Made in Alberta medical resources
November 30, 2016
One of the challenges we face as physicians is to understand how recent studies, reviews, guidelines and other information relate to the person in our examining room who has come to us for help. Much of this information may have been gathered in locations and populations with significant variance from our local environment and therefore may not be applicable. Fortunately, there are several high-quality resources produced in our province designed to aid us in our decision-making process as it relates to our fellow Albertans.
Toward Optimized Practice (TOP) (www.topalbertadoctors.org/cpgs/) was developed to help “ ... Alberta physicians and practice teams implement evidence-based practices to enhance the care of their patients. In alignment with Alberta’s Primary Health Care Strategy, TOP strives to cultivate a culture of quality improvement to support physicians and teams with the work of building the best medical homes for Albertans.” The clinical practice guidelines developed by the team at TOP are evidence-based, timely, succinct, regularly updated (five new and reviewed in 2016) and offer useful tools focused on local patients’ needs.
Tools for Practice (TFP) (www.acfp.ca/tools-for-practice/), sponsored by the Alberta College of Family Practice provide content that “ ... is developed free of industry bias and is based on the best available evidence. Each article is peer-reviewed, ensuring it maintains a high standard of quality, accuracy and academic integrity. TFP is coordinated by Dr. G. Michael Allan (Mike), Associate Professor in the University of Alberta Department of Family Medicine.” These biweekly articles, numbering more than 160, summarize medical evidence on specific clinical questions relevant to daily practice in Alberta.
Practical Doc (www.practicaldoc.ca) “... was formed in response to the ongoing need to provide practicing rural physicians with a place where they can access online skills, resources and support. More than a clearinghouse for content, Practical Doc merges the needs of a physician who may be looking for information with the support that can be sometimes hard to find when working in a rural community.” This website, sponsored by the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan with significant input from Dr. Hugh Hindle, provides clinical and teaching resources as well as an informative blog relevant to all physicians.
Primary Care Clinical Resources (PCCR) (mypccr.com) is a cross-platform tool designed to allow rapid access to many local primary care resources, clinical pathways, teaching tools, videos, recommended apps and point-of-care tools available to physicians with a goal to improve patient care and learner education. Funded by the Department of Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives of the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary (U of C), and curated by Dr. Gadget, PCCR was released as a free iOS app (itunes.apple.com/ca/app/pccr/id1128081078?mt=8) in July with a goal to increase the availability of the tools highlighted in this article and many other resources to busy physicians on their mobile devices.
Spectrum MD (itunes.apple.com/ca/app/spectrum-md-localized-antimicrobial/id921339941?mt=8) is a customizable point-of-care app for local antibiotic stewardship developed in Calgary by a working group of critical care, infectious diseases and medical microbiology clinicians and pharmacists. The app is customizable for any hospital, providing local clinical guidelines, antimicrobial data relevant to the local formulary and pathogen data including local resistance patterns as well as a direct communication link to the local stewardship team. The implementation of this app was recognized with the 2016 LEADing Practice award from Canada Health Infoway.
Time2Doc (itunes.apple.com/ca/app/time2doc/id1077538850?mt=8), developed in partnership with the South Calgary Primary Care Network (PCN), with significant input by a U of C medical student, now resident, Dr. Jaron Easterbrook, is a free mobile app that increases patient access to primary care, improves patient attachment and engagement, and helps balance resource utilization. The app includes a wait-times module, turn-by-turn directions, hours, upcoming holidays and click-to-call functionality. Also included are a directory of services for self-referral, links to useful tools and the ability to send out public health notices, such as flu shot reminders and heat advisories. Currently, it supports 23 clinics in south Calgary, has been downloaded by more than 1,000 patients and is used by 40-50 patients each day.
Relevant, evidence-based, easily accessible information and tools will become increasingly important as we continue to strive for patient centered care and precision medicine. The websites and apps mentioned in this article represent only a small part of the work currently being done in our province by many dedicated and innovative people. I am personally looking forward to what the future will bring.