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U of T student wins Canada Health Innovation Challenge

Faculty of Arts and Science student Galina Gheihman (Photo courtesy of Galina Gheihman)

Galina Gheihman, a second-year Victoria College student, has been named a winner in the Health Council of Canada’s annual Health Innovation Challenge.

The competition asks college and university students to identify an example of an innovative policy and practice in Canadian health care and describe how it could be applied to the rest of the country.

“Being selected as a winner was an unexpected but welcome surprise,” said Gheihman, who is a working on a double major in physiology and neuroscience, with a minor in Buddhism, psychology and mental health.  “I feel very privileged to represent the many dedicated and engaged students across the country who submitted their work to the contest.”

Gheihman’s winning essay describes Ontario’s remote drug dispensing policy as an improvement in prescription access in remote, rural and northern communities. Her paper discusses how a policy amendment to the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act approved by the Ontario government in early 2011 is changing healthcare practice, outcomes, and perceptions. Partnering with Patient Care Automation Services Inc., the province has allowed the use of automated remote drug dispensing technology without the physical presence of an onsite pharmacist. PharmaTrust MedCentre, a fully automated, pharmacist-controlled prescription medication remote dispensing unit, the first to receive accreditation under the new guidelines, is now being dispatched to remote communities across the province.

The made-in-Ontario technology integrates prescription scanning and identification, patient-pharmacist teleconferencing, and automated drug dispensing into a single portable kiosk, making the vision of 24/7 access to face-to-face pharmacist consultations and prescription medications possible even in the most remote Canadian communities.

“Through this innovative policy, Ontario has demonstrated its commitment to bringing safe, reliable, and cost-effective pharmacy services to its remotest communities and to continually improving health care access in the north,” wrote Gheihman.  “This policy will not only redefine the future of health care access in the province, but possibly throughout remote, rural, and northern communities across Canada.”

“These students represent the future of health care in Canada. We think it’s extremely important to engage youth in health care renewal and encourage them to learn from innovative practices and policies that are working,” said John G. Abbott, chief executive officer of Health Council of Canada.

Over 220 students across Canada submitted essays explaining what they think could change the future of health care in Canada. Each winner receives $1,000 and the chance to apply for a summer internship at the Health Council of Canada office in Toronto, Ontario. The Health Council of Canada is an independent national agency that reports on the progress of health care renewal.