Altum Health is a department within the University Health Network offering medical treatment and rehabilitation to workers with workplace-related musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. In conjunction with the rest of UHN, Altum aims to provide insightful, patient-oriented, services with the high quality of healthcare associated with UHN and the shortest time to return to work as possible. Altum takes advantage of being a part of UHN by providing the quickest, most effective connections to patients. A patient will be assessed and directed to the appropriate physician as quickly as possible, without unnecessary, intermediary visits. From the physician, the patient can then be directed to the next appropriate steps including, but not limited to, surgery, physiotherapy, or rehabilitation through UHN.
Orthopaedics is the medical study of the treatment of the skeletal system; researching surgical procedures to prevent and correct disorder or injuries of the bones, joints, and associated muscles and ligaments. Like many other chronic medical conditions, skeletal disorders do not develop overnight, nor do they heal in a week. Studies begin before the surgery and continue for many years following it. In many cases, studies in this field last for over fifteen years, constantly updating the medical information. This could mean fifteen years’ worth of patient-reported outcomes to maintain, and changes to track. This was precisely the problem that the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery of UHN faced.
The Osteoporosis Program at UHN offers diagnoses and treatments to those with this progressive metabolic bone disease. However, there cannot be any diagnoses or treatments without knowledge. Research is necessary to identify the condition, the state of development, and the appropriate treatment. UHN leads the research to diagnose the condition as early as possible, track the progress accurately, and optimize the treatment procedures. The Osteoporosis Program at UHN initially started with paper forms to collect the data. After a while, the division did not have enough space to store the information and turned to excel spreadsheets. While it was a simple system to store information, it was not very effective for research purposes. It was very difficult to find specific subjects, organize the information, extract data, and generate statistics; all aspects very crucial to research. In addition, as a multi-centre study, the information collected from one centre needed to be accessible from all other sites. The only method was to use the UHN shared drives, which quickly filled with data, as external databases could not be used due to security reasons. The program needed a user-friendly database that was organized, secure, and could run over multiple collection centres.
Rheumatology is the medical study of the musculoskeletal system, most well-known to the public for treating conditions including, but not limited to, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The Rheumatology Division at UHN is the largest of its kind in Canada and a leader in training a new generation of medical students. Despite leading the field, a problem still existed; due to the nature of the study, precise notes must be taken at each visit to locate the precise locations of pain. Each clinical protocol was several pages long, inquiring about the state of each major joint. Often times, it would be difficult to understand which joint the protocol was asking about; and equally as difficult for the patient to describe the location of the pain and find it in the long protocol. Eventually, the clinical protocols accumulated, filling binders per patient. This also meant that the researchers needed to search through binders of forms to find a specific protocol. Overall, this process was time-consuming and difficult for both the patient and the researchers.