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Current research

Featured researchers

Health information scientists Drs. Andre Kushniruk and Elizabeth Borycki head up a team of researchers who are educating our newest doctors and nurses about new technology. Their research has led to the design and implementation of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) Educational Portal, which houses a number of working electronic health record systems that can be remotely accessed by students from anywhere in the world over the web.

The following is a brief account of the research projects currently being carried out by the school's faculty

eHealth Observatory - Francis Lau

The overall aim of the eHealth Observatory led by Dr. Lau is to monitor the effects of health information systems (HIS) deployment in Canada. It is to serve as a laboratory where researchers employing innovative HIS methodologies can evaluate the effects of HIS through the entire system lifecycle from requirements, deployment, use to adaptation, then share this new knowledge to advance the field.

Palliative Care Informatics Research – Francis Lau

Since 2004, Dr. Lau has dedicated a substantial portion of his effort to establishing a program of clinical informatics research within the domain of palliative and end-of-life (EOL) care. His focus has been to work with a small team of researchers and clinicians to examine the use of information tools and analytic methods to enhance EOL practices. He has received a five-year capacity building grant as a co-PI from CIHR under its New Emerging Teams in Palliative and EOL Care competition.

A tangible output from this research to date is the creation of the largest known anonymized Palliative Performance Scale assessment database that can be used to examine survival patterns and dying trajectories of EOL patients in different care settings. Effort is underway to expand this database to include other variables such as symptoms, mental status and nutrition, and datasets from other palliative care programs within/outside Canada.

Information System Research and Evaluation Methods – Francis Lau

In 2006, Dr. Lau worked with Canada Health Infoway to publish an evidence-based conceptual framework for evaluating the quality, use and impacts of health information systems (HIS). During that time he also published a meta-systematic review conference paper on the type of HIS evaluation methods and metrics used in healthcare settings. The HIS evaluation framework has now been adopted by Canada Health Infoway as the overarching Benefits Evaluation Framework to evaluate the impacts of electronic health record (EHR) implementation initiatives across Canada. The methodology review paper is also widely used by jurisdictions as a guide to design EHR evaluation studies and methods.

Health Informatics Research Training and Capacity Building – Francis Lau

Dr. Lau is currently leading two educational initiatives to advance health informatics research training and capacity building through the innovative use of e-learning methods and tools. These are the PhD/postdoctoral/practitioner research training program in health informatics with eight university partners, funded by the CIHR strategic training initiative, and the collaborative distributed MSc program in health informatics with four western Canada university partners. Dr. Lau has been instrumental in designing and implementing e-learning policies, methods and technologies for these programs that include distributed experiential learning, virtual networks and collaborative environment, and inter-institutional educational policy arrangements.

Patterns and consequences of cocaine and alcohol use for substance abuse treatment clients - Macdonald, S., Borges, G., Callaghan, R., Ross, E., Stockwell, T. and Wells, S

Directed by Dr. Scott MacDonald, this project is funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research as a three-year Operating Grant. The project recognizes that within the field of addictions research there are now specialized sub-fields and researchers, for example heroin researchers and crack cocaine researchers who frequently do not interact and share information, methodologies, etc.. However many people have joint substance use patterns, for example combining alcohol (drinking at a bar) and cocaine (snorting lines in the bathroom) use. This project looks at polysubstance use patterns through interviewing people in treatment centres in Ontario and British Columbia.

Social and Epidemiological Research on Alcohol - Scott Macdonald

Dr. Macdonald is involved with many alcohol studies through the Centre for Addictions Research of BC.

Factors Related to Traffic Collisions, Violence and Injury Risk Among Cannabis and Cocaine Clients – Scott Macdonald, R. Mann, M. Chipman, P. Erickson

The objective of this research is to determine whether variables within three groups of factors (drug factors, such as patterns and amount of use, acute and chronic pharmacological actions of the drugs; set factors, such as sleep problems, aggression and risk-taking; and setting factors, such as the situations in which drug use occurs) are related to elevated risks of collisions, violence and accidental injury. The sample of over 1,000 clients in treatment for a problem of cocaine or cannabis abuse and a control group of tobacco cessation and problem gambling completed a self-administered questionnaire. Data is currently being analysed and several papers are being prepared for publication.

Cross-substance use patterns of use, consequences and policy responses. – Scott Macdonald, T. Stockwell, E. Goldner, B. Fischer, G. Barnes, J. Johnson, C. Cherpitel, D. Reist, & J. Somers

This project will examine the patterns of multiple substance use, its adverse outcomes, longitudinal analysis of relationships between different substances in youth and young adults, and the population impacts of patterns of multiple substance use in BC. The multidisciplinary team will focus on three main issues: (i) transitions between different patterns of use and different classes of substance during adolescence and young adulthood; (ii) patterns of substance use that increase the risk of emergency department presentations for injury or overdose); (iii) multiple substance use and risk behaviours among street drug users.

Antisocial behaviour and the automobile: Automobile-linked crime in Canada – Scott. Macdonald, R. Smart, R. Linden, R. Mann, M. Asbridge, C. Backhouse, P. Boase, P. Brantingham, J. Butters, B. Fischer, J. Rehm, R. Solomon, E. Vingilis, D. Wiesenthal.

This multi-faceted project includes components focusing on both understanding and preventing automobile-linked crime and focusess on the following areas: vehicle theft in Canada, alcohol and drug-impaired driving and road rage. chronic motoring offenders, and impaired driver sensors.

eHealth Strategies - Denis Protti

Professor Protti is a member of the eHealth Strategies research team which is assessing the progress made by the 27 European Union( EU) Member States in their efforts towards realising the goals of the European Union eHealth Action Plan. The collected information will be synthesized and distilled into national country briefs and a European level progress report. The European level progress report will be enriched with good practice examples from each of the study domains.

Adoption of Information Technology in Primary Care Physician Offices: An Original Comparison Methodology - Denis Protti

An evaluation of the various factors which have contributed to the rate of adoption of primary care physician office computing which may be important for future evaluations in other settings such as those of specialist offices and clinics. The methodology assumes that the EMR functionality is"‘active" in terms of being real-time and on-line vs. "passive" which supports off-line activities such as printing forms which are then manually faxed or mailed. Varying definitions, means of implementation, and actual usage of technologies by primary care physician staff versus themselves are but some of the many factors which make this exercise challenging. This work is exploratory and qualitative in nature and therefore cannot completely tease out all of the various effects. The reliability and validity of the instrument will have to be determined by having other jurisdictions apply it and provide feedback. That being said,the methodology attempts to establish the ‘state of the nation’ across 12 criteria based on actual usage by primary care physicians versus EMR system functionality being available.

Informing Health Care: The Welsh National IM&T Strategy - Denis Protti

Assessing the IHC Programme in the context of national policy and its national implementation strategy while at the same time determining how well the national and local ‘end-to-end planning’ is progressing, this time focussing attention more on local organisations and their capacity and capability to deliver. Nurturing the newly forming Health Informatics Communities to become effective delivery mechanisms represents a significant change management challenge. Shining the spotlight upon them will be extremely beneficial in providing attention and support at critical time in their development. The same beneficial effect upon these local communities as the the IHC Programme has had nationally is the expected outcome.

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