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Over $1M invested in research to support virtual care solutions to Saskatchewan health challenges

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Saskatoon - With the strain of the pandemic weighing on many aspects of the health system and how people have been able to access care over the past year, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) has invested a total of over $1M to support interdisciplinary research teams to develop, implement and evaluate virtual care approaches to many of the health challenges our province faces.

Four Impact grants were awarded for virtual care approaches for Northern Indigenous communities to access chronic musculoskeletal care; for an intensive care unit follow-up clinic; for a patient empowerment resource; and as a platform for Indigenous health decision-making and data sovereignty.

Innovation grants were awarded for projects varying from exploring virtual reality to support mental health and well-being of Northern Indigenous youth, to a homecare ordering tool that could support aging in place. Others are evaluating virtual approaches when it comes to developing multidisciplinary preoperative assessments or facilitating patient and family-centred care in the ICU. Other teams will be looking at incorporating or evaluating virtual technology when it comes to supporting the experiences and needs of youth with congenital heart disease, patients living with chronic kidney disease, individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, and speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the province.

Two Innovation grants were awarded in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan. The projects will look at different aspects of virtual access to information, services and support for caregivers of Indigenous Peoples living with dementia, with a focus on improving quality of life for persons with dementia, caregivers, families and communities.

The grants were awarded as part of SHRF’s new Solutions Program that aims to mobilize the research community and its partners to focus and coordinate their diverse skills and perspectives to address timely Saskatchewan health challenges.

“This program allows for flexibility and responsiveness and keeps Saskatchewan health needs at its core,” says SHRF CEO, Patrick Odnokon. “We work with our partner and stakeholders’ input and look at current trends to ensure the program remains focused on supporting our local expertise to find local solutions in areas that will have the most impact for the most people in the province.”

“These research teams are taking innovative approaches to applying technology as a solution for the unprecedented health challenges presented by the pandemic,” says Minister Jeremy Harrison, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan. “This work will also have an impact and continue to serve the people of Saskatchewan beyond the pandemic and that is the true value of this investment.”

About SHRF

SHRF is the provincial funding agency that funds, supports and promotes the impact of health research that matters to Saskatchewan. SHRF collaborates with stakeholders to contribute to the growth of a high-performing health system, culture of innovation and the improved health of citizens by strengthening research capacity and competitiveness, increasing the investment in health research in Saskatchewan and aligning research with the needs of our stakeholders.


For more information:

Nikki Desjardins, Engagement Specialist, SHRF


Funded Projects

Full details, including team members, project summaries, etc., will be listed in our searchable database at

Impact Grant Recipients

Tarun Reddy Katapally

Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina

Amount: $150,000

Project: CO-Away: Implementation and Evaluation of a Virtual Care Platform for Indigenous Health Decision-Making and Data Sovereignty

Co-Principal Investigator: Kelly Skinner

Bridget Klest

Faculty of Arts, University of Regina

Amount: $133,150

Project: Help for People Who Have Been Hurt by Healthcare: Creating and Evaluating an Online Resource

Stacey Lovo

College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $149,987

Project: Empowering Northern Indigenous Communities to Ensure Equitable, Appropriate and Community-based Access to Chronic Musculoskeletal Care using Virtual Technology

Co-Principal Investigator: Brenna Bath, Scotty Butcher, Jaris Swidrovich

Eric Sy

College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $150,000

Project: Evaluation of the effect of a virtual intensive care unit follow-up clinic on patient outcomes among ICU survivors that have been discharged home (Vi-DISH)

Co-Principal Investigator: Vincent Lau, Stephen Lee, Jonathan Mailman

Innovation Grant Recipients

Lindsey Boechler

School of Health Sciences, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Amount: $50,000

Project: Assessing the mental health support needs for Indigenous adolescents residing in northern Saskatchewan: A community based participatory action research study exploring the potential use of virtual reality technology to promote mental health and wellbeing

Co-Principal Investigator: Terry Peckham, Mya Ruelling

Jonathan Gamble

College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $49,739

Project: Using Implementation Science to Develop, Pilot, and Evaluate a Multidisciplinary Preoperative Assessment in Saskatchewan

Co-Principal Investigator: Jennifer O'Brien

Gary Groot

College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $48,714

Project: Engaging Caregivers of Persons with Dementia in the Virtual Delivery of and Access to Health Information and Services

Co-Principal Investigator: Carrie Bourassa

Funded in Partnership with Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan

Ramona Kyabaggu

Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina

Amount: $50,000

Project: Engineering and Evaluating a Patient-oriented Home Care Ordering Tool to Enhance Aging in Place During the COVID Era

Co-Principal Investigator: Cheryl Camillo, Tim Maciag

Laureen McIntyre

College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $44,173

Project: Budget Cuts, the Northern-Rural-Urban Divide, and the Pandemic Response: Exploring Speech-Language Pathologists’ and Audiologists’ Perceptions and Experiences of in Person and Telepractice Therapeutic Health and Education Services in Saskatchewan

Megan O’Connell

College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $50,000

Project: Culturally Safe Caregiver Support Groups for Caregivers of Indigenous Peoples Living with Dementia

Co-Principal Investigator: Gail Boehme

Funded in Partnership with Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan

Tracie Risling

College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $43,382

Project: Using Virtual Reality to Address Persistent Chronic Kidney Care Challenges in Saskatchewan

Co-Principal Investigator: Don Leidl

Noelle Rohatinsky

College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $47,452

Project: Exploring the use of virtual care in Saskatchewan in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease and gastroenterologist care providers

Co-Principal Investigator: Juan-Nicolas Pena-Sanchez

Corey Tomczak

College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $50,000

Project: Targeting Vascular Health with Handgrip Exercise for Adolescents and Emerging Adults with Congenital Heart Disease: A Novel Rehabilitation Intervention to Enable Effective Virtual Care

Co-Principal Investigator: T. Dylan Olver

Sabira Valianni

College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Amount: $45,771

Project: Connect-ICU: Using technology to facilitate patient and family-centered care, enhance communication, and build relationships between patients, their loved ones, and the healthcare team in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Co-Principal Investigator: Carrie Bourassa, Jennifer O'Brien, Salima Suleman


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