Dr. Sacha Bhatia

Innovation Leadership: Dr. Sacha Bhatia

Chief Medical Innovation Officer, Scientist and Cardiologist

Today’s complex care environment requires us to think differently and develop new ways of treating patients. For example, can a new digital device help patients living with complex chronic conditions better self-monitor their disease? Can we develop better community healthcare services by leveraging insights and policies from other jurisdictions? Or how might machine learning enable us to improve medication safety for at risk populations?

These are the questions and challenges the Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is working to solve. Established by Dr. Danielle Martin, executive vice-president and chief medical executive, WCH and Dr. Sacha Bhatia, WIHV is designing, implementing and evaluating innovative models of care with the potential to improve community health, while simultaneously reducing cost and pressure on our healthcare system.

Dr. Danielle Martin, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Executive, Women’s College Hospital

Under the leadership of Dr. Bhatia, WIHV has applied a cross-disciplinary and collaborative team based approach, generating concrete solutions that can be scaled up and spread across the system to benefit all Canadians, regardless of where they live. “The complexity of the issues facing our health system requires multi-sectoral partnership. That’s why we have created an institute that collaborates with community organizations, government partners, technology entrepreneurs and other research teams. Through this work we are breaking down silos of information,” Bhatia said.

A cardiologist and scientist, Dr. Bhatia holds the F.M. Hill Chair in Health System Solutions. His research focuses on digital health innovation, providing new insights for policy makers and health stakeholders on the potential impacts of virtual care. His evaluative work has demonstrated that leveraging digital health tools can enhance patient experience, improve system efficiency and increase capacity. He is also a national leader in the investigation of low-value healthcare. Utilizing administrative data, Dr. Bhatia is identifying healthcare services that are not only unnecessary and potentially harmful for the patient, but drain critical system resources. As the evaluation lead of Choosing Wisely Canada, a national program taking action against low-value healthcare, Dr. Bhatia is sharing his findings with healthcare professionals across the country.

The research insights gained from the work of Dr. Bhatia and the WIHV team are informing the care offered at WCH and supporting the organization’s strategic plan. WIHV has played a critical role in the launch of WCH’s same-day hip and knee replacement surgery. Their research has demonstrated that post-operative digital tools used by patients from the comfort of home helps to create care that is more convenient, accessible and cost-effective. 

Under Dr. Bhatia’s guidance, WIHV was successful in their application to become the Secretariat of a Province-wide Centre for Digital Health Evaluation, a one-stop, expert resource on health technology for innovators, providers and government funders. Working with Dr. Martin, the Institute’s executive sponsor, WIHV is leveraging their evaluation expertise in patient-centred virtual care, to help WCH build the next generation of healthcare – Women’s Virtual, Canada’s first virtual hospital.

Addressing a diversity of healthcare challenges from access, to care for refugee communities, to the implementation of virtual primary care, WIHV and WCH are shaping a healthcare system that is inclusive, innovative and accessible.