Ed Brown named a transformational
TORONTO – Dr. Ed
Brown (pictured) has been named one of 25 transformational living
Canadians in a special celebration of citizens who are making an impact
on the nation and the world beyond. The program has been organized by
the Globe and Mail, CTV and Cyberpresse.
Dr. Brown, an emergency physician and a former software developer, is
the driving force behind the creation and development of the Ontario
Telemedicine Network, a system that uses two-way video and diagnostic
equipment to deliver clinical care from specialists, often in urban
centres, to patients in remote areas of the province.
As well, the network provides rural physicians with education and
training that keeps their skills up to date.
Likely the world’s biggest and busiest, Ontario’s telemedicine network
has 180 staff and more than 1,100 sites where the services can be
accessed. Last year, some 3,200 healthcare professionals accessed it,
tallying 102,000 patient events. Meanwhile, 360,000 practitioners and
administrators turned to the network for education.
Dr. Brown, who says he went into medicine because it’s about people,
explains that the network makes life better for many patients. “The
low-hanging fruit for us was folks in the northern and rural areas who
[otherwise] have to travel, leave their families, leave their jobs, who
often can’t bring their families, so they’re facing a diagnosis on their
Almost every week, Dr. Brown says, international visitors show up at the
network’s offices. “There are a lot of telemedicine programs all over
the world, but what we’ve done is found a way to make this practical and
to make it work in a more scalable way so that it can actually become
part of the health-care system.”
The telemedicine network had humble beginnings. After securing funding
from the Ontario Medical Association for a feasibility study, Dr. Brown
spent what he describes as several years in the wilderness, drafting a
plan on evenings and weekends.
With funding from several hospitals and a matching grant from the
Ontario government – which now provides the organization’s base funding
– Dr. Brown launched a pilot project called NORTH Network in 1998. It
then expanded across most of Northern Ontario. Then in 2006, the
provincial government worked with it and the province’s two other
telemedicine networks to create OTN.
To supplement its traditional telemedicine, the network recently added a
feature that allows physicians to electronically share images of
injuries and conditions. It also launched a program in which chronically
ill patients receive remote monitoring equipment.
Dr. Brown says the network has a long way to go, given that just 10
percent of the province’s specialist physicians use it. “We are big and
busy, but we’re not mainstream yet,” he admits. “We’d like to make this
part of everyday practice.”
Winners of the Transformational Canadians program were determined by a
panel of six judges; nominations were accepted from Canadians across the
country. The exclusive sponsor of the program is Cisco Canada. Driving
the program as the exclusive sponsor is Cisco Canada. Willa Black, Cisco
Canada’s vice-president, corporate affairs says that for her
organization, recognizing 25 people who exemplify the best of Canadian
values is a meaningful way to celebrate Cisco’s 25th anniversary.
In recognition of the 25 Transformational Canadians’ efforts, Cisco will
donate up to $25,000 worth of technology to the non-profit or charitable
organization of each winner’s choice. The technology will be donated in
partnership with Allstream.
Judge Seamus O’Regan was quick to lend a hand to the project. “I’m
delighted to be involved in this because it gives us an opportunity to
tell the stories of these transformational Canadians,” says Mr. O’Regan,
co-host of CTV’s Canada AM. “What we want to do is inspire others, both
of this generation and the next.”
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Posted December 16, 2010