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Donna Harris
Manager, Public Relations & Digital Media
William Osler Health System

High school students help patients navigate Emergency Departments and Community Care with new “Emerg Master” mobile Android app

two boys standing beside a sign that says think outside the box

Students win national student app contest and $10,000 grand prize with new app that helps enhance patient experience

June 22, 2016, BRAMPTON/ETOBICOKE/ORANGEVILLE – Two 15-year old high school students got a crash course in emergency and community care recently, as they developed a new gaming app for use in emergency departments within the Central West region. This new Android app was developed as part of a national student app contest hosted by the Central West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), Headwaters Health Care Centre (Headwaters) and William Osler Health System (Osler).

The new app named ‘Emerg Master’ officially launched in front of dignitaries, health system leaders, donors and community members at Osler’s Annual General Meeting. During the meeting, the Central West CCAC, Headwaters and Osler awarded the winning team – Grade 9 students Caius Dobson and Jacob Luxton from Grey Highlands Secondary School in Flesherton, Ontario – with a $10,000 prize, generously sponsored by Vena Solutions.

Launched in January, the app contest challenged high school, undergraduate and graduate students to come up with a gaming app to help engage and educate the public on how to better access home, community and acute care in the communities served by the partner organizations. 

Emerg Master includes characters in both Headwaters and Osler emergency departments and offers detailed information about how the hospitals connect patients with community care, and the role that the CCAC can play in making sure patients with specific needs can find the care they require closer to home. It also provides helpful information about how the emergency departments work, to help users better understand processes and manage expectations when they arrive.

“We recognize that as smart phones increase in popularity and as we continue to turn to mobile apps to make things quicker and more efficient, we have a tremendous opportunity to leverage tools and technology to help patients and families better navigate their care experience,” said Susan deRyk, Joint Vice-President, Service Quality and Community Relations. “The ingenuity, determination and passion demonstrated by our winning student team is nothing short of inspirational. We are looking forward to using this app to help transform the patient experience across our organizations, and ensure our community has the important information they need, right at their fingertips. 

Emerg Master is available on Google Play as a free download for Android devices for use by patients. 

“We were absolutely blown away when we found out that we had won,” said Jacob. “It is very exciting and we can’t wait to share the completed app.” 

When asked what motivated them to participate in the contest, they described programming as not only a hobby, but also their passion.

“Our love for programming began when we started playing video games. Both of us find it extremely interesting, and hope to one day work as professional programmers,” said Caius. 

They will be awarded $10,000 at Osler’s AGM by Vena Solutions, a corporate performance management solutions company that sponsored the contest. 

"We're very proud to be a part of the contest, and to support the winning team,” said Don Mal, CEO, Vena Solutions. “At Vena, we know first-hand how valuable and influential our youngest team members can be. They're clearly not just the leaders of tomorrow, but already the innovators of today.”