Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Ashley Miller

Ashley Miller

Halifax general internist Dr. Ashley Miller is passionate about health system transformation leveraged by technology. When the pandemic struck, she used her expertise in virtual care to push the boundaries of traditional medicine.

She established the COVID-19 Community Virtual Care Team — the province’s first remote monitoring program — to support patients with COVID-19 at home. This groundbreaking program provides portable pulse oximeters to patients to enable them to measure and track their oxygen levels. The program also provides support to patients in self-managing their symptoms, including connecting them urgently with a physician if they require hospital admission.

“We recognized very early on that sometimes people can have quite low oxygen levels, but they don’t really feel it,” explains Dr. Miller. “The goal is to intervene early to prevent adverse outcomes.”

Remote monitoring also allows some patients to bypass the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre emergency department when they need inpatient treatment by facilitating direct admissions to the COVID-19 unit. “That’s a pretty incredible feat,” she says.

Thanks to her track record of achieving positive system results through digital innovation, Dr. Miller was named the chief medical information officer (CMIO) for Nova Scotia in January 2021. Her colleagues have also acknowledged the difference that her work has made.

“She was a key influencer of rapid action to enhance virtual care delivery in response to the pandemic.” – Dr. Nabha Shetty, Dalhousie University

Transforming health care delivery

Dr. Miller’s work to modernize health care in Nova Scotia began back in 2017.

After completing her residency, she returned home to Halifax to join Dalhousie University’s Division of General Internal Medicine and lead their ambulatory care program.

Back then, routine wait times for non-urgent referrals exceeded nine months. Using quality improvement techniques — including a complete overhaul of administrative workflows to streamline bookings and referrals — Dr. Miller was able to decrease routine waits to less than two months.

Key to her success was the transformation of the referral system to promote virtual care including virtual patient visits and MD-to-MD collaboration through eConsults. The foundation laid by this work enabled the division to rapidly respond to the pandemic by seamlessly transitioning to mostly virtual methods of ambulatory care.

“She quickly established herself as a provincial leader on eHealth and is driving change toward a more modern and patient-centred future,” explains Dr. Shetty.

Dr. Ashley Miller is receiving the CMA Award for Young Leaders (Early Career) in recognition of her exemplary creativity, initiative and commitment to making a difference at the local, provincial/territorial or national level.

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