The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges that have increasingly impacted our organization, patients and community. IBH has played a pivotal role in supporting THP’s pandemic response through research and innovation activities aligned with the needs of our organization and community, including pandemic data modeling, hospital screening, rapid evidence syntheses of COVID-19 related issues, production of 3D printed personal protective equipment, build of a contact tracing data system and operationalizing THP’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics. IBH has also engaged in ground-breaking research and innovation with over 19,000 community participants enrolled in new COVID-19 projects, such as the Canadian-led international CONCOR-1 clinical trial, where THP has been placed among the top 10 recruiting sites across the world.
Despite the suspension of most research and innovation activity due to the pandemic, our researchers and innovators quickly adapted to the new environment to support the priorities of our organization, community and province. Most notably, IBH launched a large Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded project to evaluate the success factors related to the implementation of Epic, our single electronic medical record. IBH scientists also contributed to several provincial initiatives, including the development of RISE, a provincial support and learning program for Ontario’s 40 new Ontario Health Teams. It has also been a notable year for the submission and success of external grants, funding and awards. Through new external partnerships and the submission of 36 funding applications (with a success rate of 16.7 per cent including four CIHR grants), IBH researchers and innovators generated over $4 million in external funding, a record year for IBH and 44 per cent increase from last year.
This past year, IBH welcomed two new Research Chairs, Dr. Robert Reid, Hazel McCallion Research Chair in Learning Health Systems and Dr. Laura Rosella, Stephen Family Research Chair in Community Health. Dr. Reid and Dr. Rosella join our existing Research Chairs, Dr. Walter Wodchis, Trillium Health Partners’ Research Chair of Implementation and Evaluation Science and Dr. Kerry Kuluski, Dr. Mathias Gysler Research Chair in Patient & Family Centred Care. Together, these Research Chairs created a catalytic moment for population health research in Canada. In addition to our Research Chairs, we also welcomed a number of new talents including Dr. Laura Desveaux as Scientific Lead and Learning Health System Program Lead. While they could lead and conduct research anywhere – they have chosen THP – given the unique opportunity that exists by being directly embedded within the hospital and integrated within the community.
Over the past year, our innovation program has continued to build capabilities, launch new projects and expand existing activities. Key highlights from the last year include the internal development and launch of a customized technology solution to support the hospital’s Insight Health Solutions program, which provides Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) services to over 4,000 clients across south western Ontario each year. This product is now being used across partner sites in Ontario to enhance care and improve efficiency of services. The past year also marked the first anniversary of the Coordinated Accessible National (CAN) Health Network, which works together to introduce new technologies to address health system issues. As one of the leading Canadian health organizations within the Network, IBH’s innovation program successfully partnered with Maple and SeamlessMD to deploy and trial new Canadian technologies to support clinical services and align with care needs at THP and in the community.
Although it has been a tremendous year for research and innovation activities, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the inequities we knew existed in our community, including institutional racism and lack of health equity and access to health services. As a community-based institute, we have a key role to play in understanding the needs and priorities of our community through research and innovation and mitigating the disproportionate impact of these inequities on the health of our community. As a first step to dismantling Anti-Black Racism within our organization, IBH has created the Anti-Black Racism strategy and Anti-Black Racism Allyship Initiative working group. This work has led to IBH representation at the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network Research (TAHSNr) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion working group, and enabled connections and collaboration on the development of our organization’s first demographic survey. We recognize that there is still much to do - as an organization, we have renewed our commitment to dismantling racism and integrating anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion best practices to improve the health of our community.
While the challenges presented by the pandemic have impacted us all, the strength and support of our staff, patients, physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, learners, volunteers and donor community has been unwavering truly making us better together. Our accomplishments and continued growth would not be possible without your support – thank you for your ongoing dedication and commitment to research and innovation!
Robert Reid, MD, PhD
Chief Scientist, Institute for Better Health
Senior Vice-President, Science, Trillium Health Partners
Vice-President, Institute for Better Health