Ambassador Profile – Alexandre Chagnon
Alexandre is a licensed pharmacist in Canada and holds a Telehealth Facilitator Certificate from Jefferson University in Philadelphia, USA. He is the chairman and founder of askyourpharmacist.ca, an award-winning store-and-forward telehealth platform based in Canada, and also co-owner of therappx.com, a platform on which both patients and healthcare providers (HCP) can learn about digital therapeutics.
Despite his young age, Alexandre is recognized by his peers as one of Canada’s most innovative HCPs. In 2017, he was awarded the Innovation Award from the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec, and in 2018, he received the Merck Patients First Award. He was also a guest speaker at the 2017 Innovation Showcase held by the Canadian Pharmacists Association and became an International Society of Telemedecine and eHealth member around the same moment.
Since 2017, Alexandre works as a health columnist for Virage, a magazine distributed to more than 430,000 families all across the province of Quebec, and he co-authored 3 articles about the outcomes generated by the telehealth platform he funded and on which he still accompanies more than 160 pharmacists. Finally, he sits as a Quebec Health Government Advisory Committee member since the beginning of 2018.
1. Tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and what you’re doing now.
Thanks! I am really excited about the opportunity to represent DigitalHealthToday in Canada. I have a clinical background. I am a licensed pharmacist in Quebec, Canada since 2013 and hold a Telehealth Facilitator Certificate acquired last year at Jefferson University in Philadelphia, US. I've been involved for the past 3 years in the development and the promotion of a patient-facing telehealth platform called Ask your pharmacist. I am the founder of that platform that gathers more than 160 pharmacists toward a unique goal, making sure patients on Internet have access to reliable information when they need it. Right now, I am also working on a way to solve a common challenge faced by both clinicians and consumers: not knowing what to look for and trust when seeking digital tools in the rapidly changing healthcare technology environment we evolve in. The project name is called TherAppX. I am also completing a Master Degree in Health Informatics.
2. How did you get involved with digital health?
I first got involved when I was still an intern. I had the opportunity to see how bad information found on the Internet. It all started when I was still an intern in 2013. I noticed that a lot of my patients were seeking health- and drug-related information online and that there were too few health care professionals out there to make sure they got the right information. Actually, some of those patients were following advices they read on Internet, which result in very poor outcomes for them. It is at that point that I decided to call myself an “on-call pharmacist” and created a website to start providing teleconsultations using SMS-like technologies. The service was and still is free for patients and every consultation is anonymized in order to be published afterward and reach a maximum number of patients. Eight months after that ah-ha moment, we were more than 50 on-call pharmacists available for patients. Together, we provided reliable information to more than 36,000 patients in the last 18 months only.
3. Tell us about where you come from and some of the health and technology innovation that’s happening there.
I come from a rural part of Canada. I had first access to Internet and a computer when I was 12. I don't recall any health technology innovations before I entered college in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. In my opinion, for the past 10 years or so, very few innovations have entered the broad health technology field. Innovators were creating great products and services, but had no other choice that to stay outside of healthcare institutions. But that is about to change. Canada is moving fast to incorporate digital innovation in the care patients receive.
4. What are some of the top things other health innovators should know about where you live now?
As I mentioned, Canada is now on the fast track to empower patients in the care they receive. It recently announce the creation of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Digital Health Technologies. Quebec, the province in which I live, also recently created the Health and Social Service Innovation Support Fund to help businesses acquired insights about their products and services real-world evidence. In other words, this fund is used to match businesses with healthcare institutions in order to spread innovation all across Quebec.