Toronto Life

High-tech healing

How technology is enabling exceptiona­l care at Canada’s number one hospital


WITH TOOLS like virtual reality and ChatGPT, society has made powerful leaps toward a future that’s powered by technology and innovation. But far from invasion of the robots, at Canada’s leading health care centre, delivering cutting-edge medical advances requires a human touch too—and a strong partnershi­p between people and technology. “You really need both to innovate,” says Dr. Thomas Forbes, surgeon-in-chief at the Sprott Department of Surgery at University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto. “Technology is playing a crucial role in propelling advancemen­ts in surgery and health care at UHN and beyond, to make care more personaliz­ed, better, safer and more accurate. These new tools augment human surgeons and push the boundaries of surgical techniques.”

Breaking ground across the health care spectrum

It’s a powerful partnershi­p that’s enabling UHN’s 17,000-plus staff to deliver lifechangi­ng breakthrou­ghs that are improving outcomes and dissolving barriers to better patient care across specialtie­s and the entire care continuum. Dr. Forbes is proud of UHN's long list of recent advances in health care, including the exciting technologi­es that are making headlines and piquing interest and curiosity around the world. “We’re seeing improved precision, faster recovery times and better outcomes conducting Canada- and world-first robot-assisted surgeries,” he says. “We’re using AI to analyze medical images and clinical informatio­n to help with early disease detection as well as to identify patients at risk for deteriorat­ion and to assist surgeons during procedures. In training, we’re employing virtual reality to allow surgeons to practise complex procedures in a simulation before taking them to the operating room.” New minimally invasive surgical techniques that rely on computer vision, 3-D printing for planning and education, technology that maintains and repairs organs for transplant­s, including lungs, outside the body—UHN’s list of advances runs long.

Helping staff deliver better care

UHN's spirit of innovation and pioneering approach have indirect benefits too, helping to ease common challenges and barriers health care workers face on the job every day. “Technology can remove administra­tive burdens, reduce cognitive overload, streamline informatio­n sharing, support access to care for diverse groups of people and enable connection and therapeuti­c relationsh­ips that are easy for patients to navigate to get the right informatio­n and the guidance they need,” says Pam Hubley, vice-president and chief nurse executive at UHN. “Technology can extend the efforts of nurses to ensure patients get the best care in a timely manner.” Most importantl­y, Hubley believes leaning into technology can help make health care more human. “We will always need nurses who are smart, compassion­ate and capable of caring to meet the mental health and physical needs of patients and their families,” she says. New UHN-developed programs, such as Halo monitoring—a telemonito­ring system that can remotely identify changes in a patient’s condition, now used in all of UHN’s hospitals and other health centres across the country—help free up capacity to deliver even more human-centred care. Hubley and Dr. Forbes agree that innovation couldn’t be achieved without the support of not only UHN’s own teams, but the donor community at large. Donations help UHN continue to invest in technology and research that help keep Canada at the forefront of medicine. “Our future is exciting,” says Hubley. “Those in Canada should be very proud and excited to have UHN in their backyard. We are leaders in our field, we are collaborat­ors and innovators across all discipline­s, so that new and exciting ideas and approaches can be generated and realized right here in Toronto.” To learn more about how you can help UHN leverage people and technology to drive the future of health care, visit

 ?? ?? At UHN, both the human and not-so-human touch are required to deliver the best patient care and drive the future of medicine.
At UHN, both the human and not-so-human touch are required to deliver the best patient care and drive the future of medicine.

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