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Dr. Alexandre Henri-Bhargava researches a rapid learning health system for cognitive health

There have been no new drugs to treat dementia since the mid-1990s. If we can’t cure it yet, how can we improve care for people with dementia and their families? Through timely diagnosis and team-based care. The Cognitive Health Initiative is conducting and applying research to help clinicians do just that.

 In 2017, a Vancouver Island family touched by dementia made a generous $2.5 million pledge to support innovation and research in dementia diagnosis and care: the first-ever research donation to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. Called the Neil and Susan Manning Cognitive Health Initiative (CHI), the funds support an innovative learning health system framework within Island Health, in partnership with the University of Victoria and UBC's Island Medical Program.

  • Register now to learn more about the Cognitive Health Initiative as a learning health system! On Friday, November 1 (2 – 3 pm), hear from Dr. Alexandre Henri-Bhargava, who will speak on behalf of the Manning Cognitive Health Initiative, Seniors Strategy, and the Royal Jubilee Hospital Seniors Outpatient Clinic (Geo 4).

The Cognitive Health Initiative is a clinical research program at the Seniors Outpatient Clinic (SOPC) at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. A Specialist Memory Clinic (SMC) is embedded in the SOPC and serves patients whose primary referral to the SOPC is for memory or cognition issues. The SMC is new, and grew out of a QI service redesign led by the CHI that defined a phased referral process and criteria with stakeholders including Central Intake, Geriatric Specialty Services, and the Divisions of Family Practice.

CHI research nurse Tenny King works closely with the SOPC staff and clinicians, who are all passionate about improving dementia care for their patients and families through rapid learning and redesign using continuous improvement cycles. So far, the CHI has captured clinical information on over 200 patients through the Specialist Memory Clinic. Using this data, patterns and predictors are being developed that will support clinical staff to better identify targeted patient needs based on algorithms and models.

A permission to contact for research program has also been put in place, offering patients through the SMC an opportunity to be involved in studies, including both clinical trials and other non-pharmacological approaches like mindfulness training. By embedding research into the work we do, we can offer new and targeted treatment options to patients, and continuously improve care, experience, and processes for people living with cognitive health issues in our community.