WINCHESTER – Life hasn’t, at times, been kind to Michael Genier.

Chesterville-area resident Michael Genier is a patient of the Upper Canada Health Links network, and he’s one of a handful making use of the cutting-edge aTouchAway technology from Ottawa-base Aetonix Systems. He is pictured with his care co-ordinator, Emily Cody. Press Photo – Uhrig

Earlier this year, the Chesterville-area resident found himself homeless, and in grave medical condition.

“Really, it’s been a tough go for me since 2004… I’ve been sick this long,” he said. “And only now am I getting on the right track – minute by minute.”

Genier was the showcase subject at Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) Thurs., Nov. 30 as the village medical facility marked a further success for its Upper Canada Health Links network.

The village hospital is on the cutting edge of a new tablet technology that is helping to care for a select group of complex needs patients in their own homes.

It’s all part of the deployment of the aTouchAway by Ottawa-based Aetonix Systems. The technology has been implemented by both the Upper Canada network and the Arnprior Region and West Ottawa Health Links.

The project is one of 15 to have received funding in the first round of Ontario’s $20 million Health Technologies Fund.

The Ontario Centres of Excellence administers the program through the office of the province’s chief health innovation strategist.

Both Health Links branches have partnered with private and public organizations to deploy the tele-health technology developed by Aetonix. aTouchAway’s communication platform is designed for seniors and others with advance healthcare needs, and connects all of their providers and caregivers on one secure digital platform. Members of the patient’s circle of care can see, speak with, assess and support the patient directly through both a tablet or smartphone application.

“It is certainly a different approach to helping these patients,” WDMH CEO Cholly Boland said.

With five per cent of patients in Ontario accounting for two-thirds of all healthcare costs, assigned implementations like this one serve to ease the strain on the system.

The Health Links are helping by connecting patients with more than 50 agencies, including hospitals, primary care teams, and community service agencies.

“Enhanced connectivity will significantly improve the flexibility and capacity of our care co-ordinators,” Boland said. “They can work with the care team to address each patient’s unique healthcare goals.”

The program has been further bolstered by financial and in-kind contributions by various partners, including Samsung Canada, Boehringer Ingelheim Canada, and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. The Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care is also part of the evaluation process to see how effective the tool is at improving care access for patients with complex needs. All told, the funding sits at $1.2 million.

For Genier, he credits not only the system in place, but also his care co-ordinator, Emily Cody.

“We all need a quarterback, and Emily is mine,” he said.

See more about the tablet technology at Aetonix’s website.