March Innovation – the Bant App Could Save Billions

Again our monthly innovation will focus on a smartphone application – the Bant app. Not too surprising, as it seems a new health app is developed daily. We now have apps that can help you review your blood pressure, your glucose level, heart rate and even your brainwaves.

Increasingly, the health industry is turning to smartphones to monitor and help patients with chronic illness, essentially turning our favorite Angry Birds device into lifesaving equipment.

Approximately 80% of Canada’s health-care dollars go to the treatment of chronic illnesses. The big five – diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments, cancer and mental illness are expected to cost worldwide health-care $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the World Economic Forum.

Fortunately, there are those who are on a mission to tackle the problem of crippling health-care costs, individuals such as Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, the senior director at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in Toronto.

Cafazzo’s team of 70 experiences doctors, nurses, software engineers and designers are undertaking an immense task – to tackle what ails us, before the conditions become acute and require medical intervention. By keep patients on track through home care and remote monitoring, they believe patients will be less likely to end up in the hospital or on expensive drugs, which will reduce the economic impact on our health-care system.

Bant App

Enter the Bant app (named after Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin), an iPhone app developed by Cafazzo and his team.  

bant app

Bant allows you to simplify your diabetes management, “Diabetes management is a team effort and Bant empowers your team. It makes blood glucose data capture easy and sharing your experience even easier,” says Bant’s website.

Traditionally, diabetic teenagers have presented a challenge to health professionals, since they typically are reluctant actively monitor their blood glucose levels, prick their fingers and take readings.

The Bant app aims to increase usage through gamification (the use of game design techniques into non game contexts) elements that reward teens with iTunes store credits every time they use their glucometer.

About a year ago, University Health Network ran a three-month, Health Canada-approved clinical trial of Bant with 20 diabetics aged 12 to 16. Initial signs were encouraging, participants monitored their blood 49.6% more frequently—from 2.38 to 3.56 times a day, on average (the target is a minimum of four times).


Bant is a constant reminder to young diabetics that they can keep their condition from worsening if they modify their behaviour. Dr. Cafazzo says his team came up with the idea for the app after observing teen patients in the hospital. “No matter how sick these kids were, they still had their phones with them.”

Get Bant from the app store.


Fun, Laughter and Motivation at Womens Weekend 2012

Iridia is a provider of paramedic services to the resource exploration industry in northern British Services. As such, we are often working in small communities in remote regions.

These northern communities are full of those who we call an extension of the Iridia team here in the Lower Mainland.

We believe it is important to invest in these communities; they make it possible for us to deliver high-quality care to workers in the surrounding oil and gas industry. We are committed to social responsibility; after all, it is one of our core values. 

“We believe that the bottom line is not the sole measure of company success. As a responsible player in the global marketplace, we are committed to running our business in a way that is socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and economically profitable.”

Womens Weekend

Fort Nelson is one community we are actively involved in and recently we were provided with an opportunity to reach out and give a little back for womens weekend.

In February, Fort Nelson was to host its annual Women’s Weekend. When we heard about the chance to become a sponsor of the event, we jumped on it.


The goal of Fort Nelson’s Women’s Weekend is to bring women together to meet and establish relationships amongst all women in Fort Nelson and provide a safe, nurturing environment in which women can explore their own potential while learning from one another.

The event was a success with over 200 attendees. The women were able to enjoy a wide variety of activities including first nation’s history, photography, glass fusing and self defense. Also on hand was keynote speaker Linda Edgecomb, a motivational speaker for women.

Women’s Weekend helps to build lasting support networks in the community of Fort Nelson. Women, who have never imagined sharing their talents, find themselves starting volunteering, facilitating workshops and some go on to start their own small businesses.

Iridia is excited to have been a part of the 2012 Women’s Weekend. We are thankful to the planning committee for organizing a wonderful event and allowing us the opportunity to get involved.

James Cameron Would Fit Right in at Iridia

You may have heard about a little deep sea diving event this past weekend, involving a 7-hour solo journey to the deepest known point in Earth’s oceans. Quite the feat considering only two people have ever reached the base of the Mariana Trench before – Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh in 1960.

Who was the lucky or unlucky (depending on your phobias) submariner the third time around? Was it an oceanographer, a marine biologist or a… filmmaker? Wait… What? Did you say filmmaker?

James Cameron

Yes, as it turns out, the man who brought us time-travelling robots also happens to be the third man to ever reach the lowest point in our oceans – James Cameron

It is actually not as strange as it initially seems. Cameron actually has quite an extensive background in oceanography. Over the years he has accumulated 72 deep-sea submersible dives. Thirty-three of those dives have been to the wreckage of the Titanic, a favorite subject of his.

Read more about the spectacular dive here.

He isn’t only a Hollywood director; Cameron is a modern day pioneer and explorer. His personal efforts have led to the development of new 3D filming systems as well as underwater and remote filming technology. He is even on the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory.

James Cameron Dive

James Cameron and Iridia

As a world-renowned director, one would think Cameron would be satisfied, but that is where he stands apart. He understands that innovation is the future. That’s where he ties in so closely with us here at Iridia.

It is not enough to simply be great at what you do. Sometimes you need to create something new to advance your vision and the vision of others around you.

Being satisfied shouldn’t prevent you from moving forward. At Iridia we wouldn’t achieve our vision is we sat back and said “this is good enough.”

Innovation is the key to continued growth and relevance in the marketplace. At Iridia, we constantly look for creative ways to change, solve problems and find solutions, both internally and for our clients.

 “There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.” – James Cameron

CPR and First Aid Retention – Revisited

Back in October, we talked about CPR and First Aid Skill Retention. At the time, a WorkSafe BC study showed that many of the skills learned in CPR and First Aid courses were forgotten shortly after certification.

First Aid Retention

The WorkSafe study came to these conclusions:

• Many skills deteriorate rapidly over the course of the first 90 days.
• Repetition (the number of times trained/certified in First Aid or CPR) may be more important to skill retention than the length of time since the last training.
• A number of skills were performed poorly regardless of how much time had passed since the last training.
• Simple and cost effective updating strategies for first aid and CPR are needed to reduce the rate of knowledge and skill deterioration.

Their recommendation was to do a refresher course every 90 days, as individuals who repeated certification tended to score higher on exams. Repetition is the key.

First Aid Retention

Now, fast forward five months and it seems that WorkSafe’s initial findings were spot on. In a review of 11 international studies, researchers have found health providers’ skills in advanced life support typically deteriorated six months to a year after training.

Currently, the standard guidelines call for re-training every two years. These guidelines are quoted as “not optimal” by Dr. Lance Becker, director of the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

So why do widespread guidelines recommend re-training every two years?

According to Becker, one of the main reasons was convenience; historically the two-year time frame was seen as an easy fit for busy schedules. Another, he said, is the lack of good research showing a shorter interval is necessary.

Without evidence from well-designed studies, it’s hard to change guidelines, Becker noted.

What’s needed, he said, is more research into the best ways to train and retrain people in advanced life support and first aid retention.


At Iridia we understand the need to provide high-quality training; we focus our training on positive and interactive instructional methods, combined with practical hands-on components.

Please view our ACLS flyer for more information.

Our medical education and instructors are consistently praised for lowering the stress and pressure that many health care professionals associate with Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) continuing education.

If you are interested in continuing your medical education please visit us, we provide a wide variety of courses from ACLS to basic CPR and AED training and recertification.

AED Giveaway Winner

AED Giveaway 

Iridia Medical is please to announce that the Kopytko family has received the most votes for our AED Giveaway. They collected an impressive 1348 votes! Congratulations on your new AED!

AED Giveaway

We would also like to thank all of the finalists and those of you who voted.

View the winning story:

The Kopytko Family

Our son Mitchell, was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, he is now 10. 2 years ago my husband was also diagnosed with the disease. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is often the cause of sudden cardiac death.

The school that Mitchell attends is not equipped with an AED. As a parent I spend much of my day worrying that if he were to have a cardiac incident it would be too late by the time it was recognized, and the paramedics were called. In an effort to let him have a normal childhood, we often find ourselves in locations that are not equipped with AED’s, school field trips and camp sleepovers.

We have often thought about the benefits of being able to have life saving equipment with Mitchell at all times, and would be forever thankful to have won that piece of mind.

We Have a Code ORNGE


Ornge is the air ambulance service for the province of Ontario and is an integral component of the larger emergency health system in communities across Ontario. ORNGE is responsible for airlifting injured or sick people around the province.

Recently, amid charges of financial mismanagement and poor safety standards, the two most senior executives at Ornge Global, which is responsible for Ontario’s air ambulance service, have been fired.


Dismissed without severance and pay, along with 18 others, CEO Chris Mazza and COO Maria Renzella are at the center of a scandal involving the misuse of taxpayers’ money.

The firings are “vitally important and necessary steps needed to restore confidence and leadership for Ontario’s air ambulance service,” said Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews in a recent statement.

Aside from a tarnished image, Ornge, the non-profit air ambulance service, is largely unaffected by the developments – but the for-profit Ornge Global is now virtually finished.
Ornge Global is accused of profiting from taxpayer dollars meant for the air ambulance service. Ornge Global is well known for its lavish headquarters, nicknamed the “Crystal Palace” and steep executive salaries. The concern is that some of the $140-million yearly payout from the province has been diverted to Ornge Global.

Currently, a team of 32 forensic auditors are pouring over the company’s records to determine whether taxpayers’ money was used for private gain.

Recently, it has been discovered that Dr. Mazza received $1.4-million per year in compensation. A figure Matthews quotes as “outrageous, shocking and unacceptable.” Despite receiving public funding, the company had successfully shielded the salaries of Dr. Mazza and other top executives from public disclosure laws, until now.

“Some real concerns have been raised, not only in terms of issues related to operational matters, but also with respect to use of public dollars,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty last month.

Along with shedding up to 20 positions at Ornge Global, Matthews said the new board and an interim CEO, Ron McKerlie will make further changes, particularly in the areas of patient care and safety.

In addition to financial problems, the air ambulance service has also been repeatedly accused by pilots and paramedics of shirking safety, with low staffing levels and cramped helicopter interiors. The Ontario Health Ministry is currently investigating a claim that two deaths have been associated with the improper interior.

Ornge is also accused of cutting costs by delaying response times, potentially threatening lives in the process.

Stay Home and Have an Influenza Day

Who doesn’t enjoy a break from school on a snow day? For many they are blessing; a free day to have some fun, where otherwise, you would be counting sheep waiting while minutes to tick by. The good news, you may get the break you’re looking for. The bad news, there will have to be a flu pandemic first.

 Influenza Day

Have an Influenza Day!

A recent study in Alberta has shown that by closing schools, we could potentially slow the spread of a flu pandemic. The study in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed data on H1N1 infections in the province during the 2009 pandemic.

View the study summary:

How does shutting down the school reduce the spread of a flu pandemic? Well, it turns out children play an important role. “School-age children were fundamentally important drivers of [pandemic H1N1] transmission in 2009,” the study’s lead author, Prof. David Earn of McMaster University in Hamilton.

“We suggest that school closures [either local or regional] should be seriously considered if a pandemic occurs during the school year.”

Researchers used the data they collected to plot lab-confirmed H1N1 cases on a graph. A correlation between school closed for the summer and a drop in incidence began to emerge.

“Using state-of-the-art modelling, we then demonstrated that transmission was reduced by at least 50 percent,” Earn said.

50 percent by school closures alone! That’s quite the change, but not the only factor. The model also showed that a large drop in temperature seemed to influence a spike in H1N1 cases throughout the province, but the weather changes were less important than closing school for the summer.

By chance, schools in Alberta happened to be closed for during the first wave of H1N1 infections in summer 2009, but the observations suggest that closing all schools could affect the course of future epidemics, the researchers said.

On an interesting note, during the pandemic, public health authorities recommended against school closures. While other provinces tightened criteria to test for respiratory viruses when the first wave of the pandemic grew in intensity, Alberta did not; this gave the researchers higher-quality data to model.

The study highlights the important issue of how to prevent the spread of influenza. However, the verdict is still out on the long-term benefits of this course of action. Perhaps future studies will shed some light.



Tackling Hospital Readmission

Hospitals have a problem. Frequently, when a patient is discharged, they are readmitted again within a month. Hospital readmission is a huge drain on resources. In North America hospitals spend billions of dollars a year on patients’ return visits.

For example, one in 20 Canadians who has a heart attack — a common cause of rehospitalisation — is urgently readmitted within a month of being discharged, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. An analysis published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the chances of rehospitalisation only increase over time.

Tackling Hospital Readmission

Now, obviously, the goal isn’t to prevent individuals from returning to hospital if the need arises. The goal is to provide high-risk patients with the necessary information and tools upon discharge to limit their chances of return.

Hospital Readmission

As times change, hospitals have undergone many transformations to the way care is delivered. From the development of outpatient facilities such as the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre here in British Columbia, to the state of the art St. Josef Hospital and Pediatric Clinic in Neunkirchen, Germany, Hospitals are entering an era of change.

So how are hospitals tackling the problem of readmission? The answer is to give patients better follow-up care.

One solution getting growing attention is Project Red — for Re-Engineered Discharge — developed by Boston University. It includes the use of a “virtual discharge advocate” named Louise, who appears as an animated character on an interactive screen rolled up to a patient’s bedside to help in the discharge process.

Facilities in Florida and New Jersey have found another successful tool: nurse intervention and communication. For instance, focusing on nursing education, and have nurses explain discharge plans before patients are discharged.

Medication-related side effects and misunderstandings about what and when to take medicine is a leading cause of readmissions. Nurses, therefore can explain in detail to patients about the medicine they have been prescribed to avoid future complications.

One hospital in Florida devotes a nurse practitioner (NP) to provide transitional care for heart failure patients. The heart failure NP not only provides one-on-one training to the patient in the hospital but also ensures that patients are seen within 7 days of leaving the hospital and receive a follow-up phone call within 48 hours and 10 days of discharge.

For a full overview of hospital readmission challenges and solutions , have a look at this video created by the United States National Health Policy Institute.



Follow-up care is extremely important in reducing hospital readmission rates. All too often, patients are sent out the door without enough information in hand. However, with intervention, an onsite nurse or visiting coach can help cut the rate of readmission’s. 

Heart and Stroke 2011 Annual Report

Year after year the Heart and Stroke Foundation, with support from 130,000 Canadians around the country, is able to invest in ground-breaking research, prevention efforts and advocates healthy change across Canada.

heart and stroke

In British Columbia alone:

  • 24 Foundation funded researchers are investigating new treatments against heart disease and stroke
  • 33 new research projects have been funded
  • A BC Stroke Strategy has been developed
  • A provincial awareness campaign for improved recognition of stroke has been launched

In the 59 years of the Foundation’s existence, the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease has decreased by 25%. And yet, still, close to 250,000 potential years of life are lost every year heart disease. Heart disease and stroke still take 1 in 3 Canadians before their time.

A 25% decrease is very impressive, but there is always more we can do as early onset of heart disease and stroke is 80% preventable.

Even one campaign can leave a lasting impression. For example, in 2011 The Heart Truth campaign helped make Canadian women aware of their leading cause of death; heart disease and stroke. Awareness grew by 12 percentage points among women 35 and older.

Stroke Strategy

After working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation on various stroke related projects, we at Iridia understand their importance. Research funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation can lead to various projects that that aim to deliver better health care to Canadians. 

Mentioned above, the new British Columbia Stroke Strategy is a key initiative to hit a major milestone in 2011. For the past few years, Iridia has been working with the Heart and Stroke foundation on the development of BC’s Stroke Strategy.

BC stroke strategy - Heart and Stroke

The care stroke survivors received within forty-eight hours after their stroke has a tremendous impact on the length and quality of their recovery. The immediate recognition and treatment of stroke is imperative.

For the first time, a province-wide strategy is in place to improve the prevention and treatment of stroke in BC’s health care system.

According to Pam Aikman, Provincial Director of Stroke Services BC at the Provincial Health Services Authority, “This is a milestone year for stroke care in BC. Thanks to the tireless work by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, we have been able to launch Stroke Services BC, and have a solid plan for implementing ongoing improvements to stroke care here in BC.”

Iridia is proud to have worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation in the development of the BC Stroke Strategy. We will stand alongside the Foundation in the step-by-step fight against heart disease and stroke.

Learn more about the stoke care strategy: signsofstroke

View the annual report: H&S2011

Visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation: HeartandStroke