Competition to design resilient health systems

In its fourth year, The Health Care Challenge – a student competition run by the Health Studies Students’ Association (HSSA) – is gearing up to tackle the issue of resiliency in health-care systems.

On Saturday, students from the Faculty of Health Sciences – in tandem with students from Psychology, Geography, BMOS and Ivey Business School – will present proposals about building a resilient health system in Canada and beyond, to a panel of industry and academic judges.

The competition aims to provide students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom towards innovative and interdisciplinary real-world solutions. Each member of the winning team receives a $500 scholarship.

“Originally, this competition came about because there was a need identified for Health Studies students to participate in challenges that were health-based,” said Kaitlyn Tyschenko, the competition’s coordinator and HSSA Vice President (Student Affairs).

The event requires only one student from Health Sciences to be on a competing team – one way to emphasize sustainable health-care solutions belong to more than one discipline.

Funding for the award comes from the faculty’s Student Opportunity Fund, so each team has to have a student representing the faculty, added Tyschenko, a fourth-year Health Promotion student.

Over the years, the competition has addressed issues such as homelessness and modifying a physical environment to promote physical health. This year’s topic of health system resilience is intentionally broad and asks students to identify an issue and a solution to ensure health systems and provisions don’t fail.

“In the end, it can be anything from preparedness for a rapid response to a pandemic outbreak, or looking at how electronic health records are transferred, or what happens when you have an influx of refugees – how does our health system respond to that? After the SARS outbreak, there were major changes to the health system to ensure even a small hospital could respond and react properly,” Tyschenko noted.

Six finalists will present at the case competition, which takes place at the International and Graduate Affairs Building starting at 9 a.m. Proposals include management of electronic health records, policy development, a focus on aging populations, Indigenous populations, empowering women and extended training for medical students on mental health.