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iHeartChange: Helping youths with CHD transition to adult care

About University Health Network

University Health Network (UHN) is a clinical healthcare and medical research organization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that owns and operates four major hospitals: Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Each are teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. In total, the organization devotes C$150 million a year to research and trains more than 3000 undergraduate, graduate and medical students. Physicians, scientists and researchers at the organization collaborate extensively with the University of Toronto, where many of them hold professorial appointments.

UHN is ranked 1st in Canada in terms of research funding by Research Infosource Inc's "Canada's Top 40 Research Hospitals 2012". In 2008, UHN was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp Canada and was named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers by the Toronto Star.

The Challenge


Children with Congenital Heart Disease have very close relationships with their doctors and health care professionals as they often have to spend a lot of time at the children’s hospital getting education, treatments, and examinations. As these children mature they have to leave pediatric care hospitals and move on to a different hospital where they can continue to receive care as an adult.

For many of these children this transition is often fraught with anxiety and apprehension, mostly due to the fact that they’re unfamiliar with their new doctors, staff, and the hospital. Due to this growing concern, the staff at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (part of the University Health Network in Toronto) engaged Unihead Design and Brushfire North Inc. to create a website that would help alleviate some of this tension by educating the patients about their new hospital and heart team.

The Solution

The solution was to create the Intervention to Help Emerging Adults Ready for Transition Change or iHeartChange research study. The study was a pilot aimed at a select group of patients ready to make the transition from pediatric care at Sick Kids Hospital to Toronto General Hospital. The study was run throughout 2011 and in total 187 patients met the full inclusion criteria for the study. They were contacted by mail and telephone and asked if they would like to participate.

The study included an invite only website designed to teach the children with CHD about the new clinic at Toronto General and virtually introduce them to their new doctors and nurses. The website had gamified components such as a scavenger hunt and interactive maps and videos about both the staff and typical congenital heart diseases. In total 34% of eligible patients logged into the website and completed the baseline surveys. 95% reported the website was easy to use, gave information they could trust and was useful.


The conclusion of the study demonstrated a strong feasibility of the iHeartChange website. Adolescent feedback was extremely positive and we learned that transitioning patient’s informational needs goes beyond their cardiac condition.

Armed with the results of the study the cardiac clinic received additional funding from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre innovation Fund to update the website and open it up for general use for v2. Utilizing the power of Microsoft .NET technologies and SQL Server Brushfire North set to work updating the existing site by creating new animations for common heart defects, opening up the registration system to allow anyone to register and log in, updating the survey mechanics and survey content and numerous other functional and content related updates.

The site was then hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform which provides us the opportunity to easily deploy and scale up as needed. We relaunched version 2 of iHeartChange on November 14, 2014. You can visit the website here.


Article in Canadian Healthcare Network
Peter Munk Press Release
AHA journals Abstract
YouTube Channel

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