Tele-robotics surgery and diabetics network projects in Ontario receive national funding

Hamilton 25 March 2002The Canadian Government will contribute up to $2 million to electronic health projects in the Hamilton area in the Province of Ontario. The funds will support up to $1 million for the Centre for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS), a tele-robotics surgery project led by Hamilton's St. Joseph's Healthcare. In addition, up to $1 million will support COMPETE II, a diabetes case management system led by McMaster University. Funding for these projects originates from Health Canada's Canada Health Infostructure Partnerships Programme (CHIPP).


The Centre for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS) tele-robotics surgery project will increase the availability of minimal invasion surgery to Canadians living in remote areas. The project will purchase and install telecommunications and tele-robotic surgery equipment in Yellowknife. Additional tele-mentoring sites will be established in Chicoutimi, Québec, and North Bay, Ontario. It is anticipated that once the network is established, expansion to additional sites in the future will allow remote access to the most modern surgical techniques.

Thanks to this pilot project, doctors in remote Canadian communities will perform laparoscopic operations with the help of skilled surgeons hundreds of kilometres away. In laparoscopic surgery, a special camera, guided through a small incision, sends an image back to a video screen. The surgeon uses long-handed instruments, inserted through the same incision, to perform the operation. The technique, which results in less post-operative pain and scarring, is becoming increasingly popular for a wide range of procedures, including bowel, back, and head surgeries.

The COMPETE II project, led by the Centre for Evaluation of Medicines, McMaster University, is developing a sophisticated information and communications network aimed at assisting physicians and patients with diabetes to better manage their health. The network, known as COMPETE II, will link family doctors, specialists, nurses, pharmacists, and patients to a Diabetes Tracker.

This technology will permit the secure transmission of electronic health records, drug information, and lab tests, providing up-to-date information to support decision-making and self-care. The project will help determine whether delivering customised disease information through the application of innovative electronic communication technologies can improve the quality of health care services provided to patients.

One hundred physicians in three cities, representing a potential pool of 10.000 Ontario diabetics, will collaborate to pilot the Diabetes Tracker. Once developed, the Diabetes Tracker will store and display a patient's blood glucose levels, blood pressure, medications, and vision test results and feed back advice on ways to improve these results. The Tracker is designed to empower patients to work with their family physicians directly to improve their health. An advanced voice-activated telephone reminder system will alert patients to refill medications and schedule visits with their physician and laboratory.

Patient records must be available in a standard format so that individual information can be linked with best practice knowledge and shared by health care providers. COMPETE II will develop a key enabling technology for this and future projects to allow secure communication of health information from paper records to current electronic formats.

This project is being carried out in collaboration with McGill University's MOXXI project which is developing an integrated delivery system for disease and drug management. Other project partners include St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, Group Health Centre of Sault Ste Marie, Primary Care Informatics group of University of Ottawa, Diabetes Hamilton, Optium Digital Solutions Inc., Killdara Corporation, Tagge Medical Solutions, Brogan Consulting, Siemens Canada, and Smart Systems for Health, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

The CHIPP initiative supports collaboration, innovation, and renewal in health care delivery through the use of information and communication technologies. Investing primarily in telehealth and electronic health records model projects, the programme helps improve accessibility and quality of care for all Canadians, while enhancing the efficiency and long-term vitality of Canada's health system.

More news about additional CHIPP initiatives is available in the following VMW articles:

Leslie Versweyveld

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