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Women’s College clinician-scientist selected for prestigious fellowship in health services research

July  29, 2015

 Dr. Onil BhattacharyyaCongratulations to Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya – Frigon-Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) physician and senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute – for receiving a prestigious Commonwealth Fund/CFHI Harkness Fellowship in Health Care Policy and Practice.

Established by The Commonwealth Fund in 1925, the Harkness Fellowships are a unique opportunity for mid-career health services researchers and practitioners from various countries to spend up to a year in the U.S. During this year, fellows conduct original research and work with leading health policy experts.

“Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya is a brilliant, passionate, forward-thinking family physician and researcher,” says Dr. Ruth Heisey, chief of family and community medicine at WCH.  “He brings a collaborative approach, experience working with leaders across Canada and the United States, and a deep understanding of the potential for information technology to engage patients and how incubators can facilitate that engagement. These strengths make him well positioned to create meaningful change in the health of our population.”

Dr. Bhattacharyya will begin his fellowship in August 2015 at The Commonwealth Fund, where he will conduct research to develop new, patient-centred health information technologies, with a particular focus on patients with complex needs.

Patients with multiple chronic conditions often receive fragmented and inefficient care that costs the Ontario health system billions of dollars every year. Though most health information technologies are not designed with these patients in mind, there is enormous potential to simplify how care is accessed, integrate advice and engage subgroups as partners. There are also opportunities to include information about health status and preferences and use decision support tools to enhance self-management.

One way of advancing health information technology is through the use of incubators. Incubators are commonly used by the technology sector to test and develop good ideas, but health system leaders are now seeing them as a promising approach to healthcare innovation.

“Incubators bring together a mix of perspectives, provide a safe space for exploration, and support a mechanism for rapid iteration to find the best fit between a product or service and a user,” says Dr. Bhattacharyya. “I believe we can also use the concept of incubators in the health sector to find breakthrough opportunities to develop better models of care and leverage information technology in Ontario. We are already doing this at WCH with our Incubator at WIHV.”

The knowledge Dr. Bhattacharyya gains from his fellowship will inform the refinement and creation of health service incubators and provincial initiatives like Better Access and Care for Complex Needs (BEACCON), a CIHR-funded initiative he co-leads. His work as the Frigon-Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research at WCH will continue during his fellowship.

To learn more about Dr. Bhattacharyya’s work, click here.

About the Commonwealth Fund

The Commonwealth Fund, among the first private foundations started by a woman philanthropist – Anna M. Harkness – was established in 1918 with the broad charge to enhance the common good. The mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children and elderly adults. The fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on healthcare issues and making grants to improve healthcare practice and policy. An international program in health policy is designed to stimulate innovative policies and practices in the United States and other industrialized countries.

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