Digital Health | AI | VR

Digital Health | AI | VR

Digital Health: Children's Journey

Children’s Journey is a communication application that facilitates informed and shared decision-making between patients, families, and surgical teams.

The initial focus will be improving experience and outcomes for children undergoing surgery, but the app will be expanded to several other areas of children’s healthcare. The app will accompany the families from the moment they are referred to a surgeon, during appointments, while waiting for their surgery or appointments and – especially – during the entire period after the surgery or clinic visits. The medical or surgical encounter will be identified as a journey with various modules for each stage – whether pre-operatively and post-operatively, or inpatient and post-discharge. The app is first developed in English and French, with Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish to be added in version 2.

It is important to encourage and empower our young patients to have the knowledge to advocate for their care and be better prepared. As such, a unique “children’s companion app” will be created in version 2, accompanying the children through their own age-based journey at the same time with their caregivers.

Version 2 is also planned to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) to continuously monitor and track communication patterns and preferences, making it progressively more responsive to each patient’s needs. Eventually, the goal is for the app to result in true personalized communication between the families and the healthcare team.


Pediatric trauma kills one million children worldwide each year and is the leading cause of childhood mortality and disability in several countries. The most significant errors in pediatric trauma care are consistently related to a lack of proper communication and leadership. Such errors can lead to misdiagnosis even in relatively common situations such as shock or intra-abdominal injuries.

Our lab has developed PetitVR – Pediatric Trauma Innovative Training in Virtual Reality – to fill this critical gap in pediatric trauma education. It is a VR educational platform, comprising both technical and non-technical skills such as pediatric trauma assessment, surgical procedures in trauma care, communication, leadership, teamwork, situational awareness, and decision-making. Moreover, our project is the only currently available pediatric multiplayer immersive trauma educational platform, uses ample debriefing, is highly cost-effective and accessible.

Artificial & augmented Intelligence

The AI revolution in healthcare is no longer aspirational – it is a reality that has entered every healthcare domain and specialty, with multiple benefits and complex challenges. Yet beyond both hype and angst, AI is our only current opportunity to overcome our current shallow medicine limitations and move towards deep medicine – diagnosing and treating patients with precision by incorporating their entire multi-omic (clinical, genetic, and social) make-up in the process.

Our intention to leverage technology and AI in surgical care has resulted in studies in several healthcare AI domains:

Data science & ML for disease classification and scoring

  • grading perforated appendicitis in the ED using ML

NLP in the EMR

  • use of NLP for automatic labelling of ultrasound reports

NLP use in medical literature

  • abstract summarization and knowledge discovery within the PubMed corpus

Computer vision in healthcare

  • diagnosis of Hirschsprung Diseases from contrast X-rays and pathology slides
  • diagnosis of wound infections using patient photos

Reinforcement learning

  • personalized surgical care using RL-based training within the patient communication app

Multi-modal fusion for deep patient care

  • applying deep learning models to multi-modal EMR, mHealth, and wearable data for democratizing healthcare for LMICs

Awards and recognition for our digital health platforms

The Children’s Journey app (previously called Journey of Surgery) won the 2nd place prize for Health Sciences, Enterprise Track at the 2021 Dobson Cup.

PetitVR has earned the Trottier-Webster award for the top innovation at the MUHC Research Institute in 2022, and was a finalist at TechConnect Readiness Innovation Competition, for the Department of Defense in Washington, DC, and has also earned 3rd place at McGill’s Dobson Competition.