As Diabetes Action Canada’s focus on digital health solutions deepens, the organization is pleased to welcome our new lead for these projects: Dr. Alexander Singer.
Dr. Alexander Singer has always been curious. He was the kid who raised his hand in class, and in life, knowing that if he didn’t understand someone else probably didn’t either. In school, he realized this need to know how and why things worked was a good basis for a career in science.
Now a family doctor and the Director, Office of Research and Quality Improvement at the University of Manitoba, as well as the Director of the Manitoba Primary Care Research Network, Singer’s questions often revolve around how to improve healthcare for everyone.
At the start of his career, he had thought it was archaic that doctors were still using paper files and noted how the ability to collect data electronically could not only improve outcomes for the person across from him, but for the entire community and beyond. When Manitoba started looking into adopting electronic medical records (EMR), he was pleased to be asked to contribute to the process.
Singer then started working on research projects looking into how EMR data could be used appropriately and effectively. His work has helped researchers in the province use de-identified EMR data to understand prescribing patterns, billing trends, and overall health outcomes. These findings allow the healthcare system to better understand what conditions people are managing and how to better optimize the care process for everyone.
This improved understanding of the health landscape has inspired Singer’s additional work in quality improvement in clinical care. “When we have the data, we can sometimes see where there’s a gap and care is not being applied equitably or where folks over here are getting optimal care and folks over here are missing some things,” he says. His work looks at ways to close those gaps.
When Dr. Michelle Greiver recently stepped down from her role leading Diabetes Action Canada’s National Diabetes Repository and digital health projects, she recommended Singer as a potential replacement. Greiver had been a collaborator of Singer’s and they had worked together on many projects in primary care research. He also liked that the role allowed him to bring a quality improvement lens to diabetes care.
“Diabetes in particular is a really useful exemplar condition because it touches so many different systems. It’s chronic, and it represents a spectrum of disease,” he says. “The way that you might try to improve primary care delivery for some other condition looks very similar to how you might try to improve the care for diabetes. So if we can get it right for diabetes I think there’s a reasonable hope that we can improve care for other conditions in primary care.”
This broad spectrum of ways people with the condition engage with the healthcare system offers ample opportunities to use EMR data to make the experience a better one. Singer is excited to learn more about the ways DAC researchers are using data, and to spend time with the Patient Partners who are foundational to each project.
Written by Krista Lamb
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