New app empowers patients by making self-management easy

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Whether they come to the hospital with the flu, broken bones, or a head injury – patients at William Osler Health System’s (Osler) Emergency Departments (ED) are now able to take charge of their health like never before. A new mobile app called Osler Outpatient is empowering patients by making it easier for them to manage their after-care once they leave the hospital.

Osler Outpatient allows patients to more actively participate in their discharge from hospital by replacing traditional paper discharge instructions with an app that patients can access anywhere and anytime. Other features of the app include a calendar function that allows patients to set alerts and reminders for medication, appointments, or important milestones in their recovery; customizable options that allow patients to tailor a care plan based on their discharge instructions; and Frequently Asked Questions to help patients decide whether they should seek medical care after discharge.

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“We are excited that this app is now available to our patients and families, and about the positive impact it can make as part of their care experience,” said Susan deRyk, Vice President, Patient Experience, Communications and Strategy at Osler. “With its user-friendly features, Osler Outpatient, is making it much easier for patients to be proactive and to manage their care confidently and effectively once they return home after their stay in hospital.

Unveiled on May 26 before a crowd at Osler’s Brampton Civic Hospital, Osler Outpatient was the winning app that emerged from Osler’s National Student App Contest. The competition was held last November as a hackathon-style event, which attracted teams of high school, undergrad and graduate students. The teams were given 48-hours to develop an innovative Android mobile app to help improve the patient experience at Osler hospitals.

A team of four graduate students from the University of Toronto – Cory Blumenfeld, Victor Chen, Haley Liu, and Jerry Tang – won the contest and then worked closely with patients, physicians and staff to fine-tune the app to ensure it is patient-focused and best suits the diverse health care needs of those Osler serves.

“It has been my team’s goal to build a comprehensive app that improves the quality of care provided to patients at Osler,” said Zach Fisch, a member who joined the team after the contest ended to assist with development and testing. “We think that providing patients with as much information as they need to feel autonomous in the health care process is really important.”

Osler’s new app also aims to boasts positive results for the hospital. As one of the largest community hospitals in Canada, as well as one of the busiest emergency departments in the country, Osler anticipates that empowering patients through this app may help reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions.

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“As people begin to rely increasingly on information provided through their mobile devices, we recognize that we have an unprecedented opportunity to help patients and families better navigate their care experience while they are with us,” said deRyk. “We are looking forward to seeing how this app can help transform the experience for our patients and families, and bring innovative, patient-inspired care to our community, through technology.”

The team of students was presented with a cheque for $10,000, compliments of contest sponsor, Fieldpoint Service Applications Inc. – a software management company based in Oakville, Ontario.

Osler Outpatient can be downloaded on Google Play.