Drug Reaction and Patient Safety to be Focus of Upcoming ‘WARM’ Summit, Workshop on Adverse Response Monitoring

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Multi-disciplinary panel of leaders from Health Canada, along with experts from medicine science, engineering and business, to address the nature and causality of adverse responses to drugs. KEY RELATED POINTS: The aging population, many are being diagnosed with long-term and chronic diseases, and are subsequently using multiple medications | Chronic disease (among all populations) accounts for approximately 75% of the annual health care spend in North America with diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders making up the majority. | A doctor shortage problem (because of baby boomer retirement and a short supply of doctors) appears to be growing throughout Canada, parts of the U.S. and Europe and other parts of the world.

Engineering shares with medicine a commitment to improve quality of life while putting safety first, and that's why the IEEE is organizing this workshop. On this common ground, we will seek to work out the differences and identify the cross-cutting technologies that can bridge the gap between physical and physiological safety systems

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The WARM Summit, a Canadian-led, international initiative to improve patient safety, is taking place in Ottawa on February 21 – 22, 2008. With the focus on health risks from taking prescribed medications, the workshop will bring together experts from medicine, science, engineering, business and government to find objective methods of measuring patient responses to medications and to develop standards for adverse response measurement and analysis. The panel will produce a report and recommendations to improve patient safety and to help optimize the efficacy of medication.

Organized by the Ottawa Section of IEEE, the workshop will feature representatives from Ottawa Heart Institute, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratories, the University of Toronto, and European Federation of Medical Informatics, and delegates from Health Canada, among others. In addition, the workshop is sponsored by the healthcare divisions of IBM and TELUS, along with Emergis (a TELUS company focused on health information management).

"Engineering shares with medicine a commitment to improve quality of life while putting safety first, and that's why the IEEE is organizing this workshop. On this common ground, we will seek to work out the differences and identify the cross-cutting technologies that can bridge the gap between physical and physiological safety systems," said Dr. Wahab Almuhtadi, IEEE Ottawa Section Chair.

Drug adverse responses need better standards for monitoring and reporting:

“Despite the well-known risks associated with using prescription drugs, medication errors and adverse reactions are still poorly understood and recorded. Given these risks, we need to develop objective methods for monitoring an individual’s response to treatment,” said George Mihalas, President of the European Federation of Medical Informatics.

Although in Canada (outside of Quebec), between 2006 – 2007, there were over 45,000 adverse reactions to medication reported – or approximately 22 of every 1000 people were hospitalized due to drug reactions – there is still no standardized method to monitor and report these reactions.

Most medications today are administered by patients at home, without supervision, and in the absence of systems to manage and track adverse drug responses. Many patients experience complications from prescribed drugs – often severe – adding to the challenges of managing chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

“Is this treatment working for me? That is the question in health care. Without a precise answer to this question, knowing what’s going on with a patient imposes unbearable costs of cognition, communication, coordination, and capability. Personal health monitoring systems are needed to help answer this question efficiently and therefore enable the provision of safe, high-quality care for all,” said Dr. Radu Leca, President of Biosign Technologies Inc.

A demonstration of how technology can help:

As part of the WARM Summit, technologies to be demonstrated include a telematic health information system for monitoring responses to frequently prescribed drugs. The system, developed by Biosign, leverages established technologies to assess a patient’s response to treatment and the need to adjust treatment accordingly. Its networking and communication facilities are being tested on TELUS and IBM platforms.

“IBM supports and applauds this initiative, which addresses challenging questions in the quest for high-quality healthcare. Ensuring that people are not harmed by medication is not an option, but the first condition of quality care. That’s why we are working closely with TELUS and Biosign to offer a prescription for action,” said Sal Causi, IBM Healthcare’s Business Development Executive.

"TELUS is pleased to support this IEEE workshop's goal of improving patient safety through the use of technology. This is an extension of our ongoing collaboration with IBM and Biosign. The strategy to commoditize self care and remote monitoring is critical as we move toward next-generation healthcare," said Ibrahim Gedeon, TELUS' Chief Technology Officer.

The WARM Summit will take place at Nepean Centrepointe, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, Ontario Canada. The Summit begins at 8:00am EST on Thursday February 21st and runs until 6:30pm EST on February 22nd.

More information is available at http://ottawa.ieee.ca/ims/warm2008/index.htm
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY OR FOR MEDIA TO ATTEND:
Kathryn Schwab
PRceptive Communications Inc.
Phone: (613) 858-4407
Email: kschwab@prceptive.com

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