As the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic increases, the potential of digital health interventions and cooperative solutions to increase access to reliable public health information and address unmet mental health needs has become clear. More so, it has become an imperative to offer simple and effective tools backed by trained healthcare professionals to address an immediate and imminent crisis. This helps mitigate trust issues related to engaging with digital technology. .

The CISEPO Executive Director and Dr. Shafi Bhuyian from the University of Toronto and Ryerson University have co-created a COVID-19 rapid response program that helps improve communication and coordination while supporting the Canadian economy by creating essential jobs for an under-utilized workforce.

CISEPO is collaborating with Klick Health, Ryerson University’s the ITMD Program and ITMDs Alumni Network, The Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, the Toronto Global Doctors Lions Club International Dist A711, ON, The Moriarty Lab, Laboratory and Pathology Medicine at the University of Toronto, The Ontario Medical Students Association (OMSA), and The Ontario Public Health Students Association to develop a hybrid solution of person to person support from a macro-task trained public health cohort and a digital intervention.

This solution will enhance access to information and support for under-served communities while reducing the number of patients seeking care in the hospital system for COVID-19. While complimenting existing platforms and initiatives by public health organizations, this initiative is designed to expedite the process of providing virtual contact tracing, direction for those who are already in the system for COVID-19 assessment, and enhanced access to direct and personalized mental health support.

Internationally Trained Medical Doctors (ITMD) and Indigenous Community Health Workers (ICHW) are integrated into the program along with allied health, medical students, and public health students who are then able to address underserved communities whose needs are typically met last. Foreign trained medical professionals often have valuable linguistic and cultural skills that enable rapid response within Canada’s diverse population.