Last week I attended a Canadian Healthcare Association (CHA) awards luncheon that honoured outstanding achievement by students in various courses offered by CHA . The keynote speaker for the event talked to the students and other guest about leadership, a topic of considerable importance in the health sector. A key attribute of successful leaders, according to the speaker, is the ability to put the right people into the right positions. He reminded the audience that the leader’s job isn’t to try to do everything themselves. Rather, it is to create an organization in which people understand what they need to do, have the appropriate skills to do what is asked of them, and can work together as a team towards a common goal.
As I listened to the speaker I thought about the new eHealth Ontario agency. Over the past few months a number of the former Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA) executives have left eHealth Ontario, either on their own account or because they were asked to leave. According to several sources the latest person to depart is Mike Rigo. As a result, eHealth Ontario has a number of senior level vacancies to fill. Since I agree with the luncheon speaker’s comments about putting the right people in the right position, the selection process at eHealth Ontario is of critical importance to the future success of the agency. The decision to hire Donna Strating as Senior VP seems to be an example of good choice. Feedback from hospital eHealth leaders with whom I have spoken about Ms. Strating is very positive. They have been very impressed with their dealings with her to date and they are quite enthusiastic about her potential future contributions.
I always believed that SSHA was hamstrung by the division of responsiblility for operations and strategy / policy that existed between SSHA and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC). Saskatchewan tried a similar approach with the Saskacthewan Health Information Network (SHIN) and found it necessarily to merge SHIN with Ministry of Health staff responsible for eHealth to create the Health Information Solutions Centre (HISC). Neil Garnder, Executive Director for HISC, cited the need to more closely align strategy and operations as a major reason for creating HISC. Hence, I think that the Ontario eHealth agency is in a much better position to advance the Ontario eHealth agenda than was SSHA.
Mark and I are following with great interest the hiring decisions at the Ontario eHealth Agency. Getting the right people into the right roles at the agency is perhaps the most important determinant of future success.