Baycrest hosts international
Last month, the International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA)
delivered its first live, international telehealth videoconference on
mental health challenges for the elderly. The session was broadcast to
medical colleagues in four time zones around the world.
The new IPA Learning Portal was broadcast from the telehealth suites of
Toronto’s Baycrest, an internationally respected academic health
sciences centre known for its expertise in brain functioning and mental
health of aging adults. Joining Canada in the “virtual” meeting were
medical professionals in Argentina, Brazil, Ireland and Romania.
In his opening greetings from Canada, IPA president Dr. Joel Sadavoy
told the 350 participants from all five countries that the event was not
only a first for his association, but the “first of its kind for
The four-hour program focused on “Clinical Dilemmas: The Behavioural and
Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD)”. Two complex patient cases
were presented to the international audience, followed by questions and
discussion about diagnosis and treatment.
“It’s wonderful to have diverse perspectives from around the world,”
said Baycrest psychiatrist Dr. Susan Lieff, who presented the second
case study. “We all bring our own unique lenses and see different things
in our cases, so it’s very enriching and informing to have other people
looking at your treatment challenges because inevitably it’s a very
creative process and they come up things that hadn’t occurred to you
There was much work behind the scenes to ramp up for the event and
identify a format and topics that would be most useful to participants.
“When planning the curriculum we devoted 40 percent of the conference
time to interaction and discussion with the international sites,” said
Dr. David Conn, chair of the IPA Task Force that organized the event and
psychiatrist-in-chief at Baycrest. “We wanted to maximize opportunities
for sharing of experience regarding these clinical dilemmas.”
After the event, Argentina’s Dr. Ricardo Allegri sent an email
applauding the IPA initiative, noting that his country’s top behavioural
neurologist, psychiatrist and geriatrician attended the session. “All
were surprised by the (videoconferencing) technology and a lot of people
have asked me about the next meeting,” he wrote.
While virtual educational rounds will never completely replace
person-to-person meetings, rising travel costs and immigration concerns
in the post 9/11 world make videoconferencing an attractive option, said
one of the keynote speakers during a break in the session.
“It’s a cost effective way of conveying information to large numbers of
professionals the world over…and I think you’re going to see more of
these events in the future,” predicted Dr. Sanford Finkel, clinical
professor of psychiatry, University of Chicago Medical School, and past
president of the IPA. He delivered an overview of BPSD to set the stage
for the case presentations.
The collegial sharing of knowledge among top minds around the world in
virtual educational forums is a sign of the times. Recognizing the
growing market in e-health, Baycrest has developed a recognized
expertise in the production of educational events which can be
transmitted internationally via interactive videoconference.
“Providing the technology platform to enable these virtual educational
sessions to happen fulfills our mandate of sharing knowledge and
expertise with the world,” said Tim Patterson, Baycrest’s telehealth
coordinator. “It’s also our social responsibility.”
The conference was organized by a Task Force of the IPA which included
Drs. Conn, Chair (Canada), Ricardo Allegri (Argentina), Susan Lieff
(Canada), João Machado (Brazil), Greg Swanwick (Ireland), Nicoleta
Tataru (Romania); and Tim Patterson (Baycrest telehealth coordinator)
and Susan Oster (IPA Secretariat).
Baycrest is one of the world’s premier academic health sciences centers
focused on aging. Through its strengths in research and education,
Baycrest is using the power of inquiry and discovery to improve the
health of tomorrow’s elderly while at the same time care for and enhance
the quality of life of the elderly today.
Baycrest provides care and service to approximately 2,000 people a day
through the Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System which includes a
unique continuum of care from wellness programs residential housing and
outpatient clinics, to a 472-bed nursing home, and a 300- bed complex
continuing care hospital facility with an acute care unit.