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Using innovative technology to improve care for vulnerable youth: New patient engagement software featured at TedMed 2014

September 23, 2014
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BC Children's Hospital Clinician Scientist Dr. Sandy Whitehouse recently attended TedMed 2014 in San Francisco to promote TickiT, an interactive tablet- or computer-based questionnaire designed to improve the way doctors collect information about their patients.

Patients use TickiT to answer questions about their history and health needs while waiting for their appointments. As the patient progresses through the questionnaire, TickiT uses their responses to generate new questions, provide feedback and share targeted educational material. TickiT also generates reports that are instantly forwarded to care providers with the most important risk and protective factors already flagged.

TickiT is a particularly important tool for clinicians working with vulnerable youth who may have a difficult time understanding medical language or feel uncomfortable discussing personal matters with an adult. TickiT questionnaires use simple wording and graphics and allow providers to offer surveys in multiple languages and view the responses in English.  

“Low health literacy levels and discomfort from both providers and patients often mean that providers miss critical health information,” says Dr. Whitehouse. “TickiT’s non-judgemental, simple graphics can reduce literacy levels in questionnaires and allow patients to comfortably divulge personal information.”

TickiT was developed by Tickit, a health care technology company founded by Dr. Whitehouse. In addition to her role at BC Children's, Dr. Whitehouse is a physician and Medical Lead of Transition at BC Children’s, and a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Whitehouse and Tickit were selected to be part of HIVE at TedMed, an informal social environment featuring transformative startups and inspiring entrepreneurs.

A pilot study tested TickiT’s use at BC Children’s Hospital and McMaster Children’s Hospital as a psychosocial screening tool for youth aged 12-18 years. This research, which was published in October 2013 in JMIR Research Protocols, showed that 99 per cent of youth completed the survey and 92 per cent reported it was easy to understand and use. Additionally, all of the medical residents and pediatricians surveyed felt the information gathered by the platform was useful and met their needs. 

TickiT is currently being used in the Sleep Disorders Clinic at BC Children’s, at UBC, in a BC school for vulnerable youth, and at 15 hospitals and universities in Canada, the United States and Australia. In addition, Dr. Whitehouse and her colleagues are continuing to study TickiT’s functionality in clinical settings. 


Read more:

Whitehouse S et al., "Co-Creation With TickiT: Designing and Evaluating a Clinical eHealth Platform for Youth" in JMIR Research Protocols, Oct 18, 2013