Every role at VHA contributes to something amazing. At Home with VHA tells the stories of those who make up VHA Home HealthCare. Meet Vithu Kugathasan, Project Manager.
Describe your role at VHA Home HealthCare (VHA).
My role is Project Lead at VHA. My work initially started with the EMRI Team, working to help coordinate projects and new updates for EMRI to help improve documentation and workflow for all of our service providers. My role now has evolved to help lead the planning and implementation of multiple projects associated with the IT or Information Management departments, including EMRI, virtual care, and external initiatives. Typically, my work involves meeting with stakeholders, gathering requirements, creating project documentation, and helping ensure we have the right things and people in place so that the projects can occur successfully. A lot of projects involve multiple phases that require input from a lot of different people within and outside VHA, and I work to ensure we get the proper input and push things forward to reach our objectives.
How does your role contribute to VHA’S goals and objectives as a whole?
I believe my role helps VHA become more prominent in the digital health space. Whether it be working on new projects funded by the ministry that involve Ontario Health Teams, piloting new solutions, enhancing the way our providers workflow through easier electronic documentation, or virtual care, all of these can contribute to evolving VHA as a leader within the home care sector. All of these new and exciting projects rely on the wonderful collaboration we have across multiple departments, frontline providers, and our client partners – as their voices are critical to ensuring we are on the right track when we try to implement anything new. From my experience, our teams are great at jumping in, figuring things out on the go, and adapting to new changes which is pivotal when trying to improve.
What are some of the exciting projects you are working on lately?
Some of the projects I’m working on includes the virtual care program, North York CARES, and piloting the Swift wound app. The virtual care program at VHA is quite vast, and with the pandemic we’ve had to implement quickly and adapt to new challenges as we see them. It’s been pretty exciting to see it all become implemented so quickly, and now we’re working to optimize the program and improve it wherever possible. We have a large group working on virtual care, however one group I’m working with closely are the Personal Support Care Team Supervisors at VHA. We hope to implement virtual care so that they can conduct their care plan visits virtually through video, which can optimize their interactions with their clients and hopefully gives them flexibility on seeing their clients as they’re incredibly busy.
Another project is implementing virtual care and remote patient monitoring into the NY CARES program – which is a program that is providing wrap around, integrated, personalized home care to very complex clients that would otherwise be in the hospital. The project is led by the North York Toronto Health Partners, and we’ve had great collaboration with our partners to implement virtual care and trial out a remote patient monitoring service. The Swift pilot involves using a digital wound app, that allows a small team of nurses to take pictures of healing wounds, receive automatic measurements/track healing progress, and communicate with physicians. The work being done with these initiatives feels extremely innovative and it’s incredibly exciting to be part of the ride to make these all as successful as possible!
What inspired you to use your IT skills in a home care setting?
I’ve always been interested in healthcare and learning how to integrate new digital technologies or practices within it. While studying health informatics during my master’s program, I was able to learn some nuances on the different sectors of healthcare delivery (including primary care, acute care, and homecare) through volunteering, shadowing opportunities, and presentations. A key issue that I saw was ensuring those who needed help with their health continue to receive it even after those small touch points within medical offices. A lot of individuals need support after their typical healthcare interactions to decrease anxiety, promote better health practices, and improve– and that support is being provided within the homecare sector. To ensure that our healthcare providers can continue to provide this support, I wanted to be able to leverage my skills and knowledge to help improve their workflows and interactions digitally. Other industries (e.g. finance, entertainment) leverage new apps or technology to improve their day-to-day lives, and although healthcare is considered to be “behind” in using similar technologies, I feel that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Any new project is impossible to do alone, and none of the things I’ve worked on would’ve been successful without the inputs of multiple teams/departments, including the EMRI, IT, BPRE, Communications, Quality, Integrated Care, client partners, finance, regional teams, and our frontline providers/supervisors. There are so many aspects of each project that can contribute to their success, and I’m thankful that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with many at VHA who were willing to take on new initiatives, provide support, and adapt to any obstacles that appear.