Nathan Skolski

Email: nathanskolski@okmain.cms.ok.ubc.ca


 

Jennifer Davis hopes to use applied health economics to improve elderly patient care.

Applied health economics and patient partnerships can pinpoint cost-effective lifestyle interventions

Health economics might not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to treating elderly patients, but it is just one of the innovations being used by clinically applied health economist Jennifer Davis to help improve care among seniors. Davis, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Management at UBC’s Okanagan campus, is being supported this year with a 2020 Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). She discusses her ground-breaking investigations into cost-effective measures that improve quality of life for seniors and relieve economic burdens on the health-care system.

What are some of the challenges with working with older adult populations?

We know that we can prevent falls, and that we can prevent them in a way that provides the health-care system with good value for money. The big struggle is that lifestyle interventions are often fraught with low adherence—meaning the patient may not typically follow through with the prescribed recommendations. An innovative component of my program is working with seniors directly as patient partners and as patient participants to get their views on what they think will help improve adherence. We use that data to develop a model for interventions that we believe, or know, to be effective.

Research often collects data from subjects and then moves on. How is your research different?

We’re working with a subgroup of seniors that are participating as patient partners in helping shape the research study, offering feedback on study protocol, procedures and insights into what areas to investigate. They act as co-investigators and form part of our research team, as opposed to simply providing us with data as a research participant. There's a movement now to include patients as partners in research because of the unique and essential perspectives they provide. One challenge with this elderly population is the higher likelihood of having cognitive or mobility impairments. So, through a funding opportunity provided by the BC Support Unit, we have now developed a new approach for working with these frail older adults who are more vulnerable, to get their feedback on our research process that we hope will ultimately enable us to deliver feasible and translatable interventions to this population.

Health economics and patient partnership is a unique combination. How can this combination of approaches help prevent injury in senior populations?

I will explore the application of clinically applied health economic methods to predict the efficiency of different clinical interventions for specific subgroups of individuals. In the end, it may help us tailor health policy recommendations to specific groups of patients or individuals. This work has the potential to be felt around the globe. Falls are the leading cause of chronic disability, injury and mortality worldwide, placing a heavy burden on health-care systems. According to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors, with direct health-care costs reaching an estimated $2 billion annually.

What do you hope to achieve with your research?

I've always been passionate about working with older adults. As a kid, I always enjoyed hearing stories from older adults about their life experiences. Over the years, I have witnessed struggles that the elderly experience as they age—not just loneliness, but declines in mobility and cognition that lead to frailty and the loss of independence. The ultimate goal for me is to conduct research that can improve the quality of life of older people here in Canada and around the world.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Students gain valuable experience partnering with professors in undergraduate research

Food security, senior fall prevention and online consumer behaviour are among areas of research being investigated through the summer by seven undergraduates from UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Management.

The recipients, who range from first- to fourth-year students, are receiving supports through one of four Management Undergraduate Research Awards (MURA), two International Undergraduate Research Awards (IURA) and a Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada (RSEDIC) award. The awards support undergraduate students in gaining exceptional learning experiences in hands-on research with faculty supervisors. The awards are also providing financial and academic security to the recipients at a time when COVID-19 has affected the ability of many students to find in summer jobs.

“We are proud to be able to offer our undergraduate students these opportunities to engage more deeply with their studies and gain valuable new research skills,” says Roger Sugden, dean of the Faculty of Management. “The experiences these students will gain over the coming months will serve them well in their future, in their academic studies and beyond.”

Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working on a literature review about fall prevention among seniors to help increase adherence to prevention protocols.

Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working on a literature review about fall prevention among seniors to help increase adherence to prevention protocols.

Shree Nithi Santhagunam, student in the Faculty of Management, says her MURA meant she could remain in the Okanagan and continue her learning through the summer. “Lots of my friends couldn't find jobs over the summer,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to be involved in this project.”

Santhagunam is working with Jennifer Davis, assistant professor in the Faculty of Management, on research into how to better prevent falls among seniors and increase adherence to prevention protocols. In addition, she is also assisting Davis on research into the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on tenured and tenure-track research faculty across Canada.

“Every time I work with students, I learn so much from all of the skill and talent that they bring to the table, and from their life perspectives as well,” says Davis. “It's been very enriching for me to work with Nithi and to learn from her viewpoints and the experience she’s had in her life and her studies. It’s exciting to see students who are working to develop some interests and passions in areas that, maybe, they hadn't anticipated.”

While all award recipients are conducting research virtually, the students and researchers remain connected through video conferences, email, and phone calls. The students also take part in weekly workshops, team meetings and peer discussions.

“It feels like I’m getting paid to learn,” says Mohana Rambe, whose RSEDIC award is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm, supervised by Eric Li, associate professor in the Faculty of Management. “I'm getting back much more than what I'm giving.”

Faculty of Management undergraduate research projects taking place this summer

Patrick Feng is working with Assistant Professor Ying Zhu to analyze how touchscreens affect consumers' purchasing decisions. His project is supported by an IURA.

Shiven Vinod Khera is working with Associate Professor Eric Li on analyzing how non-metropolitan and rural regions can have greater health equity and food security during disruptive events, such as COVID-19, wildfires and flooding. This project is being supported by a MURA.

Mohana Rambe is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm.

Mohana Rambe is supporting her research into inventory management systems for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen’s Acres Community Farm.

Mohana Rambe is working with Associate Professor Eric Li and Assistant Professor Amir Ardestani-Jaafari on implementing and assessing a new inventory management system with the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Helen's Acres Community Farm. This project is supported by the RSEDIC.

Shree Nithi Santhagunam is working with Assistant Professor Jennifer Davis on a comprehensive literature review on fall prevention among seniors to increase adherence to prevention protocols. This project is supported by a MURA.

Vinil Sood is working with Assistant Professor Amir Ardestani-Jaafari and Associate Professor Eric Li to systematically review food bank operations to explore food inventory management methodologies and food waste management. This project is supported by a MURA.

Gabriel Tan is working with Assistant Professor David Walker to investigate whether the audio characteristics of customer voices in service interactions predict that the customer will mistreat the employee later in the interaction. This project is supported by an IURA.

Beyond Zhao is working with Assistant Professor Ying Zhu to investigate how using touchscreen devices versus non-touchscreen devices influences consumers’ judgment and decision making. This project is supported by a MURA.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Winners of this year's Faculty of Management Live Case Challenge (from left): Gabrielle Schroeder, Maulen Zairov, Jonathan Zhang, Breann Zilkey and Shaina Johnstone.

Winners of this year's Faculty of Management Live Case Challenge (from left): Gabrielle Schroeder, Maulen Zairov, Jonathan Zhang, Breann Zilkey and Shaina Johnstone.

Ninth Live Case Challenge brings new solutions to Patriot One

UBC Okanagan students Shaina Johnstone, Gabrielle Schroeder, Maulen Zairov, Jonathan Zhang and Breann Zilkey won the ninth annual UBC Faculty of Management Live Case Challenge, an intensely collaborative learning experience that sparks new thinking about a complex business challenge.

Each year the Faculty of Management (FoM) at UBC Okanagan and partner Argus Properties Ltd. present a unique made-in-the-Okanagan opportunity—the Live Case Challenge—where 176 UBC Management students work in teams to take on an actual ‘live’ management challenge faced by a community partner. In just six weeks, students must analyze the challenge and develop innovative solutions – with only the very best of the 35 competitor teams winning the prestigious Argus Cup, a $5,000 student award and a big résumé boost.

Focused solutions

Finding a solution for the client is only the beginning of the adventure for student teams. There’s no declaring success until the teams have pitched their ideas to the judges in multiple playoff-style rounds. The judging panel is composed of professors, alumni, and partner representatives. The panel evaluates each team’s analysis, innovation and overall presentation. Just four teams compete in the final round, while the whole class and community partner look on. And only one team wins the Argus Cup and $5,000 — but all students involved in Live Case help an Okanagan business to grow, and they all take a big step toward being ready to take a UBC Management degree into a rewarding career.

After weeks of intensive research and collaboration, and a serious case of nerves while presenting their case, the winning team proudly held the Argus Cup in the air and breathed an enormous sigh of relief. Team member Shaina Johnstone is quick to point out that, “it wasn’t about the win—that’s not what we were going for, it was about the experience.”

The other winner of the night was this year’s industry participant Patriot One who benefited from the exceptional research, hard work, and unique solutions all of the teams presented. The winning team advised Patriot One to focus on consolidation of production in a Toronto facility well-placed to access the nearly $1 trillion USD safety and security market on the Eastern Seaboard, helping the company to gain market penetration sooner than previously planned. Chief Executive Officer Martin Cronin spoke with genuine enthusiasm for all of the effort students had put into their presentations: “I was delighted to support Live Case, not just as a statement of support for our partner at UBCO but for the true value that I knew it would bring. I was not disappointed. The teams brought rigour, insight and practicality to the challenge. They should all be very proud.”

For Ted Callahan, CEO of Argus Properties, Live Case is, “seeing the excitement of the students and their enthusiasm for the challenge,” that continues to inspire him year over year. “On behalf of Argus, I would like to congratulate the faculty, all the participating students, and the multitude of volunteers that all contribute to the success of Live Case. It's an amalgam of a lot of people's efforts and it doesn't happen overnight. So, I'd like to congratulate everybody who's involved.”

Detect, defer, defend: Enhancing public safety

As a self-described ‘virtual organization’ with key corporate and manufacturing elements located across Canada and the United States, and a core of top executives based in Kelowna, BC, Patriot One has developed the modular PATSCAN platform of public safety threat-detection solutions. Rather than the usual ‘security-line shuffle’ where people screened one-by-one by staff using detection devices, PATSCAN uses a low-intensity, harmless, ‘cognitive microwave radar’ easily integrated into walls and doorways. PATSCAN identifies concealed weapons, bombs and other threats in high-traffic public venues such as arena, casino and airport entry points and corridors. Security staff are alerted only when a threat is detected, saving on detection, labour time and costs, and saving people from time-consuming waits in security screening zones. Development of PATSCAN technology has drawn on the capabilities of a four-university research consortium, in which a leading role has been played by UBC’s Survive and Thrive Research (UBC STAR) initiative.

As a new, cutting-edge, publicly listed tech company entering a growing US trillion-plus dollar industry, Patriot One Technologies offered a complex and compelling business case to third-year FoM students.

Live Case Challenge is a key program element of UBC’s Bachelor of Management program, created by the Faculty of Management in partnership with and funded by Kelowna-based Argus Properties Ltd. Each year the challenge is as varied as the community partner involved – whether it’s a for-profit business, a non-profit or a municipality, each partner brings students a management challenge beyond the ordinary, demanding effective teamwork drawing on each member’s skills and abilities.

As students join their assigned team, the clock is ticking. Teams have just a few weeks to dive into the community partner’s plans and operating environment, moving from understanding through analysis to development of solutions ready for use. Partners are happy to receive the plans but the benefit flows both ways. Students learn about the challenges and opportunities of sectors they may have only seen from a distance before the Live Case Challenge, and deliver actionable recommendations that the community partner may begin to implement just moments after the challenge-winners raise the Argus Cup.

Managing the case

Students in the Faculty of Management see the Live Case Challenge as a defining moment, a time to do their best while taking carefully judged risks. Dean Roger Sugden, believes these types of challenges are, “ideal for students to learn about real challenges and real timing, yet in a safe environment—they can make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and reflect on what they do, and how they do it.” The momentum of the challenge as the weeks go by can be felt in the faculty and, “the students feed off the excitement,” says Sugden. In the Live Case Challenge, the community partner and student teams both see how abstract ideas can drive creative and critical thinking to deliver new solutions. Sugden observes: “The Live Case Challenge highlights the Faculty of Management’s fundamental belief that universities and communities have to learn how to engage with each other, learn what each other does, and what each other needs.” 

About Argus Properties Ltd.

Proudly based in Kelowna, BC, Argus Properties Ltd. is a full-service, multi-department real-estate company offering a range of services, from project management, to leasing and construction.

From its inception, the Live Case Challenge partnership between UBCO FoM and Argus Properties Ltd. has tangibly delivered on the shared commitment to positively affect the Okanagan region by collaborating with and helping to develop ever-stronger and sustainable communities, businesses and organizations.

Ted Callahan, CEO of Argus Properties: “Argus is very proud to be associated with UBC and be a participant in the business community's interaction with UBC and the Faculty of Management. We see all kinds of great benefits that are trickling down to the region, the province, and certainly into Kelowna.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Open house explores new design and concept

What: Free public open house on co-housing development
When: Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kelowna Innovation Centre Theatre, 460 Doyle Ave.

Community housing is an old concept. But UBC Okanagan students are modernizing the idea with their creation of Kelowna’s first co-housing development plans, called the Aviary.

The engineering and management students and their faculty supervisor will be on hand at a free public open house to unveil the concept, designs and business model for what they say will be an evolution in sustainable housing for the region.

“Co-housing should not be confused with co-op, social or low-income housing,” says Gord Lovegrove, associate professor of engineering at UBC Okanagan and project leader. “The co-housing model typically involves 30 committed families who co-develop a property that clusters self-contained, smaller units around a central community dining and activity hall.”

Lovegrove says this community property helps to reduce costs but increases quality of life thanks to shared facilities like a community garden, social hall, craft room, workshop, toddler playroom and laundry.

“It’s an elegant solution because it addresses many housing issues simultaneously, from aging in place for seniors, to building a sense of community for those that otherwise might be socially isolated, to housing affordability for first-time home buyers,” says Lovegrove.

Development of the project was supported by fourth-year engineering and management students who were responsible for identifying potential locations, designing site layouts and determining development costs. The students also took charge of creating a viable business model for the project and managing its marketing.

“This is the culmination of two years of work and the team worked hard to create an innovative approach to an old idea,” says Lovegrove. “We’re excited to present the conceptual designs to the public and work with anyone interested in helping to make the project a reality.”

The open house begins at 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Kelowna Innovation Centre Theatre. A mini-design café will take place at 8 p.m. for those wishing to delve further the details or to become involved in the next steps.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca.