January Innovation – The ECG of the Future

What is Electrocardiography (ECG), and why is it useful? ECG is the interpretation of the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. It is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart.

It sounds like having an ECG could be quite handy, right? Well yes, it would be, but who would want to spend thousands and have a large brick of a device lying around? Look at the size of that thing below, not me!

How about something you can trust to deliver accurate results and slip into your shirt pocket? Now we are talking.

ECG of the future

CardioComm’s new handheld HeartChecktm Pen does just that, it puts the benefits of an ECG in the palm of your hand. You may see hypochondriacs lining up for this device, but its use goes well beyond those who have health obsession on the mind.

The HeartCheck Pen would benefit any person interested in monitoring their health due to heart disease.  It could also be used to determine potential heart disease by assessing abnormal heart rhythms and muscle defects. From athletes to seniors, a wide range of consumers could benefit from this device.

“We feel the HeartCheck Pen is a true remote monitoring device because it is compact, easy to use, and takes accurate heart readings in only 30 seconds. The Pen may be used from anywhere, including at home, the office, the gym or in remote areas which are often inaccessible to common ECG machines,” said Etienne Grima, CardioComm Solutions’ CEO.

The device makes sending and storing ECGs easy. Up to 20 ECGs can be stored on the device, and once you hit that mark you can download the ECGs to your computer and print them off, or save some trees and send them electronically to your doc or clinic. The data can also be downloaded to GEMS™ Home, where repeated recordings can be managed in a personal health data record.

“What makes this product unique,” explained Grima, “is that after a consumer sends a selected heart rate recording to the C4 medical call-center over the internet using GEMS™ Home, the actual ECG recording will be reviewed and interpreted by an attending C4 physician. The ECG report will then be made available to the customer, again through GEM Home, where they may retrieve the ECG interpretation and use it in communicating with their own health care providers.”

The HeartCheck Pen definitely has some interesting advantages over its big brother, but is it something you would use? Take our poll below and tell us your thoughts.

[polldaddy poll=5893102]

For more information on this device, please visit CardioComm

An Innovative Look at Fitness

So, it’s a month past Christmas and if you’re like me you’re still feeling a little sluggish post-eggnog, turkey and chocolate, and perhaps not quite into the habit of those resolutions you made to make fitness a priority in 2012. I’m guessing a lot of people are in the same boat, so this year, Global is inviting its staff into participating in a 90-Day fitness challenge.

innovative fitness

The conversation around implementing some kind of fitness program for our staff came out of an indicator from our staff satisfaction survey that 60% were interested in a fitness initiative of some kind. We spent a lot of time researching the types of things companies are doing to promote fitness in the workplace, and went the gamut on ideas from as simple as offering an annual subsidy to individuals for a fitness initiative (gym membership or equipment, personal trainer, etc.) to signing on to a comprehensive online program that offered biometric screening, customized fitness programs, life-change programs (weight loss, smoking cessation, etc.), online tracking, education, individual health and fitness coaching, etc.

In the end, we decided on a program that was more collaborative and team-oriented than simply offering a lump some of money, and that wouldn’t break the bank with the expensive online programs designed for much larger companies. We found a Vancouver-based company called Innovative Fitness (IF) that has provided the best of both worlds for us.

They will run a 90 Day Challenge in which a beginner and advanced walk/run program are developed for those who want to participate, with the goal being participation in three walk/runs per week, with specified goals in terms of heart rate and length of time, depending on the program level. Staff will submit their daily fitness activities by email to the IF coach, who will track each individual’s progress. Innovative Fitness will also provide weekly education updates and fitness tips and provide individual coaching whenever staff need it to modify their programs (MJ in Fort St. John isn’t likely to do a walk/run at -34). At the beginning of the challenge, the team from IF came to our office to do a biometric assessment of all participants (measuring height/weight, BMI, etc.) to provide a starting point. All activities are tracked according to a points system (so many points for submitting your daily log, plus additional points for every 15 minutes of exercise), and every certain number of points gains an entry to a prize to be drawn at the end of the challenge. In addition, everyone doing the challenge will participate in a fun closing event at the end of the challenge to celebrate the achievement of 90 days of increased physical activity.

innovative fitness

When we first talked about the concept, we had no idea what kind of participation we might expect from our staff. To our surprise, we have 100% participation – even our two staff who work remotely from other locations are participating! We are excited about the impact this initiative will have in each person’s health and life, and are looking forward to swapping war stories along the way.

They say it takes 40 days to develop a new habit – we’re hoping that after more than twice that many days, physical activity will become a part of everyone’s life in a new and exciting way. It’s just another way we are investing in keeping our staff healthy and fit (we also provide fresh fruit and healthy snacks in the office), so they can be at their best at work and in life.

Avian Influenza (H5N1)

Influenza is in the news again as the flu season hits full stride. No, it is not the H1N1 strain that is garnering attention this year, rather the avian influenza (H5N1) strain, which is commonly called the bird flu.

Recently a man in China has died from the H5N1 flu, the first reported human death in 18 months. The death prompted the local government to cull thousands of birds to prevent the spread of the virus. At this time no other cases have been discovered.


What is H5N1?

H5N1 is a particular strain of avian flu that can cause infection in humans, first discovered in Southern China in 1996. Over 300 humans in twelve different countries have died from the H5N1 bird flu.

The majority of H5N1 cases in humans have been due to the handling of infected birds. 60% of those who have been infected with H5N1 have died. The following people have an increased chance of contracting the avian flu:

  • Individuals who breed and handle poultry
  • Travellers visiting infected countries
  • Those who eat undercooked poultry


The virus usually spreads from farm to farm, and then from bird to bird, via air or bird droppings; the virus can also be carried on feet of rodents, spreading virus further.

From one country to another, virus is spread through international trade of poultry; migratory birds have also been known to spread virus, while wild ducks can pollute water supplies.

The virus can survive in cool temperatures in contaminated manure for 3 months; in water, up to four days at 22 degrees Celsius and 30 days at 0 degrees Celsius. This resilience allows ample time for the virus to affect other birds. Infected birds are then able to spread the virus from country to country through migratory patterns.

H5N1 avian influenza: Timeline of major events

Pandemic Potential

All influenza viruses have the potential to can change. It is possible that an avian influenza virus could change so that it could infect humans and could spread easily from person to person. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If an avian virus were able to infect people and gain the ability to spread easily from person to person, an “influenza pandemic” could begin.


Infection of the H5N1 virus causes typical flu-like symptoms in humans such as:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Eye infections
  • In several fatal cases, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia


The best way to minimize the spread is rapid destruction of all infected or exposed birds, which involves proper disposal of carcasses, rigorous quarantine and disinfection measures (virus is killed by heat, 60 degrees C for 30 minutes) and common disinfectants such as formalin and iodine compounds.

Currently there is no vaccination for H5N1. The best prevention on a personal level is to use protective gear when handling birds that may be infected, as well as avoiding live-bird markets in infected areas. It is also very important to avoid undercooked poultry and egg products.

For organizations worldwide it is a reminder to be prepared. As the H1N1 pandemic becomes a thing of the past, we need to be vigilant and ready for the next pandemic, which substantiated the H5N1 strain.

In order to protect yourself and your organization it is vital that you have in place a pandemic plan that covers the following areas:

  • Communication tools and protocols
  • Human resources policies
  • Vaccine and antiviral usage
  • Personal protective equipment strategies
  • Infection control measures


In August 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warned of a possible major resurgence of the H5N1 virus in the coming months, saying migratory birds appeared to be carrying it and infecting domestic poultry in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

While we have no way of knowing exactly when the next pandemic will take place, by having the right tools in place we can mitigate the potential risks.

While you can’t always foresee an emergency situation, you can always ensure you are prepared.

What’s Your Mindset?

This past summer, Iridia moved its offices to a new location; a newly renovated office space that gave employees a better, brighter, more functional space. When staff arrived on the first day to unpack their boxes and settle into their new space, they found a gift on their desks – a book by Carol S. Dweck called Mindset (subtitled, The New Psychology of Success).

The leadership team at Iridia, felt that the concepts in this book were important enough to pass on to everyone on the team. This book has become Iridia’s “theme” for the year, and not only has everyone been encouraged to read it, but at every staff meeting, one staff person is asked to comment on what they have learned from the book.

With dozens of studies and experiments, which are cited in the book, Dweck has discovered a ground-breaking idea – the power of mindset. In a nutshell, Dr. Dweck identifies two different kinds of mindsets with which people approach life – a fixed mindset, and a growth mindset.



A fixed mindset is focused on outcomes, results, achievements, and scores. A growth mindset is focused on just what it says – growth. Instead of asking, “What mark did I get on that test?” it asks, “What did I learn from my studies?” Instead of saying “I blew it. I’m a failure; I’ll never try that again.”, it says “How can I learn from this and do it better next time?” Overall, fixed mindset people tend to be governed by fear of failure, take fewer risks, are quick to condemn themselves and opt for easier tasks in which they know they will excel. Growth mindset people see every situation as a growth opportunity, therefore they take more risks, learn more, have more confidence, and accomplish more than their fixed mindset counterparts. The fixed and growth mindsets are seen very early on in life and the studies in this book, from children to corporate CEO’s, are fascinating.

Dweck applies mindset to business, sports, relationships and child-rearing, and suggests that developing a growth mindset is paramount to success in life and in work.

This little book has made quite a splash at Iridia as we continually try to find ways to apply the growth mindset principles at work. It’s not so much about creating lists of things to do or ways to be, but about creating an environment that encourages questions, welcomes mistakes, and asks people to be accountable for their own growth experiences. Pick it up from your local bookstore and see whether Mindset has some things to teach you.

AED Failure: an Avoidable Problem

Maintaining Automatic External Defibril­lators (AEDs) is perhaps the most impor­tant step in an AED program. Staff at a Washington D.C. gym learned this the hard way when a 55-year old man named Ralph Polanec collapsed.

The staff members at the gym rushed to grab their AED but could not get the device to turn on and deliver the life-saving shock Ralph’s heart needed.

Despite the best efforts of EMS personnel and friends at the scene, Ralph’s heart nev­er restarted. Later it was found out that the batteries had been removed from the de­vice when they lost their charge, they had never been replaced, effectively rendering the AED useless.

“He shouldn’t have died. I was very upset that the equipment wasn’t working, be­cause if it had been working, it might have saved him, it’s no good if it doesn’t work,” said 77-year-old Ruth Polanec, Ralph’s stepmother.

AED Failure

Ruth is not alone in her reaction. As it turns out, battery problems are one of the leading causes of potentially deadly AED failures.

AED failureA recent study shows some 1,150 deaths were tied to AED failures over a 15-year pe­riod, and nearly one in four of those failures were caused by problems with batteries. Dr. Deluca, the study’s lead author, determined that 23.2 percent of the AED failures were due to battery/power failures, while 23.7 percent were due to problems with the pads or connectors.

Even though the report describes a variety of maintenance related problems, DeLuca is quick to note that AED failures appear to be very rare. “I don’t want to send the mes­sage that these devices are unsafe or that they don’t work,” DeLuca said. “Most of the time they do work and they save lives.”

AED batteries generally last up to five years. But it is important to implement an AED program that regularly checks for error mes­sages and could alert users about low batteries.

AED maintenance is key to having a successful AED program, step up and keep your AED program running smoothly. Visit 


Innovation is the Future

Innovation is the Future

Innovation is the Future

We’re big on innovation at Iridia. In fact, it’s so important we’ve built it right in to our annual performance evaluations. That’s right, along with teamwork, quality, dependability, flexibility, and many of the other performance indicators you’d find on a typical annual review, we’ve added innovation as a performance criteria.

That means when managers sit down with employees to talk about their year, one of the things they review is what efforts the employee made to innovate in their role at Iridia. Did they bring new ideas to the table? Did they implement something that made them more efficient or effective? Did they find ways to use technology to improve productivity or performance? Were they able to look at a problem or challenge and come up with an innovative solution?

Innovation is part of the DNA at Iridia. We talk about it all the time. In fact, at every staff meeting we have a standing agenda item called the Innovation Corner. Each month someone brings an innovative idea to share with the group. We’ve shared things like Dropbox, Prezi, Wordle, Tiny URL, 99 Designs and many more ideas that keep people engaged with technology and the idea that innovation is an important part of what they do every day.

In the previous post on lifelong learning, we talked about the importance of continued learning because it changes the way we think, feel, and behave. So it is with innovation. As the world changes rapidly, we must constantly be thinking of new ways to improve our productivity, better serve our clients, manage our resources (both capital and human), and solve problems.

“Innovate or die” is the battle cry of modern business, and Iridia is making innovation part of its life blood in order to stay healthy and vibrant in these changing times.

Iridia’s Take on Fedex Days

I recently read Daniel Pink’s new book, DRIVE, and was intrigued by an idea he talked about that has led other companies to great innovation. An Australian software company called Atlassian offers what they call “Fedex days” to their employees.

Basically the staff has the opportunity to work for 24 hours on projects not directly related to their daily duties. The only requirement for employees during these events is that they have to make a presentation to the company describing what they worked on (erego the name “Fedex Days” because it has to get there overnight). They have had incredible success with this program, and the projects and tools that have been developed during these day-long work marathons have helped to spur innovation and creativity throughout the organization.

On Friday, December 16th, Iridia held its own version of Fedex Days, only instead of 24 hours, the staff were given an afternoon (we had to start somewhere), and the presentation of the idea came after the weekend at our monthly staff meeting on Monday Morning. Eight Iridia employees were divided into two teams and were tasked with two assignments.

The first was to come up with a story that demonstrated Iridia in a pictoral way – one that would resonate with people as to the kind of company Iridia is and how we demonstrate our core values (following up on a corporate storytelling session we held in November).

The second assignment was to create an idea for a new division for Iridia. The parameters were that it had to be some how related to our current mission and offerings, and it had to connect to at least one or more of our core values. The process was energizing and engaging and the staff who participated were enthused about the process and about their ideas.

Fedex Days

Interestingly, both groups came up with a “story” that demonstrated Iridia’s high commitment to customer service.

For the idea, Team 1 came up with a program to provide both clinical and consulting services to rural and remote communities to assist with challenges faced by those communities as a result of being remote. Many communities don’t have access to the medical care they need, to education and an understanding of what’s required to live a healthy lifestyle, and even to how to maintain healthy, safe living environments. Services would include risk assessment, disaster/emergency planning, education, and clinical services.

Team 2 came up with the idea of developing a recycling program for medical equipment. The idea is to take non-working medical equipment and ensure it is safely recycled, and to take working but no longer used medical equipment and donate it to people/communities in need both locally and abroad. This new division would solicit used equipment from health authorities and hospitals and ensure they got to the right places (recycling or new owners). It would reduce waste and provide much needed medical equipment to people in communities and countries around the world who could never otherwise afford it.

Again, interestingly, both ideas centred around the same values – corporate responsibility, teamwork and innovation.

We felt the day was a great success and plan to hold more of these sessions throughout the year.