Women’s College Hospital Launches First of Its Kind Virtual Care Laboratory

Toronto, ON— March 4, 2021 — Today Women’s College Hospital (WCH) is proud to announce funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for the development of the Women’s Virtual Care Research Laboratory. WCH is among 60 universities, colleges and research hospitals across Canada that have been selected by CFI as part of the Government of Canada’s investment in innovative, world-class research. 

WCH will create a research laboratory that produces and tests digital health tools and virtual models of care in a real-world environment, to maximize their potential benefit to the health of Canadians, and communities globally. The virtual care laboratory will include a “research command centre” for research staff and trainees, a “sim lab” dedicated to simulations and training, as well as a “live lab” where tools and models of care will be integrated into WCH’s electronic health record system for testing within routine healthcare flows. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for on-going innovation in our health system”, explained Dr. David Urbach, chief of surgery at WCH, senior scientist and project co-lead. “The overnight application of virtual care across Canada was essential and an important demonstration of our system’s ability to innovative rapidly. However, there remains a lack of research on the safety and effectiveness of many of these tools and models of care.”  

“Our research team is focused on testing digital tools and models of care that have the potential to create large-scale disruptive change in ambulatory settings”, added Dr. Simone Vigod, WCH’s chief of psychiatry, senior scientist and project co-lead. “The laboratory will focus on enhancing care in four critical areas: the mental health of vulnerable populations, surgery, healthy aging and the coordination of primary and specialty care”. 

This unique “living laboratory” approach has not been implemented before in any academic health sciences centre in the country. As a result, the team is particularly well-positioned to explore opportunities for spread and scale in both local and international settings, accelerating virtual care more broadly to improve health outcomes and experiences.  

“Today’s announcement is a continuation and demonstration of our commitment to innovation and research excellence. Women’s Virtual, Canada’s first virtual hospital, is transforming the way we provide care to our patients. The laboratory’s research will enhance not only WCH’s virtual care services but will support advancements in virtual care across Canada,” said Dr. Sacha Bhatia, chief medical innovation officer and interim executive lead, academics at WCH.

About Women’s Virtual, Canada’s First Virtual Hospital 

At Women’s College Hospital we are revolutionizing healthcare for the 21st century to deliver better access, improved outcomes and next level patient experience. As part of our commitment to innovation and continual improvement, we launched Women’s Virtual – Canada’s first virtual hospital, earlier this year. 

Women’s Virtual is integrating a variety of digital health tools, like online peer support groups and video visits, into WCH’s existing clinical areas, allowing us to treat and care for patients in the setting most appropriate for them. A virtual hospital powered by digital tools, the latest technology and new models of care allows us to remove barriers encountered by providers and patients alike.


About Women’s College Hospital

For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of health equity, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs. The WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole.


About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

For more than 20 years, the CFI has been giving researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. Fostering a robust innovation system in Canada translates into jobs and new enterprises, better health, cleaner environments and, ultimately, vibrant communities. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI also helps to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers and to support world-class research that strengthens the economy and improves the quality of life for all Canadians.



Jordan Benadiba

Communications Specialist | Women’s College Hospital 

T: 416-323-6400 ext.3210 | E: jordan.benadiba@wchospital.ca