Innovation Corner – OneNote

What is the Innovation Corner?

Every month, the Iridia team gets together or Skype’s in for a staff meeting. During the meeting, we discuss a variety of topics from our diverse organization. For the past 11 months we have added a new topic to the agenda – the Innovation Corner.

Innovation Corner - OneNote

Innovation is one of our eight core values at Iridia, values we strive to live every day. It’s one thing to say “hey, innovation is a corporate value of ours,” but it’s another to live it.

We are always keeping our sharp eyes on the lookout; finding creative ways to fit pieces together. In order to “fit pieces together,” we need to do things more efficiently and, if possible, with the use of new tools.

 “The Innovation Corner is a brief (5 min.) section of the agenda dedicated to the introduction of a story, a tool, a concept, or anything else that might spur on innovation within our team.  Anyone can lay claim to the Innovation Corner in upcoming meetings, and thereby use it to share an innovative find they have come across.

This effort has already brought forward tools that have been put to immediate use in our business operations.  In seeing how these insights have made a difference for us, we’ve decided to take time out and share them with a broader audience.” – Iridia President


During our last staff meeting we profiled a program called OneNote. Now this is interesting because there is probably a good chance you have seen this program before, or at least seen the icon on your computer. That’s because it’s bundled in with Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010. Unfortunately, it seems that many people still have no idea of what it is and how useful it can be.

OneNote is a great tool for collaborating on projects or taking notes at school. OneNote allows you to keep a multitude of files organized, share files with others on your network or online and continually update your “notebook” with ease – all without saving anything (it’s automatically synced).

For the best explanation of this tool check out this training video:


Stay tuned for future updates from the Innovative Corner!

Optimal Stroke Care Will Save Canada Millions

We recently blogged about the new Stroke Care strategy in British Columbia (see post) and how it focuses on how faster imaging for stroke patients will increase survival rates.

Though faster imaging is just one area of stroke care that affects survival rates. In a news release from the Canadian Stroke Network, they have outlined more changes that could save lives and ease the burden on our health care system.

Click to see larger version of the news release:

Stroke Care

App Profile – Instant Heart Rate

Recently our team at Iridia had a 90-day fitness challenge to promote healthy living within the organization.

I won’t get into all the details (see our previous blog), but one major part of the challenge was to increase our activity level though cardio interval training (physical training that involves bursts of high-intensity work interspersed with periods of low-intensity work).

To maximize your interval training, a measure of your heart rate is required. Your heart rate will give you an indication of your desired training zones.

Estimated heart rate zones for a 25 year old:

Instant Heart Rate

Now when I was told that I should purchase a heart rate monitor I thought “ok, sure, if it will help.” After a quick Google search it turns out they aren’t so cheap; I started thinking about alternatives. 

Instant Heart Rate

I did a little more research and found a solution to my problem. A heart rate monitor that is not only free, but I already have it in my pocket – my phone. That’s right, there’s an app for that!

It’s called Instant Heart Rate. It is an accurate heart rate monitor for any smart phone.

You are probably asking yourself how it works. Here’s what the makers of the app have to say:

“Place the tip of your index finger on phone’s camera and in a couple of seconds your Heart Rate will be shown. A real-time chart will show your every heartbeat. It uses your phones built-in camera to track color changes on the fingertip that are directly linked to your pulse. This is the same technique that medical pulse-oximeters use.”

Instant Heart Rate

It sounds “out there” but I have used it and it works. The only downside I have found is that you need to be quite still for it to work. If you’re in the middle of a workout you will need to take a little break to get a reading. All in all it’s a great alternative to a traditional heart rate monitor and a great addition to your fitness regiment. 

Get it here from the Apple App Store


Here from the Android App Store

Have you used Instant Heart Rate or other medical apps? If so, head over to our Facebook page and fill us in. We are always on the lookout for new tools and advances within the health industry.

Cardiac Re-synchronization Therapy

As part of our mission here at Iridia to promote heart disease, we are constantly drawing awareness to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and their importance in fighting Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). One area we haven’t talked is  the “what comes next area.” What happens when you survive a SCA or are diagnosed with heart disease? There are treatment options available and Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) is one of them.

Cardiac Re-synchronization Therapy

CRT is used to treat the delay in heart ventricle contractions that occur in some people with advanced heart failure.

In other words, CRT is a therapy to provide a weakened heart with the ability to be re-synced and restore proper pumping functions.

Currently, CRT is one of the most advanced cardiac treatment options available for heart disease sufferers.

In order to re-sync the heart, a CRT pacing device (also called a biventricular pacemaker) is surgically implanted under the skin. This specially designed pacemaker stimulates the lower chambers of the heart to contract at the same time, making the heart more effective and efficient.

How does a Biventricular Pacemaker work? When a heart rate drops below a set rate (programmed by a doctor), the pacing device generates small electrical impulses that pass through the leads to the heart muscle. Theseimpulses make the lower chambers of the heart muscle contract, causing the right and left ventricles to pump together. In many cases, the end result is improved cardiac function.

Cardiac Re-synchronization Therapy

Studies have shown CRT improves symptoms of heart failure in about 50% of patients. Many of these patients had previously been treated with medications but still suffered severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms.

CRT not only improves survival, but also quality of life, heart function, ability to exercise, and helps decrease hospitalizations in many patients with severe heart disease.

The procedure itself is generally very safe. Given the success of CRT, if an individual is a good candidate for the procedure, CRT will give them an increased chance at a normal life.

Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical research centre, has shown that on average, CRT improves the amount of blood pumped out with each heart beat by 5% to 10%. In some cases, patients with a CRT device can even develop normal ventricular function. It is not rare for a patient to see an increase of blood pumped out by each beat by up to 40%.

Given the health benefits, it is unfortunate that CRT is not available to all heart disease sufferers. CRT is only appropriate for people who:

  • have severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms
  • are taking medications to treat heart failure
  • have delayed electrical activation of the heart 
  • have a history of cardiac arrest or are at risk for cardiac arrest

What does the future hold for CRT? According to recent studies, allowing implantation of CRT devices in patients with moderate heart failure could help stem progression of heart failure.

How to Implement Clinical Care Protocols

At Iridia, we have a strong team of subject matter experts who are well versed in the facilitation, project management, and overall coordination of resources. With our background, we have become successful at implementing clinical care protocols.

Clinical Care Protocols

What are clinical care protocols? They are what health care organizations around the world call “best practice” protocols.

These protocols are “tools to improve hospital services” and are synonymous with improving patient care. However, to benefit from these scientific advances, a health care organization must first overcome the challenge of taking an abstract protocol and ingraining it into day-to-day operations. 

Clinical Care Protocols

Currently, there is a substantial amount of inconsistency in the both the process and the success of implementing care protocols. This variability wastes financial and human resources, both of which are already under heavy strain.

The solution is to consistently be able to convert “best evidence” to “real practice.” Health care organizations must employ a proven and practical standardized process that meets the needs of all stakeholders involved.

For example, a recent study of hospitals in the U.S. found that patients who are discharged during the busiest times for hospitals are 50 percent more likely to come back in within three days. The study looked at occupancy rates, day of the week, staffing levels and surgical and concluded that readmissions come from poor planning.

Cutting back on hospital readmissions is a hotly debated topic in the health care industry and there isn’t one simple answer. But the study authors are recommending a few changing for the hospitals; such as using checklists before discharge to avoid infections and moving patients to units with empty beds rather than sending patients home prematurely.

Read the original study here

Now, if a hospital decided they wanted to cut patient readmissions through an infection checklist, they would need to implement a clinical care protocol for doing so.

Who would be responsible for educating and engaging patients? How will the hospital track readmission? How will the protocol be evaluated? What is the timeline for implementation? These are just a few of the many questions to be answered, and that’s where Iridia steps in.

We follow formal project management techniques and in consultation with our clients we develop a coordinated strategy consisting of three phases:

We give hospital staff the tools to manage the protocol so they can answer the key question, “how does this apply?”

Since 2004, Iridia has worked with B.C.’s Provincial Health Service Authority Emergency Department Protocol Working Group to improve the quality care in the province. This has allowed Iridia the opportunity to successfully manage the implementation of both the Acute Asthma Management Protocol and the High-Risk Stroke/TIA Guidelines.

Please visit our website to see other projects we have worked on.



Stroke Care – A Fight Against Time

Iridia has worked with various stroke care initiatives over the years, specifically on the Stroke Protocols and Guidelines throughout the province of BC.

Our president, Dr. Allan Holmes was a lead consultant on the creation of the BC Stroke Strategy and the Clinical Leadership Statement for Acute Stroke Management.

Stroke Care

Stroke Care 

The BC Stroke Strategy identified current “gaps” in stroke care and outlines key areas of focus. One of which, is necessary brain imaging. The current idea that there is a gap in brain imaging is also backed by a recent study in the American journal Stroke.

The study found less than 50 percent of stroke patients undergo necessary brain imaging within the recommended 25 minutes of their arrival at a hospital.

Read the original study here

In stroke care, there is an ongoing battle against time. “Time is brain” goes the old stroke care mantra. With each minute that goes by, more and more brain cells are permanently lost. It is vital that individuals receive a timely diagnosis through brain imaging.

“We were struck by the fact that less than half of patients with acute stroke symptoms did not receive a brain scan within recommended guidelines,” says University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Adam Kelly, lead author of the study.

“This was the performance of hospitals who are actively participating in a national quality improvement program, so rates in non-participating hospitals may be even worse.”

Why is brain imaging so important in stroke care? It allows physicians to “see” what is occurring in the brain. A diagnosis will determine what treatment options are available. For example, the physician may see that the clot can be tackled using clot-busting drugs. Unfortunately, clot-busting drugs often need to be administered as soon as possible and can lose effectiveness after a few hours.

Stroke Care

The study also found that individuals were less likely to receive timely brain scans if they:

  • Did not arrive at the hospital by ambulance (47 percent less likely)
  • Had certain known risk factors for stroke such as diabetes, a prior history of stroke, over 75 years old, and peripheral vascular disease.

“Despite the strides that have been made in stroke care, it is clear that there is significant room for improvement in the evaluation of patients suspected of stroke,” says Kelly. “Time is too precious and hospitals cannot be the reason for delay.”

In our own backyard, stroke care has become an area of focus. Over the past five years, British Columbia has recognized the importance of stroke care and the related economic burden.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation in partnership with many organizations, including Iridia, have come together to identify the gaps in stroke care and put in place a strategic direction for improving stroke care in BC.

Kiva – Give the Gift of Opportunity

In the 1970’s, Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus set out to find a way to provide bank loans to those entrepreneurs who were “too poor” for traditional bank loans.

During visits to the poorest households in the village of Jobra near Chittagong University, Bangladesh, Yunus discovered through his own lending, even very small loans could make a disproportionate difference to a poor person – and so microlending was born.

Microlending, in a nutshell, is the lending of very small amounts. These loans on their own do not amount to much, but when combined with many lenders, they make a huge impact. For example, fifty people can each lend $50.00 to finance a much larger $2500.00 loan.

Watch Dr. Muhammad Yunus explain what it means to microlend during a Rotary International speech:


“Money goes, but it never comes back,” says Yunus when comparing philanthropy to microlending; providing a great example of how microlending is more sustainable than its philanthropic counterpart.

Why are we interested in the concept of microlending? It allows our team at Iridia to do so much more with less!


In September last year, Iridia jumped into the fast moving river of microlending through We saw an opportunity to give even more to those who are less fortunate.

Instead of sending a one-time donation to an individual in need, we are able to send out many loans using the same initial funds. When one loan begins to be repaid, we finance another.

To get the whole team involved, each month, one of our staff members is chosen to pick the next loan of his/her choice.

So far, microlending through Kiva has allowed us to help eight individuals around the world, from Peru to Rwanda.

Take a look at our Kiva Portfolio for a detailed view of our microlending activity:

Stepping Up to the Plate for AED Training

In March, we announced the winners of our 2012 AED Giveaway – the Kopytko family. Their son, Mitchell, was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart. 

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy can increase the likelihood of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The only treatment for SCA is though defibrillation. Without immediate access to a defibrillator, SCA is almost always fatal.

For the Kopytko family, having an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) means they now have the right tool to fight SCA.

AED Training

“We are so grateful to have the peace of mind that the AED offers our family, we will always worry about the ‘what if’s’ where Mitchell is concerned, but this gives us a piece of equipment that could make all the difference in a worst case scenario” said Melanie Kopytko.

AED Training

But as important as the defibrillator is, there is one other key component involved – training.

It is true many could pick up a defibrillator and use it without training, but will they be performing high-quality CPR? How do you apply an AED to a child? When should you call 911? These are important questions that training will answer.

Now that the Kopytko family has an AED, the next step was to get them certified. We spoke with FACTs First Aid (located in Vernon, BC), who were so touched by the Kopytko story they generously donated their time to provide AED and CPR certification.

Here’s what Melanie Kopytko (Mitchell’s mother) had to say:
“I just wanted to let you know how well our training went with Jules from FACTs first aid. She was wonderful; she really took her time with Mitchell (10) and Jorja (7) as we thought it was important that they take the training with us.
She was so on task and dialed in to our dynamic that everyone felt very comfortable asking questions, some of them tough and personal because we are thinking it may be this 10 year old child who is our patient one day, and everyone had lots of hands on time with the machine and Annie dolls, as well as a very good understanding of the basic CPR that accompanies using the AED.
I had no doubt the adults would gain from the training, but what touched me most was, like I said, her attention to Jorja, making sure she felt comfortable and sure of herself with what she was learning. They are at that age where sometimes Jorja and Mitchell are home alone together for short periods of time, so it was important she have the knowledge.  
Also with us were Mitchell’s Grandmothers, his aunt, his classroom teacher and his principal, as well as Chad and I of course 🙂
We cannot thank Iridia enough, we feel so fortunate, and now so knowledgeable. I didn’t realize how empowering it would feel to know that I have the tools of CPR if I should need them.”

Iridia is thrilled to hear the training went well; it’s great to have made such a huge impact. We feel very fortunate to be in a position to help others through the promotion of AEDs and life-saving CPR training.

We wish the Kopytko family all the best. – The Iridia Team


H5N1 – The Great Debate

In 2009 we experienced a global pandemic. The H1N1 influenza spread so quickly many were unprepared. The virus has caused 18,000 deaths to date.

18,000 deaths is a staggering number, but not when you realise that the virus caused 600 thousand infections, a fatality rate of .03%. Although it spread easily from human to human, it was not very deadly overall.

As a leader in emergency preparedness, Iridia has worked with many organizations to develop their pandemic plans. In most cases these plans had to be created from scratch as a pandemic is a state of emergency, of which many were unprepared. These plans consisted of:

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

Throughout the H1N1 pandemic, it became clear that our society was not ready. But what would happen if it had been worse?


In contrast to the H1N1, the H5N1 avian influenza has a very hard time spreading from human to human. But once an individual has become infected, it has a 60% fatality rate. To put that in perspective, if the H1N1 virus was that deadly, it would have caused 360 thousand deaths (20x more).

h5n1 virus

H5N1 Virus

It took some time, but after months of debate and controversy, research (you can search for it online) describing how to transform the deadly H5N1 in a human-contagious form was published in May 2012.

The study has made headlines around the world since 2011. A debate quickly heated up. Many were concerned about broadcasting potentially lethal information to would-be bioterrorists who might use the information to set off a pandemic.

In December, it was recommended by the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) that the study not be published in full. An expert panel convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) later disagreed with the decision, which paved way for publication.

“Given the possibility of accidental escape from the lab — not too uncommon events — the risks seem to me enormous, while the benefits are very small,” said Richard Roberts, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist who now works at New England Biolabs.

Conversely, over the last several months, many objections to the research have frequently been called uninformed. “Fear needs to be put to rest with solid science and not speculation,” wrote microbiologist Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

There are two sides to every debate. Through research we undoubtedly gain a better understanding of viruses and in turn we discover clues that can lead to vaccines. But do these deadly “recipes” need to make the rounds for everyone to see?

Want more details? Read the story here: Sciencemag

What do you think?

[polldaddy poll=6213924]

An Organ Donor Initiative Worth “Liking”

Iridia knows it is not always easy to spread awareness of life-saving initiatives. Often, there can be roadblocks such as legislation, legal issues, lack of research, and even a lack of individuals out to make a positive change.

Fortunately, over the last few years we have seen a dramatic change in the way health care has been discussed around the globe. With the rise of social media, it has become much easier to hatch a small idea and watch it take flight.

At this point, we now know social media is a very powerful tool. Wielded right, it can bring in huge rewards for organization and people alike.

Go ahead, promote something new and exciting. You may wake up the next day and see it being talked about by millions of people! Social networks give us endless potential.

As an organization, it allows us to communicate with those within our industry and together we can promote creative health initiatives. But unfortunately, we are still bound by the size and distribution of our networks.

Well, what about the platforms themselves, can Facebook and Twitter use their own networks as tools to promote something new and exciting? It sure looks that way.

Organ Donor Initiative

Last week Facebook announced an organ donor program with hopes that many of their users will jump aboard and register themselves as organ donors.

*Only available in the United States and the UK at the moment
Organ Donor Initiative

Users now have the option to add an “Organ Donor Status” to their timeline with the option of including a picture, video or a personal story.

Facebook will let people share their wish to be organ donors, just as they already share their birthdays, new jobs or what they had for lunch.

Why has Facebook implemented this feature? Currently, many patients die in hospitals around the world waiting for an organ transplant. It comes down to a supply and demand problem.

In a recent survey, the majority of Americans say they support organ donation, but only 40 percent of the adult population are registered. There is obviously a huge gap, and Facebook wishes to close it and eliminate the transplant waiting list.

We can’t be sure what kind of impact the organ donor feature will have, but we can say it has already opened the eyes of many on the importance of being an organ donor and can only hope Facebook soon adds this option to all worldwide sites.