was quite impressed with the facilities. The buildings are very modern. Everywhere you look, you see technology—on the walls, in the classrooms, in the library, in the hands of the students …everywhere.

One of the more enjoyable parts of my excursion to The Hammer (nickname for Hamilton), was a tour of the Mohawk MEDIC lab. The students demonstrated a complete workflow of a patient’s journey through a referral from her family doctor, to an exam with a specialist (an allergist), and an unfortunate skiing accident in a remote area.

They showed how an EMR—in this case, the open source OSCAR EMR—could accept the referral and share it with the specialist by using an IHE XDS infrastructure. They then showed how the specialist could perform the exam and share the results back to the EMR using the same methods. They also showed the use of mobile technology by EMT and ER staff to review the patient’s records before administering treatment, thus avoiding a potential adverse incident (the allergist report found her allergic to penicillin and other drugs).

Mohawk is serving its students well. They are not only learning about the real world challenges facing healthcare, they are learning about how to build and apply open solutions, and use the latest tools to do it. And they are doing it in a fantastic facility. If you know someone thinking of going there, at least go for the tour—you won’t regret it.

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