The Globe and Mail Catalyst Program
With a weekly readership of approximately one million, The Globe and Mail is Canada’s most widely read national newspaper.
But as digital technologies evolve and permeate all aspects of our lives, the newspaper industry has had to undergo dramatic changes—one of which is finding ways to truly interact with and engage readers.
In late spring of 2010, The Globe and Mail hired a social media and online community-building firm to help the newspaper develop a strategy for un- precedented public engagement. The strategy would revolve around a series of in-depth stories the Globe was set to release that fall called, “Canada: Our Time to Lead.”
The Globe asked its partner to do two things: (1) improve the interaction between readers and journalists, and (2) improve the quality and quantity of online commenting on globeandmail.com. Their solution was to bring together a group of readers to form an online community influential enough to create this change.
Under the name, “The Catalyst Program,” the project successfully created a community of nearly 4,000 online forum members (or “Catalysts”), including thought leaders, accomplished professionals and industry influencers—nine per cent of whom commented on stories actively, while 38 per cent contributed regularly. Total online comments topped 5,000, and some individual articles received more than 1,000 comments alone. Meanwhile, more than 30 Globe journalists posted in the online forum, and the current waiting list for the next Catalyst Program sits at roughly 3,500.
All of these figures far surpassed the organizations’ expectations for the project, and Globe and Mail Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse called the program “the most important journalistic endeavour the <em>Globe</em> has undertaken this year.”
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation: DART — Data Analytics and Retrieval Technology
For more than 32 years, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has been creating excitement and fueling the dreams of Ontarians through its lotteries, casinos, slots and bingos throughout the province. Trust is central to their operations. Every player needs to know the games are fair.
In 2009, OLG commissioned an audit of the integrity and security of its lotteries. The results recommended that the OLG use data analytics to find, combat and—most importantly—prevent insiders and others from engaging in fraudulent activity.
After months of development with a number of industry partners, the OLG launched the DART (Data Analytics and Retrieval Technology) system on July 6, 2010. With the click of a button, the system immediately provides its users with access to billions of lottery transactions dating back to 1999.
Searches that previously took days or months now take mere minutes, even seconds. What’s more, DART is the first and only system of its kind in the world. With annual transactions of 1.2 billion, the lottery data analytic environment in Ontario is twice as large as the annual VISA transactions processed in the province, and five times larger than the TSX’s annual transactions. The OLG users now know literally everything there is to know about any lottery sale, valida- tion, redemption, complaint or other incident that OLG customers or retailers have made within the last 22 years. The project is an indispensable tool for ensuring confidence in all the products OLG offers.
Since its inception almost one year ago, DART has exceeded expectations. It has contributed to improved results from the OLG’s public trust surveys, and has been celebrated by a number of prominent news organizations including CNN, Computer World Magazine, the Toronto Star and the Financial Post.
And in one special case, DART’s innovative capabilities enabled the OLG to find the rightful owner of a December 26, 2003, ticket worth $14.85 million— seven years after the draw—a late Christmas gift conveyed through the power of information and communications technology.
Pointe-de-l’Île Community Health Centre
Located on the eastern tip of the Island of Montréal, Pointe-de-l’Île is a primarily industrial area that is home to 200,000 residents. Fifteen per cent of them live below the poverty line.
The Pointe-de-l’Île Community Health Centre is responsible for providing a full range of healthcare services for this neighbourhood. Each year, its requests for at-home health services increase by 20 per cent. In a province where health- care costs account for 53 per cent of the annual budget, providers have found it increasingly difficult to provide Pointe-de-l’Île residents with the healthcare they need.
In January 2009, the Pointe-de-l’Île Community Health Centre introduced an innovative technology-based program to help its patients living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Using remote patient monitoring (or RPM) technology, the Health Centre’s goals were to double the number of patients managed per registered nurse, and to cut in half the number of home visits required by each registered nurse. And they did just that. Nurses now manage 60 patients per week, equating to a 167 per cent boost in productivity. Further- more, they reduced the number of home visits by 80 per cent—well above target—saving the healthcare system $450 per patient. The system saw a full return on investment in only one year—well ahead of the original target of three years.
Most importantly, patients have reported a better quality of life for their families and themselves, due to their ability to manage their own conditions. They find the online system user-friendly and they feel more secure at home, better informed, and ultimately, empowered by the technology.
TinyEYE Therapy Systems
The acquisition of language skills is a vital part of a child’s development. For some children, mastering the art of speech is more challenging than for others. Wherever possible, they turn to speech pathologists—professionals dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of functional and organic speech defects—for help. But there is a critical shortage of speech pathologists in North America and around the world. The shortage is particularly acute in rural and remote areas. An estimated 300,000 children have no direct access to speech therapy due to geography or social and economic conditions.
This shortage of therapists is exacerbated by the intense travel burden placed upon the speech language pathologists (or, SLPs) that do practice. Travelling from school district to school district, from patient to patient, they spend a great deal of time in transit and, on average, less than 50 per cent of their time caring for patients. Administrative tasks and record-keeping further reduce face-time with children requiring therapy.
This shortage of SLPs suggested a business opportunity for Saskatoon-based TinyEYE Therapy Systems. Recognizing that therapeutic services could be effectively delivered over the Internet, the company developed a web-based therapy platform that is accessible by any school with a computer and a high- speed Internet connection. Requiring only a standard computer, web camera, headset and a high-speed connection, TinyEYE’s program automates reporting functions and completely eliminates travel time. The result? The 35 SLPs employed by TinyEYE spend 90 per cent of their time with the children, an increase of 40 per cent.
More than 350 schoolchildren in Saskatchewan now receive speech therapy that they would not otherwise receive, thanks to TinyEYE. And the company hasn’t stopped there. More than 50 per cent of its sales now come from outside of Canada. In total, the company has completed more than 40,000 online therapy sessions with more than 3,000 children, spanning 12 countries and four languages.
By reducing the time SLPs spend on non-therapeutic tasks, and increasing the amount of time they spend providing direct therapy to children, TinyEYE has clearly demonstrated the power of using ICT to build a dynamic, exporting business while improving the lives of its young clients.
Ontario Telemedicine Network
Some 2.6 million Ontarians live in rural and remote areas and many require specialized medical treatment of some sort. However, only 9.4 per cent of physicians are located in these areas. While the province of Ontario has established different programs throughout the 1980s and 1990s to address this issue, healthcare costs have continued to rise well into the new millennium, calling for a new and innovative solution.
The Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) was created to develop and support telemedicine solutions that enhance the access and quality of healthcare for patients living in these areas, as well as to inspire adoption of telemedicine solutions by healthcare providers, organizations and the public. To do this required innovation at many dimensions of information and communications technology: networking, real-time video conferencing, use of picture archive communications systems, real-time monitoring, first- and second-level support systems. OTN even developed its own software capable of creating a specialized referral management and scheduling system.
Today, more than 1,000 sites are seamlessly connected via this dynamic virtual private network (VPN) and are proactively monitored from OTN’s network operations centre. OTN provides hundreds of users with up-to-date event information, resource scheduling, conflict resolution and communications services using open-source software and web-based interfaces.
Every day, hundreds of Ontarians now use telemedicine to receive care from clinicians who are practicing hundreds of kilometres away. OTN has evolved into the world’s largest video conferencing network, providing state-of-the-art care to hundreds of communities, and helping provide care to more than 125,000 patients annually. Surveys reveal a 94 per cent patient satisfaction rate, and one of 93 per cent among physicians. In 2009-2010, the use of telemedicine in northern Ontario alone saved more than 45 million kilometres of patient travel and more than $18 million in travel costs. An independent evaluation of
a telehomecare project showed a reduction of 65 per cent in the average number of hospitalizations, 72 per cent in the number of admissions to hospital, and 95 per cent in the number of walk-in clinic visits. Other OTN pilot programs have shown specialist wait times reduced from six months to four weeks for diabetic screening, and from six to 18 months down to 10 days for dermatology consults. Through an emergency-based telemedicine program, nearly 2,000 stroke patients in distant communities who could not otherwise have access to treatment received care from stroke neurologists.
OTN is a tremendous asset to the province of Ontario, delivering superb quality of care while saving money and lives.
Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York: Single Plan of Care and Electronic Client Record Project
Any parent can attest to the fact that caring for a child is a full-time job. But caring for a child with multiple disabilities is vastly more complex, requiring a huge team of doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors and other professionals. The more this group can unite to function as a team, the better the outcomes for the child. That’s precisely the idea behind the Children’s Treatment Net- work of Simcoe York. This organization provides a new model of service delivery that links health, education, recreation, social and community resources from more than 30 organizations to improve the lives of disabled children and their families in Simcoe County and York Region in Ontario.
Information and communications technology is at the heart of this new model, starting with an electronic record for children and youth with multiple disabilities or special needs. The goals of the system were to reduce the burden on parents of coordinating services, setting appointments and sharing health- care information essential to the health of a child with several healthcare service providers. The “single plan of care” model it envisioned created one point of access to the child’s electronic record, and allows healthcare, education, recreation, and social and community service organizations to post progress notes and outcome reports all in one secure place.
Referrals to services now occur quicker, wait times are reduced and, most importantly, the quality of care provided for the children and their families is increased significantly. To date, more than 4,000 children have a shared electronic record on the network. Five hundred of these have been transitioned to the “single plan of care” model. The number of processed referrals has multiplied by 65 since project launch, and the number of completed child/family interviews has increased by 60 per cent. Meanwhile, 900 care professionals have been trained on the “single plan of care” approach.
The Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York has been a trailblazer for other similar organizations. The success of this project has led the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services to implement the same electronic client record model within 12 additional children’s treatment centres across the province, with plans to incorporate the hospital sector this year.