Driving forward the digital transformation of health research

A holiday message of gratitude from VCHRI executive director Dr. Robert McMaster.

It has been a decade since I stepped into my leadership role with VCHRI, and not a day has gone by during this time that I was not immensely proud and impressed with the dedication, tenacity and innovative spirit of our team of researchers, clinicians and staff. Since 2008, I have witnessed monumental growth in research capacity across Vancouver Coastal Health, as well as countless impactful discoveries that are changing the face of health care not only here in BC, but across the globe. Our collaborative efforts and innovative excellence improve the lives of patients and their families every day, and emphasize the tremendous benefits of evidence-based research. 

As a leading research institution we are always embracing new frontiers. The digital health frontier is one I see our teams exploring with open minds and a keen interest in implementing new technologies to help their patients. The emergence of new data management techniques has a positive effect on disease prevention. The rise of mobile devices is paving the way for countless apps that track everything from blood pressure to intubation safety measures. Telehealth options are serving patients who live in remote communities or have difficulty traveling to health care facilities. Phone-based programs for Parkinson’s monitoring, Stroke Coach and text-based electronic Asthma Action Plans, among others, can be accessed from the comfort of patients’ homes, changing the way health care is delivered and received. Personalized health services like TEC4Home and specialized simulation software development are leading to better treatment options for patients and contributing to reduced health care costs. With the help of new technology, we have made amazing advances in patient-centered care, and this is just the beginning.

Data analytics is crucial to the advancement of new innovations, technology and system change. As such, VCHRI partners with the Data Science Institute at UBC to support the collaboration between health researchers and data science researchers in the development and implementation of new tools for harnessing the potential of large and disparate health data sets.

“The coupling of research with developments in digital technologies is breaking down the boundaries of possibility for health care.”

My hope for this coming year is to see more advances in health research as our teams continue to think outside the box. Your work is contributing to the development and application of state-of-the-art digital technology that is enhancing care for patients and their families. Researchers and health professionals are leading the way for the next generation of health care, and I know we will continue to build on our research excellence and the clinical applications that flow from these discoveries. Our capacity to work together, and our drive and commitment to what we do makes even the greatest challenge seem possible.

“Thank you for your ongoing compassion, generosity and commitment to the pursuit of excellence in research and patient care. To all the members of our research community, I wish you and your families the best this holiday season.”

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