What is mindfulness?
The word mindfulness has become a buzz word in our culture as of late. We see reference to it on the front pages of magazines, we hear celebrities referencing it, and we notice people taking courses of study on it. The interesting thing is that many of us are not completely clear as to what this word means and how we can integrate it into our everyday life.
In a world that is operating at the speed of light, the concepts that are conveyed in mindfulness practice are extremely counter-intuitive to the culture we live in. It has been said that the average person checks their phone over 110 times per day, we are working longer, harder hours than we ever have before in history, and the levels of anxiety and depression are out of control. We have been culturally conditioned to believe that our success is equated to doing more, making more, and being more. As a result, we are living in a time where there are extreme pressures on individuals to find a proper work/life balance.
Mindfulness practice invites us to slow down and check in with the present moment. When we are living our lives at such a fast pace, it becomes next to impossible to truly be present. Our minds race from one task to the next and as a result, we end up accomplishing a lot less at a much lower quality.
Mindfulness practice however, becomes a lifestyle that promotes accomplishing more at a higher level by trying less. Some of the results of mindfulness practice are less chances of burn out, higher levels of creativity and innovation, and a renewed sense of gratitude, energy, and passion for life in the present moment. Mindfulness is not simply a check box on your to-do list. It is a practice that must be embodied in your day to truly experience its powerful affects.
How can I implement mindfulness into my day?
I would like to invite you to begin your mindfulness journey by trying a few practices throughout your day today. Notice what changes as a result.
As our upcoming event with Josh Blair and the TELUS Health team on innovative solutions to Canada's healthcare issues approaches, we asked them to pick a pressing issue more Canadians should be aware of.
This is the second article in their Strong Foundations series, examining five non-negotiable foundations that will support and sustain a truly integrated healthcare ecosystem for Canadians. Its focus is the opportunity to tackle medication management challenges by enabling electronic communication between prescribing physicians, pharmacists, insurers and patients.
It was first published by TELUS Health in January 2018.
In Canada, we like to believe that our health system is among the best in the world. In many ways, it is. But there are aspects of our system that have fallen far behind the standard of practice in other countries. One of the laggards is the way we manage medications, which has an impact on patient safety, medication adherence and ultimately patient outcomes.
Electronic prescribing is fundamental to medication management. In most OECD countries, electronic prescribing has become the norm.
Furthermore, in some States in the US, there are statutes that prohibit prescribing on paper. For example, New York State mandated that practitioners must prescribe electronically. In Maine, an act to prevent opiate abuse by strengthening prescription monitoring of controlled substances was introduced which requires that opioid prescriptions be sent electronically
Why has Canada been so slow?
I believe a major barrier to technology adoption is the fact that our Constitution assigns jurisdictional responsibility for healthcare to the Provincial governments. For many decades, that was a distinct advantage because healthcare decisions were made regionally, close to the people that were receiving the services. Supported by Federal transfer payments, the Provinces funded health care services that were truly world class for many years.
Yet over the last two decades, just as information technology became increasingly important for coordinated and effective care delivery, Canada has slipped in international rankings. Could there be a cause and effect relationship here?
Information technology shows very strong economies of scale: proven, effective solutions can be adopted and applied on a large scale with relatively small incremental costs because hardware is so inexpensive. However, system requirements and standards that are different for each Province have made eHealth solutions very difficult to deliver on a national scale. The resulting patchwork of systems are costlier to manage, maintain and expand than a national platform would be. Several Provinces have worked diligently to implement drug information systems but have not succeeded in delivering electronic prescribing. National pharmacy retailers and software vendors are understandably reluctant to conform to 10 different provincial standards given the cost and complexity that would represent.
The result: everyone waits on the sidelines for a national standard solution to emerge. That is until recently.
Bringing electronic prescribing to the nation
In 2017, Canada Health Infoway launched a solution called PrescribeIT™ that went live in August. It offers a single, national solution that will integrate with provincial drug repositories and provider registries. To-date, six Provinces and a range of pharmacy retailers have expressed a willingness to get on board. This is Canada’s best opportunity to close the electronic prescribing gap, compared to other developed countries.
Many are unaware of the full potential electronic prescribing offers to Canada’s healthcare system, ranging from improved patient safety, to increased medication adherence, to better collaboration between providers. Particular benefits include:
New paradigm offers more than automation of current practice
Electronic prescribing is more than a simple duplication of the paper process. It allows new transactions that have no analog in the paper world. For instance, the physician EMR receives automatic notification from the pharmacy when a prescription is filled. This allows the medication profile the physician sees in the EMR to display adherence information. Similarly, when a physician discontinues a medication in the EMR, a stop order is sent to the pharmacy, taking the medication off the active list in the pharmacy management system.
These are the benefits offered by the version of PrescribeIT™ to be deployed to physicians and pharmacists this year.
But this is only the beginning. Once Canada has the ePrescribing platform in place, there is so much more that can be done.
Giving care providers the full picture
One of the big limitations of our current system of medication management is that none of the care givers sees a complete record of the medications a patient is taking.
The pharmacist does not see what prescriptions are filled in other pharmacies. And, in some Provinces, regulations and patient confidentiality agreements make data sharing between pharmacies challenging.
The physician only sees the prescriptions they have written personally. Those written by specialists, hospitals or walk-in clinics never get to the physician unless the patient shares the information and the physician takes the time to type it into the EMR.
The patient is the ultimate integrator of medication therapy, usually by means of a slip of paper with a list of medications or a plastic bag filled with pill bottles.
Some Provinces have created impressive drug repositories that have a complete record of the medications dispensed within their borders. Unfortunately, utilization of these valuable data sources by health providers is limited for reasons of convenience (i.e. the time it takes to log into another system is onerous) or lack of system access. Furthermore, these repositories lack information about unfilled prescriptions or discontinued medications, rendering them ineffective for addressing poor drug adherence.
Opening avenues to future healthcare frontiers
Once electronic prescribing is widely adopted and integration with provincial drug information systems is in place, Canada will have the ability to progress other important capabilities, such as medication reconciliation. This will allow synchronization between EMRs, hospital systems, pharmacy systems and provincial repositories. All members of a care team (including the patient) would have access to the complete medication history for the first time. The safety benefits of this are dramatic, as drug-to-drug interaction checking against the entire medication list for each patient will be possible within the EMR. Further, adherence information will be available to all, allowing a more proactive approach to patient education.
The time to act is now
We know from other countries that it takes years to spread adoption of ePrescribing across an entire health system. As a nation, we need to move quickly to incorporate ePrescribing into practice. Provinces, pharmacies, hospitals and physicians need to put this to the top of their priority list in a coordinated effort to improve the performance of our health system. Many lives are depending on it.
Canada's population is aging and every province (including Manitoba) forecasts increased healthcare costs in the near future. Considering how many governments already struggle with deficits, the need to spend healthcare dollars effectively has never been higher.
On Friday, April 27 your Winnipeg Chamber invites you to a healthy discussion with Josh Blair on combining private sector solutions with public priorities. As the VP of TELUS Health, he oversees a team of innovators and medical professionals creating technology based solutions that reduce delivery costs while improving health costs for Canadians.
We asked him to share a taste of some of the solutions his team have put forward:
After years of sorting through paper charts, three physicians in different communities across the country all had the same thought: there had to be a better way to store and access patient information. Balancing their time to care for their patients while also writing code, each doctor put idea into action to bring electronic medical records to life.
After years of fine-tuning, Dr. Jim Kavanagh, Dr. Brendan Byrne and Dr. Michel Hébert, now TELUS Health team members, built three platforms for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) now used by thousands of physicians in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
1981: Jim Kavanagh creates PS Suite
With both a medical degree and a degree in mathematics and computer science, Jim Kavanagh knew he could enhance patient care by automating his work. In his basement more than 36 years ago, the Cambridge, Ontario physician alongside his wife Barb, started off by programming patient schedules on a computer, which back then was an anomaly.
Realizing more could be done to simplify his day, Jim engineered an EMR solution to optimize his medical practice.
“I became a doctor because I wanted to help others. I knew what was required to provide good care,” says Jim. The EMR I built made things easier and more accurate. Whether I need to pull up a patient’s full history, or understand a prescription’s side effect, it all became possible right in the tool. For me, it’s all about giving the best care possible and technology amplifies the experience.”
What Jim created is known today as PS Suite. His solution has evolved over the years, thanks in large part to program updates by a team of developers which included his son and daughter. TELUS purchased PS Suite in 2013 and today, with more than 41 years of experience as a family doctor and 36 years of practice as an EMR architect, Jim continues to practice medicine and help TELUS Health design EMR programs.
1991: Brendan Byrne brings Wolf to life
Brendan Byrne didn’t have a computer in the early 1990s, but he couldn’t help but notice significant changes happening all around him. The power of information was growing and he was perplexed as to why patient data was sitting unused in charts.
“After I finished my studies at Yale and later med school at McGill, I travelled around British Columbia and couldn’t believe the amount of critical data just sitting idle in patient charts,” says Branden “I felt it was my duty as a doctor to give the best care possible and I couldn’t stop thinking about all that information “I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but after trying my hand at writing some code, I got the hang of it.”
Inspired to keep coding, Brendan ended up designing what we refer to today as the Wolf EMR platform. Scribing notes by hand on paper became a thing of the past. And not just that, he and other doctors were redefining proactive patient care by leveraging data in his EMR tool.
TELUS purchased Wolf in 2012 and Brendan joined the TELUS Health leadership team while remaining a part-time physician in Surrey, B.C. Today, he continues to enjoy the best of both worlds as Chief Innovation Officer and as a family doctor. As founder of Wellness Garage, a precision lifestyle medicine practice, Brendan spends time with close to 100 patients to boost their physical, mental and social well-being.
2000: Michel Hébert designs KinLogix
For Michel Hébert his EMR story goes back 18 years. Going digital was the obvious solution to eliminating tedious paperwork. After sketching out some ideas late one night alongside his wife, Kathleen, in their Quebec City home, the KinLogix EMR idea was conceived.
“I chose to become a doctor because caring for others is part of my DNA. When I first created my first digital patient chart, the excitement was real. I think I called everyone I knew. I was thrilled! My vision to curb manual work became a reality and I was empowering other doctors to do the same. I look back on that time with great pride.”
His homegrown solution gained popularity – doctors throughout the province were taking notice of the flexibility added to their day. What’s more, KinLogix was the first EMR in Quebec to go mobile – no matter where a doctor is, patient information is accessible while on the go. This type of innovation led Michel’s technology to gain major market share, and in 2012, KinLogix EMR joined the TELUS Health portfolio of solutions. Today, Michel offers strategic guidance to the TELUS team as Medical Director while also caring for his patients.
Working in collaboration with each other and their colleagues, Jim, Brendan and Michel are helping TELUS Health advance the next generation of healthcare solutions. The voice of the patient remains at the core of their work and all three say they’re proud of their lasting legacies.
“It’s privilege to have Jim, Brendan and Michel working with us at TELUS. Their innovation set a strong foundation and by building on their progress as we advance our EMR strategy, we’re enabling better experiences for physicians, and in turn, helping create better health outcomes for Canadians,” says Paul Lepage, President, TELUS Health and Payment Solutions.
Does stress have to be an inevitable part of life?
Have you heard people, or even yourself say, “I’m not sick but I am not well either”? So many of us are overwhelmed, exhausted, in pain and lack joy as a result of excess stress. But stress is an inevitable part of living so something we just need to accept right? Wrong! It is not mandatory though some stress is in fact, helpful in challenging us to move forward and achieve!
What are the effects of stress on the body?
Stress has a powerful biochemical effect on us and has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression and autoimmune diseases to name a few. Effective stress management skills can prevent stress related illness and improve our quality of life!
Can we manage excess stress and make it work for us instead of against us?
There are powerful and proven mindbody strategies for becoming the “boss” of our stress. The kind that create health instead of disease.
Here are some powerful tools to start:
Has what we have learned about stress from our past helped us?
Many of us learned how to handle stress by watching significant role models in our lives; parents, other adults, siblings and friends. Some of what we learned is harmful like drinking to excess as our father did or hitting someone as our mother did. These strategies cause us more distress (as well as others!). Alternately, we may have learned that going for a run helped a friend or that seeing a counselor helped a sister. We default to what works or what is easy, when we are in crisis. Having tools at your disposal that work, are easy and enhance health, will transform your life!
How can I prevent stress from having a harmful impact on my life?
One of the best things about learning these practical strategies is that they are both the treatment AND the prevention. In other words, they not only help us recover from the effects of excess stress but also PREVENT the harmful effects of stressful experiences in our lives! Prevention is the key to reversing the stress epidemic in North America. And if you don’t think we are dealing with an epidemic, consider the fact that stress leaves are costing Canadian businesses over $50 billion/year. We need an intervention and it starts with you and I.
What would happen to your organization if 20% of your employees either did not show up for work or were not feeling at their best while at work?
1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year, every year. Consider for a moment your own workplace. If 1 in 5 employees is suffering from a mental illness, what is that costing your company in lost productivity and short-term absences?
We all have a bad day every so often; the kind of day where nothing goes right or you just don't "feel" productive. There's nothing wrong with having a bad day. But when every day starts to be a bad day, that's not such a good thing. And, it's not good for business.
What do you mean when you say it is not good for business? What are the ‘real’ costs?
The statistics below show us clearly the impact of stress and mental illness on the corporate bottom line. Left unaddressed, these types of statistics will continue to grow.
Because lifestyle factors are modifiable and resilience skills can be developed, the burden of workplace costs related to stress or mental health problems can be slowed or even lowered.
Why is it important for leaders to embrace their own mental health?
Leadership is about being accountable to yourself and to others. Consider the last time you flew on an airline. In the unlikely event of cabin decompression, all passengers are instructed to don their own oxygen mask before aiding the person sitting beside them, even if that person is a child. In other words, you are no good to anyone else if you are unconscious.
The same holds true for the mental health of a leader regardless of your role in the organization.
By taking care of yourself, you can take care of others. By taking care of yourself, you can influence others to do the same. By taking care of yourself, you can better lead others and make wiser decisions for the business.
What can you do to take charge of how well you cope with the demands of work and life?
Can a one day seminar or conference really make a difference?
Embrace the power of one idea! Sometimes we sabotage our own progress by making things more complicated than they need to be. The late Steve Jobs embraced the simple idea of a walk as a means to clear his head and approach challenges from a different perspective. Imagine how many ideas you can be exposed to by placing yourself (and your team) in an environment where the collective purpose is to discover ways of becoming better leaders!
When Susan Kuz was introduced at a recent happiness workshop, she began by tackling one of the first questions she’s usually asked – how do you pronounce her business’ name Being Pukka?
“So it’s pronounced being puck-ka. It actually comes from a Hindu word and it means to be authentic, highest quality, genuine,” said Kuz.
Kuz has worked as a positivity practitioner and coach for eight years, helping individuals and corporate clients create positive change. After 25 years working in public and private corporations, Kuz decided she to pursue her calling when circumstances and a clear need coalesced.
"This has always been an area I’ve been interested in – since I was a teenager reading my first personal development book…. As I went through corporate life, I saw there was a need for this kind of mental wellness work."
“I combined my passion with my corporate life. Just for fun I’d create workshops, discussions, I’d coach people because I had a passion for it. But a number of years ago I was downsized and I thought, well, now’s the time. I’m going to jump in with both feet. At the same time I came across more in depth training in the area, which gave me a stronger knowledge base than I had. Being Pukka evolved from that.”
Kuz used her seminar as an opportunity to discuss the impact happiness has on success in all areas in life with the people who attended.
“We had 12 things that they could do to immediately increase their happiness and they took away a short list for themselves that resonated with their lifestyle and the difference that it could make most immediately for them,” said Kuz, who draws on the work of happiness researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky as well as others studying positive psychology.
Maintaining relationships, showing gratitude, and setting goals were some of the topics that she touched on.
The seminar was a good networking opportunity for Kuz, and she left her contact information for anyone who wanted to work with her to dive deeper into the program. Staying on top of business networking can requires a strong commitment - especially for independent entrepreneurs. Kuz says that while she runs Being Pukka by herself, she turns to a much wider support circle to keep motivated."
“I have a mentor from my field who is tremendously motivating. He helps me to become clearer in my direction,” Kuz says. “He helps me keeps things simple and less cluttered, as opposed to always pursuing the newest idea in the field.”
“I also meet with people in the same field at conferences or through continuous learning events online around the U.S. or Australia or anywhere in the world. I find those ‘coffee discussions’ incredibly motivating, hearing from people who are doing similar things in the positive psychology realm.”
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is also part of Kuz’s network, which she joined shortly after starting Being Pukka in 2015. “I really enjoyed the environment – especially the people there,” said Kuz. “That was the part I really loved – being connected to other business owners and people growing their businesses – and who are also coming there to meet other people and learn.”
Kuz said the best part of her job is helping people and hearing about the positive impacts her messages has on them personally and professionally.
“I’d worked with a gal who was a small business owner at the time,” Kuz says. “Her questions at the time were how to develop a work-life balance – because she was busy with her business but she also had a very young family.
“She came back to me months later so happy for the clarity on what was most important to her. Our work together helped her make decisions that enabled her to be so happy not just in her business, but in her personal life.”
Prepared for The Winnipeg Chamber by Amanda Emms, a Red River College Creative Communications student.
While most people know "investing in their health" is a worthwhile pursuit, the exact actions they need to take may be murky. We caught up with Dr. Dimitrios Balageorge - orthopedic surgeon and driving force behind Winnipeg's Prota Clinic - on how an executive health assessment can help chart a road map for better health.
The Winnipeg Chamber: Who is an executive health assessment designed for? Is this only for CEOs?
Dr. Dimitrios Balageorge: Executive Health Assessments are no longer intended just for executives. Executive assessments can be performed on any individual interested in knowing more about their health. It is intended to assist people in taking on a proactive role in regards to their health. This is an uninsured service.
An Executive Health assessment provides a thorough health screening process to identify active medical issues, latent medical issues as well as identifying risk factors to one's health.
WC: What’s involved?
DB: The process involves a multitude of Health Specialists' assessments, imaging, blood testing, urine testing, EKG and a body composition assessment. All the results of testing along with the opinions of Health Specialists are consolidated to create a thorough summary of an individual's health. Along with the findings, recommendations are generated, which are intended to improve a person's health as well as longevity.
WC: How much certainty can you have when looking at risk factors for future illness?
DB: Tests provide for a very thorough screening process that can reveal pathology and risk factors. The recommendations generated are based on solid scientific evidence that are proven to make a difference in health and we use guidelines that have been universally accepted by the medical community that are generated by health experts in their field. This is why the screening process and recommendations can help to improve one's health and minimize Illnesses.
WC: What success stories have you had from clients changing their lifestyles following an assessment?
DB: As a result of our process, our clients very frequently change their lifestyles to one more conducive to a longer and healthier lifestyle. The process has also led to an adjustment or institution of new medical treatment as a result of our findings.
We have seen improved health in almost all our clients from better diets, sleeping habits and exercise. Follow up testing with the in-body, for example, has objectively proven this. Our screening process also has identified pathology that was life threatening and undetected or revealed profound illnesses that had gone undiagnosed. Medical treatment was initiated as a result.
Should people be concerned a company would use this information to make a hiring decision?
The results of our Executive health screening process are highly confidential as are the identity of our clients. The information is securely stored and not accessible. The results are the property of clients who pay for the product. Any information generated by the assessment can only be provided to others at the discretion of the paying clients.
WC: What experience does your team bring to the table?
DB: Our staff are highly qualified and were recruited to join the clinic as a result of their credentials and reputations. They have not only shown an ability in their field of expertise but also have demonstrated a capacity to listen and respond to people's concerns with compassion and clarity.
WC: What kind of feedback do you get after an executive health assessment?
DB: Most people feel we not only meet but exceed their expectations. That’s very satisfying. These are clients who have gone to other places in the United States and Canada and have had similar assessments and feel they no longer have to leave Winnipeg to receive a high-quality product.
The Winnipeg Chamber: The Bell Let's Talk campaign has shared so many stories. Is there one that has stuck with you personally?
Mary Deacon: I honestly can’t choose just one story. I think what has stuck with me the most overall is just how important and high profile mental health has become in Canada.
I’ve been part of the mental health community for close to 20 years and longer if you consider its impact on my own family, going back to when we lost my brother David to depression and suicide in 1991. Based on what I’ve heard and what people tell me, mental health is finally an issue whose time has come.
Talking about mental health, caring about mental health, expecting mental health services to be on par with physical health services is all becoming a bigger part of the conversation in this country. It is an issue on the nation’s agenda, and our voices are only getting louder and louder.
WC: How do you and your team choose priorities given the immensity of the campaign and your goal?
MD: For Bell Let’s Talk Day our goal has remained the same since the beginning: to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, together with our many mental health partners across the country.
There has never been more interest or discussion about the topic of mental health and that is a great thing. As more people become engaged and passionate it will become a higher priority for action, in our workplaces, schools and our country as a whole.
Reaching young people is very important – we know from our research that young people really care about mental health, and we also know that the need for supports and services is great. Today’s youth will be Canada’s future leaders and we have the potential for that generation to grow up to be free of the stigma surrounding mental health. We can all learn from their passion and their stories to create a more compassionate, inclusive Canada.
WC: How do you see the campaign evolving in future years?
MD: Each year the campaign evolves based on feedback we receive from a wide range of partners. This year there was a fundamental shift in our awareness campaign, putting a focus of the stories of Canadians from all walks of life, all ages and truly representing the diversity of our country, including Andi Sharma and Michael Redhead Champagne from Winnipeg. For me, this shift is profound and timely, with people we might know in our own lives, we might run into in the coffee shop, the class room and in our workplaces.
WC: What do you want attendees to take away from your keynote at the CMHR on January 24?
MD: That mental illness impacts us all.
That we can all play a role, including helping to eradicate stigma and being proactive in implementing workplace mental health practices.
That participating in Bell Let’s Talk Day is a great way to both show your support for this often silent and invisible yet common health issue and, by doing so, drive Bell donations to Canadian mental health.
On January 31, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of these interactions, at no extra cost to participants:
You can also learn more about the five simple ways to end stigma and download the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit to begin your own conversation about mental health at home, school or in the workplace.
Join us as we work together to break down the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
The Winnipeg Chamber: Why did you start Green Carrot Juice Company?
Ibrahim "Obby" Khan: I started it for various reasons. Juicing literally saved my life and football career when I was battling, Ulcerative Colitis in 2008 – a story I’ll share at the MeetUp. I love juicing at home. It’s a great way to get nutrients, vitamins and minerals into my body.
I also saw the health trend was headed towards Cold Pressed Juicing. Plus it tastes awesome. When else are you going to eat 3 lbs of Kale?
WC: How did you come up with the recipes? Any favourites?
IK: It’s lots of trial and error, lots of research and lots of sampling with friends and family.
My favourites are the green ones. They give you the most bang for your buck, nutrient wise:
WC: How do you juggle so many locations?
IK: With a great staff and systems. We are getting better every day but I have a great team to lean on.
WC: What’s the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
IK: It never ever stops, there is a ton of stress and not enough time in the day.
WC: The best part?
IK: I am working for myself and building something that I want and is my vision.
WC: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received about your juices?
IK: “They taste amazing and I feel so good when I drink them.”
WC: How do you explain the name to people?
IK: There is no such thing as a green carrot except in Winnipeg at our three locations: 132 Osborne St, 2090 Corydon Avenue and the Winnipeg Airport - with more Green Carrots to pop up soon!
UPDATE: This event is now sold out. We invite you to register early for upcoming Member MeetUps.