Waterloo-Wellington LHIN invests $250K to customize health app

Toronto startup Dash MD has received $250,000 from the Waterloo-Wellington LHIN to customize a smartphone app to better serves patients in Waterloo region and Wellington County.

App gives patients digital access to discharge instructions and community connections

(Dash MD/Facebook)

An app that helps patients being discharged from the hospital manage all their post-care information is coming to Waterloo region and Wellington County.

The Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has invested $250,000 in Toronto startup Dash MD to have the company customize the smartphone app for local patients.

The app includes discharge instructions, medical notes and community connections — information that would normally be provided verbally or in paper-form.

"Patients leave the health system with a lot of educational content that they're expected to digest and understand," co-founder Zack Fisch told CBC News.

"Oncology patients, as well as hip and knee replacement patients, they're literally given binders full of information that they're expected to go through."

'In one ear and out the other'

The danger of giving people so much information when they leave the hospital is that important instructions can get lost in the mix, Fisch said. 

That transition from hospital to home is really a danger area for a lot of patients.- Zack Fisch, Dash MD

That's what happened to him a few years ago after he underwent surgery for a broken leg. Fisch said his nurse gave him detailed instructions when he left the hospital, but he was very tired, very medicated and very stressed. 

"Everything just went in one ear and out the other," he said. "Because of that, I developed a preventable complication in my leg I didn't know I had. That progressed to the point that I nearly had my leg amputated."

Fisch said that experience changed the course of his life, prompting him to launch a startup and develop the app Dash MD.

'Really a danger area'

"That transition from hospital to home is really a danger area for a lot of patients, because they're leaving this environment with a lot of structure and a lot of support surrounding their care and their recovery, and they're journeying back into the community and they're losing pretty much all of that in an instant," he said.

"Be it from the hospital or be it from the doctor's office to your house — that point of transition is really what we're targeting to help patients more effectively coordinate care and recovery."

Up until now, Fisch said the Dash MD app has been adopted by 11 health centres in Canada. Now, with a $250,000 investment from the Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network, the app will expand to seven hospitals in Waterloo region and Wellington County.
(Dash MD/Facebook)

Rolling out to 7 hospitals

While the LHIN explored other digital options before making the investment, Elliot Fung, executive lead for innovation and strategic partnerships, said Dash MD is one of a kind.

"When we did a market analysis of the technologies that are out there, there were literally the only one that provided the total end solution like that," Fung told CBC News.

He added the app is a digital version of a paper system that is already used in at least one of the area hospitals, which also makes it ideal.

The LHIN hopes to test it out with patients who are discharged from the Freeport Campus of Grand River Hospital in the coming months, before rolling out at other hospitals in the regions.