Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (the Hospital) and its research arm, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute, were invited to attend the Northern and Rural Health Research in Canada reception on October 30th in Ottawa. This event is organized by Research Canada, a national, broad-based alliance dedicated to advancing health research through collaborative advocacy. Mr. Bartkowiak will be there to address colleagues in health research, while bringing attention to the patient-centred research at our Hospital and Health Research Institute.
The Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute is distinct. Until very recently, health research facilities of this calibre would be housed in a major metropolitan centre. Our Health Research Institute allows health research to grow in and address the specific needs of a remote and rural environment.
The health of people in northern regions of Canada, including Northwestern Ontario, is compromised due to geographical remoteness, social determinants such as poverty, and insufficient alignment with local cultures. For example, the rate of amputations of Indigenous people in Northwestern Ontario is about three times higher than that of the general population, likely due to delayed diagnosis and difficulty in accessing close to home treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Indeed, our scientists found that Thunder Bay’s size and status as a regional hub have tremendous advantages, particularly access to collaborators. We are able to focus our research to address the health care challenges unique to our region.
Health research in the north is needed to address these challenges, such as how to make health services as accessible as possible for Indigenous people in northern Canada. The Hospital and the Health Research Institute are prioritizing accessibility, partly by leveraging smart (and digitally interactive) health technology such as mobile apps.
Smart health technology research can assist in overcoming several of Northwestern Ontario’s geographical barriers and cultural differences that impact access to care and outcomes. It can help us streamline and improve access to care so that we are able to provide the right care to the right person at the right time, no matter where they live in the region.