A diagnosis of heart failure can be overwhelming, leaving patients feeling confused and alone. TeamUHN is UHNITED in our goal of creating new ways to individualize care and support patients in actively navigating their healthcare journey.
Developing on-demand care through collaboration
Approximately one million Canadians are living with heart failure.
Finding effective treatment options can be challenging without timely information and real-time, actionable data from patients. Dr. Heather Ross, Division Head of Cardiology at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at UHN, Site Lead for the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Loretta A. Rogers Heart Function Chair and Pfizer Chair in Cardiovascular Research, was determined to find a better way to give patients the care they need.
In 2016, Dr. Ross began collaborating with Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, an engineer and human health factors expert and the Executive Director of Biomedical Engineering at UHN and Dr. Emily Seto, who a was PhD student at that time and is now a faculty member at the University of Toronto. Together, they developed Medly, a digital health platform that is changing the face of heart healthcare.
Medly is a comprehensive self-management app that offers round-the-clock care to patients anytime, anywhere. Users log daily stats like weight, blood pressure and heart rate, as well as answers to symptom questions. Medly’s advanced algorithm analyzes this data instantly, providing immediate feedback to the patient and their family. Should there be a patient alert, the care team at UHN can offer immediate intervention.
Making patients feel less alone, no matter where they are
Brad Pope was diagnosed with heart failure at just 47 years old, despite living an active lifestyle. Although his condition was being managed with medication, he suffered a heart attack a year after his diagnosis, which resulted in emergency surgery. In 2017, following his surgery, Dr. Ross introduced Brad to Medly, which offered him the support and peace of mind he needed.
When patients like Brad input their data into the Medly app, it is reviewed by nurse coordinators like Stella Kozuszko, Medly’s Lead Clinical Coordinator. She and her team monitor patients in real-time, a crucial development for a condition like heart failure where small changes can lead to life-threatening incidents. If concerns are detected, the patient’s physician is alerted for direct communication with the patient.
A UHNITED team in changing the future
The success of Medly extends beyond its technological capabilities. Its exceptional user experience allows patients to feel like Medly is an extension of their UHN healthcare team. This groundbreaking work demonstrates what can happen when a diverse team of experts comes together to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges. Medly is a specialized solution that was created by cardiac specialists, engineers, researchers, human factors experts and nurses working side-by-side.
Ongoing research continues to enhance and expand the capabilities of Medly. For example, UHN is actively introducing this technology to remote communities in northern Ontario, aiming to positively impact Indigenous patients with, or at risk for, heart failure. The Medly team is also adding artificial intelligence to enhance the app’s functionality, efficiency and reach for patients who struggle to access health resources. Dr. Ross’ vision for Medly is to allow everyone access to UHN’s world-class care, regardless of location.
At UHN, turning a bold vision like this into a reality is the norm, not the exception.