Over 33,000 Canadians have died of Covid-19, most of whom were alone in the hospital or in long-term care homes known for poor conditions and mistreatment of residents. Against the backdrop of a long-existing labour shortage, health care workers’ resilience and compassion are being tested, and many are quitting. It’s a crisis!

"Our admissions assessments and software solutions are helping healthcare education programs make sense of their data so they can improve their program and student outcomes"

So how do we ensure a future with technically capable, compassionate, and resilient health care workers? At Altus Assessments, we believe it begins with higher education. That means selecting the best applicants to become students, and then nurturing those students to realize their full potential.

What admissions was missing
We’ve long known the importance of “bedside manner” among health care workers and their impact on patient outcomes, but evaluating this quality is challenging. Research shows 50 per cent of people believe health care providers are not compassionate enough. Another study concluded physicians and resident trainees miss 70 per cent of opportunities to provide compassionate care, while over half of physicians in another study said they simply don’t have time for compassion. This compassion problem — compounded by systemic burnout — increases the chances of misdiagnoses and patients not following medical advice.

Burnt out health care workers need more support now, but we also know this is a difficult industry in the best of times. We need to look for people who are motivated, patient-centred, and resilient to withstand the job’s day-to-day pressures. The reality is that traditional metrics like GPA and MCAT don’t assess these qualities. What’s more, these measures tend to be barriers for minority applicants, and the health care system needs diverse care providers to support marginalized communities.

Our data-driven solution
These shortcomings in admissions led to the birth of Altus Assessments in 2014 and its first product, Casper. Built on years of scientific research, this online situational judgement test has helped hundreds of programs evaluate applicants for professionalism and social intelligence. Since then, the company has introduced two complementary assessments: Snapshot, a structured one-way video interview that further probes applicants’ motivation and communication skills, and Duet, a value alignment assessment that compares what applicants value in a program to what the program has to offer. All of this assessment data is provided to programs on a platform where they can analyze results and make more informed decisions on who to select.

After admissions is just as important
While progress continues to be made in helping these institutions look at applicants more holistically, we know that shaping the next generation of health care professionals goes beyond who we select for training. That’s why Altus acquired One45 in 2021. One45’s. software helps medical schools in North America make sense of their abundant data to meet increasingly demanding accreditation requirements, improve their admissions processes and program operations, manage and support their students’ learning development, and establish effective curricula.

Rich Emrich, CEO of Altus Assessments, explains that this acquisition was a major step forward for the company. “Bringing these companies together and combining our digital solutions for health care education helps these programs address the student’s entire journey, empowering their professional development as they pursue their dreams.”

Helping higher education institutions become more data-driven and equipping their admissions and training programs with reliable software and trusted research has contributed to our company’s massive growth. We are now 150 employees strong, serving almost 500 academic programs and hundreds of thousands of students globally, which is why we’re listed as one of Canada’s top growing companies and one of Canada’s 50 fastest-growing technology companies.

“We’re proud of how far we’ve come,” says Rich. “And we’ll continue to come up with innovative solutions to bring the human side of health-care education back into focus.”


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