Developing a Collaborative Health Informatics System to Foster Inter-agency Collaboration and Communication during Public Health Emergencies: Remote and Isolated First Nation Communities of Sub-arctic Ontario, Canada

By Nadia A. Charania, Christine D. Barbeau, Daniel D. McCarthy, Don Cowan and Leonard J. S. Tsuji.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Public health emergencies have the potential to cause high morbidity and mortality rates, especially within disadvantaged groups. Remote and isolated First Nation communities face additional challenges when responding to a public health emergency. The lack of collaboration and communication between the multiple government bodies in Canada (i.e., federal, provincial, and First Nations) responsible for the provision of health care may have led to a fragmented response and management of a public health emergency.
Disease outbreaks expand over space and time; thus, a web-based geospatial information system capable of capturing, displaying, and sharing real-time knowledge at the community, regional, and national levels regarding disease and its growth would be extremely valuable. The objective is to develop a web-based information system that meets the needs of health care professionals in three remote and isolated First Nation communities of sub-arctic Ontario, Canada, which has the potential to improve public health emergency responses.
An initial needs assessment with First Nations-based health care professionals was conducted to guide the development of the collaborative health informatics system. Results indicated that there is the potential to use a web-based information system to improve the level of inter-agency collaboration and communication between involved government bodies during a public health emergency. As well, a secure, web-based information system would provide health care practitioners with easily accessible patient health information visually presented in their desired format. Participants also indicated other potential uses of the system; therefore, future research will be conducted to gain more insight into proposed uses.
The developed system will address the participant’s identified concerns (i.e., confidentiality of health information, differential access levels, and high-security) and will be presented to each community to gain further feedback before final design and deployment. The study communities will be given their system as it will function as a stand-alone system with their data securely housed for each community; however, users will retain the ability to request changes and modifications to the system to meet their changing needs.

Keywords: Collaborative Geomatics, Collaborative Health Informatics, Sub-Arctic, First Nation Communities, Health Care Services, Disease Monitoring, WIDE Toolkit

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.75-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.781MB).

Nadia A. Charania

Graduate Student, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Christine D. Barbeau

Graduate Student, Department of Environment and Resource Studies. , Faculty of Environment., University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Daniel D. McCarthy

Assistant Professor, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Don Cowan

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Leonard J. S. Tsuji

Professor, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


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