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Public Engagement, Idea Generation, Crowdsourcing

Problem Addressed: The process of gathering patient and provider feedback about how to improve the healthcare system requires more transparency and accountability.
Action Undertaken: We launched (MHI), a transparent approach to harness collaborative healthcare innovations. Any visitor can submit ideas, vote, and build upon ideas submitted by other people or upon ideas found on the Web. MHI also curates patient petitions and patient-related patents and expressions of gratitude about quality health services.
Impact Achieved: As of April 22, 2009 MHI had aggregated 2,791 patient-led petitions (854 petitions voted upon, with 1,215 votes, and 230 comments); 72 ideas (48 ideas voted, 450 votes); 82 micro-ideas (77 micro-ideas voted, 482 votes); 5417 patents (833 patents voted, 1090 votes). MHI was one of several leading health 2.0 models presented to decision makers for anti-stigma initiatives. On the Web, patients have expressed how MHI is positively influencing the public experience with the health system by opening new channels for patient and caregiver participation and engagement towards a more open and transparent health system. has a Google™ footprint of over 135,000 and is, after 12 months, the most publicly accessible and visible forum in the world for submitting and voting on new health innovations (as determined by typing in “innovation” and “health” into Google). The Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Portfolio in the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has used MHI in an initiative to capture new ideas, as has Longwoods Publishing and the National Post newspaper.


Caregiver Burden, Policy Innovation

Problem Addressed: Caregiver burden, i.e., the overall physical, emotional and financial costs of caregiving, has been recognized as a priority problem by the Long-Range Scenario Planning Unit, Health System Strategy Division.
Action Undertaken: We built a real-time data capture technology tool to curate public attitudes toward informal caregiving. Our goal was to gather the voices of patients and caregivers online to understand people’s perceptions, over time, on caregiving issues with a view to finding low-cost solutions to the problems identified.
Impact Achieved: This work is influencing the way decision-makers conceive of and address caregiver issues facing our healthcare system, initially by supporting analysis for a keynote address by the Assistant Deputy Minister before decision makers which discussed low-cost, no-cost, and low-tech approaches to alleviating caregiver burden. As of April 23, 2010, the talk entitled “The Day we Stop Caring” by the Assistant Deputy Minister (given May 13, 2009) had been viewed viewed 2,557 times and the slide deck had been downloaded 21,566 times by healthcare administrators, the public and by decision-makers across Canada.


Awards, Sentiment Analysis, Innovation

Problem Addressed: Awards in healthcare are given for past performances. A new approach to healthcare awards is to find a way to identify organizations or people who have helped propel ‘into action’ an idea that holds the promise of dramatically improving patient care and human health throughout in the world. This can be done in ‘real-time’ using Cell-invented ‘scraping’ methodologies.
Action Undertaken: Longwoods Publishing, an independent private company, has announced, via successive press releases, the inception and ongoing work of The Global Accelerator Award™, based on an Innovation Cell methodology to capture patient (and wider public) opinion. The Cell's methodology analyzes which organizations or people have put an idea or strategy into action that has generated significant and recent positive “buzz” or “chatter” on the World Wide Web – notably, on patient-led blogs and social networking sites.
Impact Achieved: The Award, the first of its kind in the world, has recognized 19 organizations or people globally (including Medtronic Inc., The New Zealand Government, Saskatchewan’s Patient First Initiative, The UK’s Legatum Institute, The US Breakthrough Institute, and The Microinsurance Network in Senegal). The press releases are organized in a branded Longwoods publishing page ( As of April 23, 2010 the award page had received over 8,000 page views since October 2009, and has received media attention in New Zealand and around the world. The rationale for the award is being published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Problem Addressed: Citizens do not have sufficient opportunities to contribute openly to the betterment of the health system. Bottom-up and grass-roots innovation has been recognized as an equitable alternative that can improve social solidarity.
Action Undertaken: The Innovation Cell teamed with IBM and organized the first HealthCamp held in Canada. HealthCamp is a global movement pushing change in healthcare to engage participants in meaningful conversations about healthcare innovation. HealthCamp Toronto followed the format of 'unconferences' -- a participant-driven conference centered around improving the patient experience.
Impact Achieved: More than 100 global “Web influencers” (including patients, providers, policy makers, journalists) from different countries, with different training, and from different ethnocultural backgrounds met face to face, and many more followed the conversation online (via Twitter™). Organizations in attendance included the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Health Council of Canada. We concluded HealthCamp with a “call to action” to continue discussing the role of patients in healthcare. This unconference leveraged generous in-kind donations from IBM and initiated a new analytical project to better understand the connectivity of the online conversation and to prioritize the sentiments expressed at the conference. With the impetus gained from HealthCamp, the Innovation Cell is now leading the organization of Mental HealthCamp 2010 to be held on May 28, 2010 at the Toronto Reference Library. One of Mental HealthCamp’s goals is to reduce stigma and improve access for all Ontarians (


Chat Lab, Flu, Strategy

Problem Addressed: Traditional communication and education strategies by public health authorities are limited in their capacity to counteract anti-vaccine sentiment on the Internet. Millions of dollars were spent on public health education during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
Action Undertaken: During and following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic we evaluated the perceptions of flu vaccine safety using a new zero-cost Web-based analytical tool we developed. We aggregated and displayed this dynamic information in real-time on a publicly accessible area (
Impact Achieved: Results of our assessment and The Chat Lab were demonstrated at HealthAchieve 2009 and at the Innovation Expo where policy makers and visitors had the chance to interact and discuss our findings. We found that Web sites containing anti-vaccine sentiment remained popular after the approval of the vaccine by Health Canada. From October 2009 to December 2009, our vaccine safety perception results were shared with decision-makers who are studying our initiative to determine best practices in public health communications during a pandemic.


Social Media, Quality Improvement, The Change Foundation

Problem Addressed: Patients and caregivers are increasingly speaking out online and suggesting new ways to make patient outcomes and the continuum of care seamless and of high quality.
Action Undertaken: The Innovation Cell has partnered with The Change Foundation to explore how patients and caregivers are using on-line dialogue to drive health-care improvement.
Impact Achieved: We are working with quality improvement groups within two major teaching hospitals -- Providence Healthcare and The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health -- to use social media to improve quality of care. Our scan of best practices in hospitals’ use of social media is now informing the development of an ‘e-Toolkit’ of case studies and informed discussion around lessons learned about the potential and limitations of social media to improve healthcare. Our scan of best practices is evolving dynamically with open and transparent contributions from researchers in Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States to help us improve and refine the e-Toolkit.