Ottawa hospital brings EHR to bedside
OTTAWA – Select
Start Studios, an Ottawa-based software development company launched by
three recent graduates of Carleton University, has won a contract to
create EHR applications for iPads at the Ottawa Hospital. (Pictured:
Joshua Tessier, left, Adam McNamara, centre, and Tariq Zaid of Select
Earlier this year, the Ottawa Hospital announced that it would become a
major adopter of Apple iPads for clinical purposes and would order 1,800
of them by the end of 2011.
The iPad applications are intended to provide the hospital’s healthcare
professionals with instant access to patient records. The partners said
the agreement firmly establishes Select Start Studios and the Ottawa
Hospital as innovators in Canadian healthcare technology.
“The fact that I can walk around with all of my patient charts in my
hand, see them where I am, makes a huge difference,” said Dr. Alan
Forster, a staff physician and the hospital’s scientific director of
clinical quality and performance management.
In early 2010, the Ottawa Hospital announced that it would revolutionize
access to information in its facilities. Dale Potter, the Hospital’s
CIO, questioned why doctors are required to print stacks of patient
charts before making their daily rounds with a clipboard in hand
The hospital evaluated a number of products designed at making their
patient information mobile. After rejecting vendors’ solutions, they
decided to create their own.
The hospital turned to Select Start’s team of mobile experts with a
complex problem. They needed a solution to provide access to millions of
patient records while being intuitive enough for all doctors to use. The
application had to be secure and protect sensitive patient information.
Most importantly, the solution had to be easily extensible for many new
features in the future.
Select Start was given a very challenging task. Within 60 days, the team
was to design, develop and test an iPad application that gives
healthcare professionals access to nearly all of a patients’ information
– including past visits, allergies, medications, test results and lab
Select Start analyzed the existing electronic medical record system in
use at the hospital. The company conducted a usability review of the
system and found many opportunities for improvement. According to the
company, “Not only could we provide healthcare professionals with mobile
access to patient data, but we could do it in a much more intuitive and
The Ottawa Hospital is an example of a large organization adopting a
technology with which many staff members are already familiar. Users are
able to explore the application as naturally as they would an
application designed by Apple for the iPad. This familiarity reduces the
learning curve and provides staff with the best possible performance and
Select Start and the partners expect to obtain many benefits with the
• Healthcare professionals will have access to the most current patient
• It will bring doctors and nurses closer to the bedside.
• More efficient rounds on the hospital floor.
• Reduced resource consumption with electronic records.
“We worked closely with the hospital to turn what is typically a
consumer product into a solution for the hospital’s staff and patients,”
Adam McNamara, 25, a co-founder of Select Start Studios, told the Ottawa
Citizen. “The goal is to improve the doctor-patient experience while
allowing the hospital to operate more efficiently.”
While working with hospital staff, McNamara and the other co-founders,
Tariq Zaid, 29, and Joshua Tessier, 24, realized the extent of the
opportunities to apply mobile software to patient care.
“Electronic health records are just the beginning,” said Zaid. “We have
an incredible opportunity to bring functions like explaining an MRI or
ordering a prescription to the bedside.”
The three business partners started the company before they even
graduated, having worked on iPhone games in their spare time toward the
end of their computer science studies. It wasn’t long before they were
ramping up business.
“Generally half of our time was spent developing mobile apps for
customers, and half was spent doing work for ourselves,” said McNamara.
Their apps ranged from a large mobile app suite for Entrust to games
such as Arrow. This summer, they developed an iPhone app for the Cisco
Posted November 18, 2010