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A web-based app to help patients see in seconds where they are in their evaluation process for a kidney transplant has won this year's Dragons' Den competition in the Multi-Organ Transplant Program Student Research Training Program (MOTSRTP).
The team expects their app, which can also be used on a Smart phone, to be pilot-tested by staff and patients within the next few months.
The nine-member student team was chosen by the transplant program audience after battling it out with another team who presented an interactive web information hub for those interested in learning more about kidney transplants.
The winners received a plaque and year-long championship "bragging rights."
"It's refreshing to hear the innovative ideas of students who go beyond conventional approaches," says Dr. Joe Kim, Co-Director of the Kidney Transplant Program.
Dragons' Den: innovation amongst students
"Creating an online patient portal will empower our patients to manage their own heath, and help them become our 'Partners in Care' – one of the major goals at UHN."
My Kidney Path, the winning project, aims to improve the kidney transplant evaluation process by decreasing the time for patients from referral to listing for transplant. Typically, patients can spend from six to 12 months in this pre-transplant phase, with this project aiming to cut this time by half.
This in turn would allow the program to do more kidney transplants each year. At present, the program does approximately 160 transplant annually.
The team mapped out a new and cost-effective way of standardizing the process in which patient information is entered into and displayed in the transplant data system. This would help both staff and patients get at-a-glance reports and pinpoint exactly what still needs to be done to complete an assessment. Automatic updates can also be generated, along with explanations of tests and medical terms.
"Patients can be more involved and motivated in their own care if they have the information they need at their fingertips," says team lead Franz Marie Gumabay, a research assistant in the Student Research Training Program. "We want to make it easy for patients."
Begun in 2011, the annual Dragons' Den competition in Healthcare Innovation gives students at various levels – from high school to graduate students - opportunities to work as a team to develop research projects with staff and patients and other organizations that significantly improve the experience of patients in the Multi-Organ Transplant Program. Students must apply to the Research Training Program.
Supervised by Segun Famure, Co-Director of the MOTSRTP, both projects this year were so well received by staff they will continue after the competition. Both developed innovative ways in which to engage and educate patients about the benefits of receiving a kidney transplant from the Multi Organ Transplant Program at TGH.
The Kidney Path project was developed as part of a Master's Research Project by Sonia Seto, a student in the Biomedical Communications Program at the University of Toronto.