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NexJ Connected Wellness presented at eHealth 2017 by Dr. Noah Wayne

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Every year, researchers and experts who work at the intersection of technology and healthcare gather at the annual eHealth Conference and Trade Show. This year, the conference is being held June 4th-7th in Toronto with over 1500 delegates expected to attend. Several speakers are presenting on their research and projects that use NexJ Connected Wellness as a patient engagement and virtual care tool. Speakers include Dr. Paul Ritvo, who will be discussing the youth mental health project at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) that is funded by the Federal Development Agency of Southern Ontario and is using NexJ Connected Wellness to deliver a structured Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program. As well, Helena van Ryn of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI), will be sharing her perspective on using NexJ Connected Wellness as a tool to provide virtual cardiac rehab to recovering cardiac patients.

Noah Wayne, NexJ Health’s Director of Behavioural Health will also give a talk entitled “Health Coaching in the Cloud: Results from Multiple Studies”. We sat down with Dr. Wayne to discuss his areas of expertise, his presentation, and what he hopes to achieve at the conference.

Q: Your presentation highlights the results of several of your research studies. What is your research background?

My PhD at York University was done in collaboration with NexJ. I coordinated a series of clinical trials at the Black Creek Community Health Centre, working with people with type 2 diabetes that were having trouble keeping their blood glucose within target. With a team of health coaches, we coached them using NexJ Connected Wellness to exercise regularly, eat well, and manage their stress. Over five years, we worked with hundreds of community members, published 4 papers, and created a sustainable clinical exercise program that continues to serve the community today. The first published paper was a pilot study using the very first version of NexJ Connected Wellness with a group of people with type 2 diabetes, and just me as a health coach.

That trial lead to new funding and we put together a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), again at Black Creek CHC, this time comparing two participant groups. Each group received health coaching, but only one group had access to the NexJ Connected Wellness platform to track their behaviours and communicate with their health coach. We found that the participants who used the platform achieved a significant reduction in their glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), our primary measure for type 2 diabetes management, in 3 months, whereas those with just health coaching took 6 months to get to the same level.

That paper spawned two other published papers. The first was a qualitative paper where we asked participants who used NexJ Connected Wellness about their lived experience, and then a second paper, where we looked at the usage patterns of behavior trackers, including the photo food journal, glucose, and  exercise trackers, and how usage of these trackers was connected with the patient’s reduction in HbA1c.

Q: What will you be discussing in your presentation?

The presentation will cover a little bit of what I cover in my TED talk (Watch Dr. Wayne’s 2014 TEDxYorkU presentation here).

Overall, the studies I mention were done in a stage based model, from the pilot to the RCT, then from the RCT to the analytics of the software, and then people’s lived experiences using the software.

My presentation at eHealth is a 15 minute summary of that entire experience.

Q: What is the main message you hope to convey in your presentation?

The main message is that the exploration of using technology to improve people’s health has to be evaluated using multiple forms of inquiry, from research design methodologies, to lived experience, to analytics, and potentially things we haven’t even thought of yet, but primarily, that understanding the effect of eHealth and actually driving behavior change must be looked at in a variety of ways. And from what we have experienced from our research, it’s not the software alone that achieves results. It’s the software in collaboration with a human being. Relying on automated messaging and autonomous use with software usually results in people ceasing to use it.

Q: Can you also share an overview of what Dr. Ritvo will be speaking on?

Dr. Ritvo will be presenting on the new trial starting at CAMH in Toronto where we are using NexJ Connected Wellness to supplement a mental health coaching intervention for aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth on the waiting list for treatment for diagnosed psychiatric disorders. There’s an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy protocol being delivered through NexJ Connected Wellness as a part of the trial, as well as a heavy focus on the practice of mindfulness and exercise. This is a revolutionary trial, potentially laying a new standard to how we approach caring for young adults suffering from depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders.

Q: Finally, what do you hope to take away from the e-Health conference?

I want to learn about all the amazing things other people are doing in the field of eHealth, and to make sure we share with as many people as possible about the ground breaking work we’re doing here at NexJ Health.

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Noah Wayne, PhD, RKin will be speaking on Monday, June 5th at 4:45pm in Room 203CD in the “Advancing Frameworks for Patient Engagement” block.

Helena van Ryn will be presenting on Monday, June 5th at 4:30pm in room 205B in the “Virtual and Mobile Technologies in the Home” block.

Paul Ritvo, PhD, Psych will be presenting on Wednesday, June 7th at 11:00am in Room 201CD in the “Evolving Approaches to Patient Care” block.