Image of cheque presentation

The Opal patient app, an award-winning RI-MUHC-developed app that empowers patients with their personal health data, recently received a $1 million gift from CIBC through the MUHC Foundation to advance its Quebec SmartCare Consortium initiative

Montreal, June 14, 2022 – Navigating the health care system can be overwhelming. An innovative app improving the patient experience at the MUHC is expanding thanks to a $1 million gift from CIBC to the MUHC Foundation. Created by the Opal Health Informatics Group – a passionate group of patients, clinicians, researchers, and students at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC)the Opal app provides patients access to their hospital appointments, laboratory test results, some clinical notes written by their doctors, and educational material about their illness and treatments. The result is a more empowered experience for patients—with their health information at their fingertips, they feel in control of their journey.

“It is deeply satisfying for our healthcare professionals at the McGill University Health Centre to co-create projects with patients that improve the patient experience. Opal is a product of this vital collaboration and I look forward to seeing it evolve.”

 — Dr. Pierre Gfeller, President and Executive Director, MUHC

Opal was created when the late Laurie Hendren, a Professor of Computer Science at McGill University and breast cancer patient, teamed up with her radiation oncologist, Dr. Tarek Hijal, and with medical physicist and cancer researcher Dr. John Kildea to empower patients during their care and improve their experience. Currently, Opal is used by cancer patients at the MUHC, as well as by patients with inflammatory bowel disease and HIV, and the parents of children with kidney disease.

“Laurie was the driving force behind the app. She understood how difficult it can be to keep track of dozens of appointments and the need for patients to access their own personal health information while dealing with the stress of a cancer diagnosis.”

— Dr. Tarek Hijal, Chief of Radiation Oncology at the MUHC,
Clinical Lead of the Quebec SmartCare Consortium and Opal Co-Creator

With CIBC’s support, Opal will be expanded to enhance patient care and research as the centrepiece of an innovative new project known as the Quebec SmartCare Consortium (quebecsmartcare.com). As the project progresses, participating physicians will be able to monitor their patients between appointments using wearable devices that track vital signs. Remote monitoring will provide physicians a steady stream of data to help them better understand each patient’s condition. It will also provide patients the reassurance that anomalies in their health will be noticed by their health care team and addressed quickly.

“The incredible team at McGill University Health Centre continuously helps improve the functioning of our healthcare systems through the implementation of innovative tools like Opal,” said Rosa Trunzo, Vice President and Region Head, Quebec at CIBC. “On behalf of CIBC, we’re proud to support their ambition to provide exceptional and integrated patient-centric care for those living with cancer, as we collectively work towards a future where no one has to fear a cancer diagnosis.”

Opal is also a powerful tool for research. Patients will be able to share their anonymized data with scientists to enable studies that will ultimately improve patient care.

“Opal not only helps patients feel in control of their health care journey, it creates an immense opportunity to work with patients to collect real-world data to improve our understanding of treatments, monitor and minimize side effects, identify gaps in care, develop new treatment options and much more.”

— Dr. John Kildea, Cancer Researcher at the RI-MUHC,
Principal Investigator of the Quebec SmartCare Consortium and Opal Co-Creator

As Opal’s capabilities grow, ​​thanks to the investments of the public and private partners who are participating in the Quebec SmartCare Consortium as well as funding from the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, its creators are expanding the reach of the app within the MUHC and, for the first time, to another Quebec hospital. In the same way that technology has changed so many aspects of our lives, Opal will change how we navigate the healthcare system.

“The MUHC Foundation is grateful to CIBC for its generous gift to support Opal. Receiving a life-changing diagnosis is always difficult, and anything that can help alleviate the stress of treatment makes a huge difference for patients. With CIBC’s help, Opal will become a key resource for patients and physicians across the MUHC”

— Suzanne Legge Orr, Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair, MUHC Foundation

To enable Opal to reach this milestone expansion, the MUHC Foundation is raising another $500,000. Please help us reach this goal: https://muhcf.akaraisin.com/ui/opal