Towards a learning healthcare system through collaboration

There is no question that the looming grey tsunami of the ageing population in Ontario has significant implications with regards to healthcare services. A key concept which is emerging is the opportunity to foster and maintain brain health across the lifespan where optimal performance and quality is sustained. While much focus has been on the attempts to intervene once brain disease has taken hold, progress has been slow.

Clearly, new thinking and leveraging new opportunities will be necessary given the implications of an ageing at-risk population. The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is leading the charge to engage a learning healthcare system by bringing research to the community and fostering best practices in data science. The emerging research in data science and using so-called ‘real-world data’ in effect pushes the boundaries of research from the high-end hospital-based system of formal clinical trials, towards a process of continuous quality improvement in the community, where research becomes normal activity fostering learning and refining best-in-class care.

In effect, we are striving to make the community the laboratory and the healthcare system itself, the engine of innovation and optimization. The pieces of this learning healthcare system are in place and while the integration of the various pieces is complex, data-driven approaches are where new knowledge will be discovered, deployed and assessed in service of maintained health spans. As we transition towards applying an integrated approach to keeping our brains healthy, we are implementing better ways to communicate our work. The renewed edition of our Brainnovations newsletter helps visualize our projects and achievements in connection to relevant outputs that move us closer to our goal.

By bringing together partners in neuroscience, healthcare, data science and industry, OBI is accelerating the pathway towards improved brain health and enhancing the health spans of people living in Ontario. The work we do and the steps we take forward are strengthening a foundation where we can equip ourselves in preparation for the large wave of healthcare challenges to come.

Sharing Caregiving Strategies to Address Risky Behaviour Changes in Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia is a long and challenging journey. Over the course of this disorder memory, cognitive function and other abilities deteriorate. Behaviour can also change over time in ways that are completely out of character for that person. For instance, the person with dementia may display aggressive behavior or get angry and act out. This can be very difficult as a caregiver and can lead to many questions. Is this typical? Is there something I can do to change this potentially risky behaviour? Getting these answers to caregivers is important for improving both care and safety in the home.

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A Holistic Way to Think About Our Health and Reframe Disability

No one likes to be defined by an illness, disorder or disability – even when we are a patient. Our ‘health’ is not only based on our biology, but also by our relationships with friends and family and our ability to do the things we enjoy. Researchers Drs. Peter Rosenbaum and Jan-Willem Gorter from our cerebral palsy research program (CP-NET) wrote a concept paper[1] explaining how holistic thinking towards health can create a better framework to approach childhood disability. This framework helps to identify the ability and potential in persons with disabilities like cerebral palsy so people can work with them the same way we should with anyone else.

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