Great Things Come in Small Apps

I’m just going to break the fourth wall for a second here, but as a relatively short person I’ve been perpetually pelted with the phrase “Good things come in small packages”. As a kid, that made me believe that I was destined to be awesome… but as I got older, I saw it more as something I’d just say to validate my human condition.

However, I’m starting to rethink it again, as this theme of small but powerful has been exploding in the modern technological world. From immense amounts of memory storage compacted into tiny micro SD cards, to the rise of mini-tablets, to entire libraries of books stored into one portable e-reader, it seems like that one thing my mom keeps telling me stands stronger as a prophecy than it does as proverbial solace to my woes.

iamsick.ca – A Digitally Small Package

Ever had to do the app-deleting rounds when your phone’s memory gets maxed out?

With the average app size of 50MB, and with higher allowable app sizes for both iOS and Android, apps are just going to keep getting bigger – eating away at the very finite memory space on our mobile devices.

Did you know that the iamsick.ca app is only 3MB on Android and 4MB on iOS?

That’s equivalent to the size of about 2 snapchat videos!!  By taking up such insignificant space, our app isn’t a thorn to your memory capacity’s side, but will not hesitate to be your hero in your time of need. At less than 10% of the average app size of 50MB, a strange echo begins to sound. It’s a small package… so it must be a good thing, right?

Well, of course! iamsick.ca is good because it’s small… and, it’s more than just “good”. Together with its convenience, functionality, and purpose, iamsick.ca is a great thing in a small package.

Greatness Lies Within

Well, what does iamsick.ca do?

First, it’s an app that helps you access healthcare whenever and wherever you need it.

What exactly does this mean though?  Well, first and foremost, our app uses your geographical location (or address/place you enter) to immediately show all of your nearby healthcare options! With a click on one of the icons (shown below), you’re immediately directed to the address, contact information, and hours of operation of all services (including holiday hours, which are updated regularly!).

Screenshot_2016-05-27-13-59-51.jpg

iamsick.ca scanning for all nearby emergency rooms, pharmacies, family doctors, and walk-in clinics

You can also use our filter to find the exact type of healthcare service you’re looking for. Whether you need to rush to an urgent-care centre or find a family doctor accepting new patients, you can find exactly what you need in just a couple of taps!

Screenshot_2016-05-27-15-19-54.jpg

Our filter system for healthcare options

Our additional filters increase the specificity of your search to include more information about that healthcare providers or service, whether you’re searching after-hours and are looking for a pharmacy that is “currently open”, a clinic that is wheelchair accessible, a walk-in clinic with e-booking, or a family doctor accepting new patients.

On top of all of this, iamsick.ca also includes a language filter with over 80 languages spoken by healthcare providers!

Screenshot_2016-05-27-15-56-45.jpg

This user is filtering healthcare options so that only those with healthcare professionals who speak Nepalese displayed

In light of the current Syrian Refugee Crisis, iamsick.ca also implemented a newcomer initiative (as highlighted by Huffington Post and TechCrunch), and many Arabic-speaking healthcare providers are being added to our database. Additionally, the website and mobile apps are also translated into Arabic (along with French, Spanish, and Chinese).

translate.JPG

How the website looks like translated. Translation on the mobile application is automatically synced to your language settings!

I know what you’re thinking. “All this, packed into ONE application?!”

Yes. That’s right. Good things come in small packages, but Great things come in small apps.

Check it out for yourself on Android, iOS, and Blackberry.

 

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Sources:

http://www.ibtimes.com/heres-crazy-amount-cellular-data-snapchat-consumes-how-stop-it-1938313

How does your mobile app measure up to industry average?

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Health Hacks For Canada’s 149th Birthday & Canada Day Holiday Hours

Over here at iamsick.ca, we’re all about boosting and improving the health of our fellow Canadians.

For the Canada Day long weekend, we’ve collected holiday hours for healthcare services, so you can easily use the iamsick.ca website or iPhone, Android or BB10 app to see whether a pharmacy or clinic is open.

And, to celebrate Canada Day, we’ve created a list of 10 cool health hacks that celebrate and advance our daily marriage with our own health.  Here they are!

1 – Nappuccinos
What is this sorcery? Nap…puccinos? The last time I had coffee before taking a nap, I lay awake on my bed jittering uncontrollably for 40 minutes. But as with all techniques, effective execution is necessary for its success.

Time for a super quick (simplified) science lesson:Your body consumes molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to release energy, and produces adenosine molecules as a result. In the brain, adenosine can act as a central nervous system depressant, which makes us sleepy. The longer we stay awake, the more adenosine accumulates; when we sleep, the body replenishes ATP from the produced adenosine (a.k.a. rest). Caffeine keeps us awake because it essentially acts by blocking the effects of adenosine.In concept, napping and caffeine both do the same thing – they make us more awake by reducing the effects of adenosine. So it’s really no surprise that the two paired together are an effective strategy to potentiate naps. You see, caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in – so if you consume a cup of coffee and immediately take a quick power nap, you wake up with a wonderfully compounded wakefulness!

2 – Train your brain! (with music)
Music is such an intrinsic and natural component of life. Everywhere from the rustle of the leaves to the whispers of the wind, melodies arise and caress our ears. But we usually don’t pay much attention to what this could actually be doing for us. Music is actually shown to exert many benefits on our health that are worth learning about:
– Music, as a distraction element, can effectively reduce the perception of pain, and improve performance during physical activity.
– Music has a huge impact on mental health, being shown to help combat depression, relieve stress, and just to elevate moods in general.
– Music (especially when playing music) is shown to boost neuroplasticity and cognitive performance.
So why not try exploring some new genres or types of music this Canada Day? Taking care of mental health is equally if not more important than physical health, and music is a very easy way to do it.

3 – Download our app!
Sometimes health might escape us. But that’s okay. The most important thing to do when we fall is to get up. And we can help you with that. Remember to download iamsick.ca app on Android, iOS, or Blackberry (or just use the web app). Our app is tiny in size and big in impact, so you won’t need to worry about it taking up your precious smartphone storage space while also having it ready to help you when you least expect it.  You can do all sorts of things with our app.. like check where the nearest walk-in clinic is, book your doctor’s appointment online, find doctors accepting new patients (including clinics with doctors that let you book appointments online), look for diagnostic labs, and even see real-time wait times for walk-ins that use our virtual waiting room service! What’s even better is that for the upcoming Canada Day long weekend, we’ll display updated holiday hours.. so you can access healthcare when & where you need it. Even if you just need to pick up some sunscreen at a local pharmacy, we’ll help you protect your skin! Our service is especially useful to keep those on great Canadian road trips healthy.. if you’re visiting a new place, you can rely on use to ensure that your nearest healthcare options are just a couple of taps away if anything (hopefully not) happens.

4 – Ditch the whiskers
Allergy season got you down under the weather? Rocking a sick moustache? Well… it’s time to make a decision. It turns out that moustache hair is very good at trapping pollen and other airborne allergens (like pollen grains) that trigger seasonal allergies. A very easy and quick fix to this without having to take those drowsiness-inducing antihistamines would be to…ditch the whiskers and shave that ‘stache. Alternatively, as hygiene is ALWAYS important, making sure to clean your facial hair regularly throughout the day could achieve a similar effect.

5 – Offer to dog sit
Ever heard of dog therapy? It turns out that having dogs as company has great therapeutic effects. Playing with a dog can increase levels of the stress-suppressing hormone oxytocin, while simultaneously lowering your body’s production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Other benefits include lowering blood pressure, increasing
post-heart-attack lifespans, and a general increased happiness. So… if your neighbours are planning a road trip for the Canada Day weekend but can’t take their dog with them… why not be a  benevolent member of the community and pick up on some dog-sitting with a side of mental therapy?

6 – Hypothermia
Okay, this one’s even weirder than the nappuccino tip. Hypothermia? And the summer? Compromised heat regulation…in the heat of the summer? It just doesn’t make sense… Well, as it turns out, the CDC has found that there’s been an alarming number of deaths occurring due to hypothermia… in June.Why? Well, the answer is simple, really. People are unprepared. In the winter, everybody likes to bundle up with layers upon layers upon layers. But in the summer, it’s very common for people to go for a dip in the lake at the cottage (even at night), and just walk around in swim-clothes, unaware that their body heat may be declining rapidly. The tip here, is to stay prepared. Towels and light extra layers are key, especially if you’re planning on getting wet!

7 – Apply cold (tea) to area of burnThis tip is super useful for the summer. If you find yourself sunburned in the hot summer sun (you should be putting on sunscreen to prevent this in the first place), or brushed against some poison ivy, or bitten by mosquitoes, you can use TEA as a remedy! The many natural organic compounds in tea have many powerful therapeutic effects. Black tea applied to sunburns can speed recovery. Anti-inflammatory agents in chamomile tea can reduce irritation from poison ivy and bug bites. Biting into tea bags can also be used to relieve cold sores! Check out this article on Greatist.com for more information about the amazing benefits of tea: http://greatist.com/health/treat-sunburns-tea-and-other-tips

8 – Sniff some fruits and flowers
Having a bad day? Headache’s got you down? Can’t sleep? Mother nature’s full of solutions – and they’re easier to access than you think. Studies have found that odorous molecules released by oranges can relieve anxiety and boost mood, the scent of green apples can reduce the magnitude of pain perception in some individuals, and the scent of lavender oil has soothing effects that can facilitate the sleeping process. I guess whoever said that you need to take time to “step back and smell the roses” was on to something… 

9 – Exercise with your immune system!
People are always nagging you to do exercise because “it’s good for you”, but often don’t really offer much more information beyond that. So how do you actually know it’s good? Well… it goes deeper than “it boosts your metabolism” or “it makes you feel good”. It turns out that when you regularly do exercise, you are concurrently training your immune system (that part of your body that defends against illnesses and infections) to be stronger. Ever heard of a white blood cell? Well, there are several types of these, and two of them are directly impacted by your levels of exercise.Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells) are the virus and cancer-killing white blood cells. Your body is constantly producing “busted” cells that have the chance of developing into cancers… but the reason why everyone doesn’t have cancer is that their NK cells are there to destroy the bad cells before they can do damage. Macrophages (a.k.a. “big-eaters”), are another member of your body’s general immune defense, and literally eat up illness-inducing pathogens that may enter your system. Doing exercise has been found to boost the number of NK cells AND making them more powerful, while also making macrophages more responsive to your body’s chemical signals, and more capable of destroying unwanted invaders. Exercise, then, not only makes you stronger, but makes you more resistant to disease and keeps you healthier for longer!So…yeah. Next time someone tells you that “exercise is good for you”, make sure THEY know why too.

10 – Tune your mind to your body
Have you ever just looked at your hands and marvelled at how, with barely a thought, you can make your fingers move exactly how you want? Have you ever sat down and just wondered how all the multiple molecular intricacies in your body dance together to create the fully functioning organism that is you? So many of us simply take our bodies for granted, without realizing how amazing this complex vessel we are born with and grow with for our entire lives really is. Cited in multiple realms with different names, such as “mind-muscle connection” in weightlifting, “zen” in Buddhism, or “mindfulness” in colloquial terms, establishing a connection between your mind and your body is a topic of increasing importance. This mindfulness allows for the defusing of stress, a momentary reset, and just feeling more in tune with yourself as a person. Check out these 5 bonus health tips to get started on your journey to become more mindful in your everyday environment: http://www.mindful.org/5-tips-for-practicing-mindfulness-at-the-office/

Happy Canada Day everybody!!!  We hope these health hacks are useful to help you live happier every day.

Love,

The iamsick.ca Team

Sources

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16453980

http://greatist.com/happiness/unexpected-health-benefits-music

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/news-story/0937a947dbc07abd0ca0e643adf44e85

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health-advice/nine-weird-health-tips-that-work/news-story/0937a947dbc07abd0ca0e643adf44e85

http://animalsmart.org/species/dogs/dogs-help-reduce-stress

http://www.theactivetimes.com/summer-hypothermia-4-tips-preventing-unexpected

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16095639

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/green-apple-scent.aspx

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9129266

http://www.nature.com/icb/journal/v78/n5/full/icb200075a.html

http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

Accessibility Innovation Showcase 2015

iamsick.ca will be attending the Ontario Accessibility Innovation Showcase 2015 in MaRS this weekend, hosted by the Government of Ontario.  Held in time for the Para Pan Am Games, the event will showcase accessible technology and devices created by Ontario companies.

There are many activities planned for the weekend, including a hackathon and walking tours. iamsick.ca will be demoing our website & apps on the exhibition floor. Our co-founder and president, Ryan, will also be pitching at the Tech Pitch competition.

Accessibility & iamsick.ca

Our goal is to offer a healthcare wayfinding & e-booking platform that helps all Canadians access healthcare, tearing down the barriers that a Canadian patient or caregiver may face.

The iamsick.ca platform already addresses a number of barriers, and we have more solutions in the works.

So far, the iamsick.ca platform addresses:

  • Access to Knowledge & Information
  • Timely Access to Healthcare Services
  • Language Barriers
  • Mobility Barriers

Our platform was also designed with insights gained from user experience design & healthcare literacy experts.

Want to learn more?  Check out our entry video below:

 

The Showcase is free and open to the public.  Stop by our booth to check out our recent developments.  We look forward to seeing you there!

iamsick.ca’s Grand Challenge

How can a Canadian digital health startup like iamsick.ca improve healthcare access for pregnant women living in rural parts of The Philippines?

“You begin by collaborating with another U of T startup… add some sweat and perseverance… along with financial support from Grand Challenges Canada… and soon, you’ll be improving lives beyond our borders.” – Ryan Doherty (President & co-Founder – iamsick.ca / PhD candidate – Medical Biophysics )

It isn’t surprising that remote areas of the world have limited access to healthcare. When it comes to maternal health, this means limited access to obstetricians and diagnostic services that you would see in larger metropolitan areas. In the Philippines, it can be as extreme as 44% of pregnant women giving birth without access to a doctor.

Last Spring, we teamed up with another U of T startup, Sonola Imaging Technologies, whose specialty is creating portable ultrasound hardware, and prepared a Grand Challenges Canada proposal to build a maternal health ultrasound mHealth app & web platform.

Nurses and midwives in remote satellite clinics will use Sonola’s portable ultrasound device and our android app to record ultrasound images. These images would then be easily accessed & viewed by physicians at major health centres in nearby cities.

Last October, Grand Challenges Canada awarded us with a grant to support the project.  So, while working on the iamsick.ca website and mobile apps to help Canadians navigate the healthcare system and book online appointments with their doctors, members of our team have been hard at work on this global health project.

Our team is designing & developing the android app & web infrastructure, while Sonola is building the hardware that will be used to capture the ultrasound images. By working together, our two early-stage Canadian start-ups will create a system that will hopefully redefine maternal health access in rural parts of the Philippines.ultrasound-diagram

The ultimate goal of this project is to create a low-cost and scalable product. In contrast to traditional ultrasound machines, we are using readily available hardware, such as low- to mid-range Android phones and chip sets. In the future, this system could eventually be used to monitor pregnant women living anywhere in the world – whether it’s here at home in Canada, or in regions of the world with high maternal mortality rates. The potential impact of telemedicine systems like these are endless.

As for our system, we’ll finish building it this summer and pilot it in the Philippines before the end of the year.

If you have a bold idea for a innovative technology or process that will help tackle a global health challenge, please check out the Grand Challenges website and take part in their next call for proposals.

Presenting New Features at Primary Care Day

iamsick.ca will be at the second Annual Primary Care Day this Friday, March 27, 2015. The event is presented by the Mississauga Halton LHIN and MIssissauga Halton Primary Care Network. Primary care providers will have an opportunity to chat with our co-founder, Ryan, and the rest of our team about our platform.

Mississauga Halton Health Integration Network  LHIN

In late 2014, we started working together with Mississauga Halton LHIN to bring patients better access to timely and appropriate care. A core element of our platform is helping patients see relevant information. We believe that will help them find the right care at the right now. We have been working hard with MH LHIN prepare features that will help patients and health care providers in the Mississauga-Halton region.

On Friday, primary care providers will have the opportunity to explore our platform. Here’s a sneak peak of three features we have built for this project:

1. Provider Accounts

Health care providers will be able to use iamsick.ca to update any facility information, including holiday hours, after hours, and any contact information that is included in our system. This feature was designed with flexibility and convenience in mind. It is important to us that health care providers can easily update their patients with the most up-to-date and accurate information.

2. Holiday Hours

Each healthcare facility’s holiday hours will be prominently displayed. We understand there are challenges around holiday surges. These challenges can burden hospital emergency departments, while patients risk not receiving appropriate and timely care. With this feature, we hope to address these challenges. Patients will be able to view holiday hours and visit the appropriate care provider for their medical needs over holidays.

3. After Hours Information 

Similar to our Holiday Hours feature, we are also displaying after hours recommendations for primary care clinics. We know that each care provider wants to make sure that patients are receiving the best care. This means providing patients with the right after hours information, in the event they may require medical attention outside of regular business hours.

We look forward to presenting our new features on Friday at the Primary Care Day conference. Attendees will be able to try out these new features, provide feedback, and learn about how to use iamsick.ca to enhance their practice.

iamsick.ca and the 2015 Ontario Action Plan for Health Care

A few weeks ago, the Government of Ontario released a follow-up to the 2012 Action Plan for Health Care. The new plan, called Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, built on the foundation that was laid down in 2012. The plan introduced four key objectives:

  • Access – Provide Ontarians with better access to the right care
  • Connect – Coordinate services so that Ontarians can receive integrated care within their community
  • Inform – Inform Ontarians through education, information and transparency so they can make the best health decisions
  • Protect – Ensure that our health system is sustainable by making evidence-based decisions

What does this mean for iamsick.ca?

In December, iamsick.ca partnered with the Mississauga-Halton LHIN to help with their Holiday Hours / Emergency Department Surge strategy. Over the winter holiday, iamsick.ca collected clinic & pharmacy holiday hours throughout the region and posted it online. Doctors were also able to update their hours in real time (one doctor even updated his hours on Christmas Day!). This meant that patients looking for their their doctor’s office hours were able to easily get the most up-to-date and accurate information.

At the core of this initiative are the very key objectives as defined in the Action Plan. Every year, health administrators prepare for the “holiday surge”. This is when emergency rooms across the region experience a higher than normal number of visits; which commonly coincides with the holiday season. However, it isn’t limited to just the holiday season – surges happen throughout the year. Surges not only mean that Canadians may not be getting the best access to care, it also means that a huge burden is placed on the system.

With iamsick.ca, Ontarians in the Mississauga-Halton LHIN region are able to get the most accurate, relevant and up-to-date healthcare service hours through our website and smartphone apps. These benefits are helpful for patients and the healthcare system year-round, so our partnership has become a year-long partnership.  You will soon hear more about how that year-long initiative will look.

In addition to our LHIN partnership, we are also working on expanding our e-booking system to more clinics and pharmacies. This will ultimately help more Canadians navigate the healthcare system… and, this too supports the objectives of Ontario’s Action Plan.

What does this mean for you and me? 

Everyone at iamsick.ca is a patient too. This new Action Plan means that we can expect improvements in how we interact with our care teams and community healthcare providers. It is important that everyone – you, me, our friends and family – can navigate the complexity of a healthcare system. This means iamsick.ca will always have work to do when it comes to creating and improving apps that help accomplish that.

For our healthcare provider friends, we will continue to improve and expand our products to help you streamline your practice. We want to help you improve the patient experience while efficiently delivering care. If you can provide any insight on how we can do that, feel free to connect with us.