Scientist Awarded Prestigious Grant

West Park Scientist Awarded Prestigious Grant to Study Virtual Rehabilitation

Dr. Crystal MacKay

Dr. Crystal MacKay

December 2, 2021 - As we celebrate Digital Health Week across Canada, one of West Park’s very own scientists, Dr. Crystal MacKay, is at the forefront of research into virtual rehabilitation, and has been awarded a prestigious grant to further her work.

Dr. MacKay is heading a study to determine how patients perceive and experience compassionate care in virtual rehabilitation – and she’s being supported with a grant through AMS Healthcare.

Today, AMS Healthcare announced the 2021 awardees in their Compassion and AI Grants funding program. Nine individuals and their multidisciplinary teams have been selected by an external expert review panel to help transform healthcare by ensuring that technologies are enabling of healthcare’s compassionate purpose.

Throughout the pandemic, the increase in the use of virtual care at West Park and across the health system has become vital to ensure patients continue to receive care, even when they aren’t able to visit the hospital.

“The goal of our research is to increase our knowledge of how to improve compassionate care within a digital environment by exploring patients’ perceptions and experiences of virtual rehabilitation consultations for people with limb loss,” Dr. MacKay explains. 

The grant comes at a crucial point when health services are transitioning to a digital experience at a rapid pace.

Dr. Steven Dilkas, staff physician in the Centre’s Amputee Rehabilitation service, says this research is important because of the diversity of patients. “Anyone can become an amputee at any point in their life, meaning that there are a significant number of factors to consider when evaluating perception related to a care experience,” Dr. Dilkas says. “Dr. MacKay’s research is crucial to understanding those perceptions and how patients experience care.”

As many at West Park Healthcare Centre are aware, limb loss is a life-altering event that can negatively impact physical and mental health. People with limb loss often have unique rehabilitation needs related to their prostheses that need to be considered when providing virtual care.

At this time there is a lack of research on how virtual care consultations impact peoples’ rehabilitation experiences. Through the AMS grant, Dr. MacKay and her team will address the gap by conducting interviews with people with limb loss who had a virtual care visit at a rehabilitation hospital. Findings will assist in the understanding of how to improve the delivery of compassionate care and improve the quality of rehabilitation services in a digital environment.

Taking it one step further, the grant program will support the sharing of findings. AMS Healthcare has designed the program to promote collaboration across disciplines and professions, and to engage the healthcare community in the exploration and evaluation of topics related to compassion and technology.

“We are looking forward to seeing the results of the research and the substantial impact it has for future patients of West Park’s Amputee Rehabilitation service, and beyond,” says Dr. Dilkas.