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Canadian Nurses Association launches bold initiative to support mobile nursing technologies in First Nations communities

Ottawa, December 12, 2016 — The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is preparing to launch an innovative mobile health app that will empower nurses working in First Nations communities to better focus on their clients rather than paperwork. Ultimately, it will lead to better care and better health for the clients nurses serve.

Nurses will be provided with free, cloud-based mobile technology to more securely and easily capture, update and share information. The Health First app, which will replace the current paper-based system, will initially be tested by nurses employed by the band council who work with hepatitis C clients. The system could later be expanded to support care for clients with other infectious and chronic diseases.

This program is made possible through a multilateral collaboration that brings unique and essential components to the initiative. The Big River First Nation in Saskatchewan, whose nurses provide primary care to over 3,000 clients, will serve as the launch site. CNA is spearheading communication and information sharing while building a partnership that brings on board the necessary expertise. Carleton University’s 1125@Carleton social innovation hub will contribute research expertise, and the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) will use the project to help strengthen Indigenous nurses’ expertise in research. The technology, developed by Ottawa-based not-for-profit Heath First, will be supported by Hitachi Canada.

Active in the co-design of the Health First app, Big River First Nation nurses will begin using it in the coming weeks and, following successful pilot-testing, will move to full implementation in the new year.

“Ready access to information is essential for nurses to deliver the best care to patients, and the Health First app will greatly enable nurses,” said CNA president Barb Shellian. “We are extremely excited about the involvement of Big River First Nation and the potential to eventually share this solution with other communities across Canada.”

CINA president Lisa Bourque Bearskin said, “It is our priority to ensure that Indigenous approaches and nursing knowledge improve access to health education. We look forward to collaborating with 1125@Carleton to study and report on a highly successful program that has the potential to make a difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples.”

John MacBeth, president and CEO of Health First, added, “The Health First team is committed to supporting nurses in First Nations communities. We believe that with over 90 per cent of all primary care delivered by nurses this is where the greatest impact on health services can be achieved. We can think of no better partnership to bring this vision to life. Upside-down thinking, disruptive approaches and close collaboration are our core philosophies, and we will persist until First Nation nursing solutions realize significant innovative service improvements.”

“Hitachi is a firm believer in driving innovation and collaboration across ecosystems to enable better quality of care,” said Tyson Roffey, head of Canadian health-care solutions and social innovations at Hitachi Canada. “We look forward to this tremendous collaboration and making a positive impact in the Canadian health-care space.”


The Canadian Nurses Association is the national professional voice representing over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

For more information, please contact:
Kevin Ménard
Communications Advisor
Canadian Nurses Association
Tel.: 613-237-2159, ext. 543
E-mail: kmenard@cna-aiic.ca