Tag Archives: Canada Health Infoway

Why I attend the Canadian eHealth Conference

As winter ever so slowly releases its icy grip, my thoughts turn not only to spring and warmer weather but also to the approaching e-Health Conference. Since attending my first e-Health Conference in 2004, this event has become a tradition that I eagerly await with nearly the same anticipation I feel for major holidays. What is it about this Conference that makes it such a “must attend” event for me?

Check out the rest of the article on the eHealth conference blog … click here



COACH / HIMSS Ontario Update 2015

For the second year in a row COACH and HIMSS Ontario are hosting Ontario Update, a one day conference at which key public sector leaders share their insights and offer updates on local, regional and provincial eHealth initiatives.

Speakers at Ontario Update 2015  include Michael Green from Canada Health Infoway, Sarah Hutchison from OntarioMD, Peter Bascom from eHealth Ontario and Dr. Ed Brown from OTN.     The day will include a panel discussion on the current status of the various “connecting” projects: cGTA, cSWO, and cNEO.

I have been a member of the organizing committee for this conference since its inception.  Last year we sold out and had a waiting list of people who wanted to attend.   There are still tickets available for this year but, given the opportunity to connect with public sector leader, these tickets will go quickly.

You can find more details at:


You can register at: https://ams.coachorg.com/events/list.aspx

I am looking forward to this opportunity to meet with the health IT leaders whose work I track and write about.  I hope to see you there!


Pragmatic Interoperability

The idea for this article hit me so suddenly I was concerned that I might have uttered the title out loud in the middle of someone else’s presentation! I was attending an ITAC Health workshop on healthcare interoperability and was listening to Trevor Hodge, Executive Vice-President at Canada Health Infoway, introduce Infoway’s clinical interoperability strategy. When Mr. Hodge cited the Alberta NetCare Viewer as a highly successful example of interoperability that met clinicians’ needs, I realized that interoperability could take many forms and that a pragmatic approach may be the most appropriate short-term strategy.

Check out the remainder of this article at Technology for Doctors.


First impressions of Canada Health Infoway’s new CEO

Like many people in the Canadian Digital Health community, I was quite surprised this past June when the board of directors for Canada Health Infoway announced that they had selected Mr. Michael Green as their next President and Chief Executive Officer.

Uncharacteristically, I have had little to say on this appointment and have told anyone who asked that I had not yet formulated an opinion. After contemplating the matter and having had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Green, I am now ready to answer the question that so many readers have posed since the announcement in June: What do I think about Mr. Green’s appointment?

Read the rest of the article at Technology for Doctors.


Tugging on Superman’s Cape – Contrarian Views Applied to the Digital Health Agenda

I have teamed with my friend and mentor, William Pascal,  to write a series of articles challenging conventional wisdoms about the Canadian digital health agenda.  Here is the first article in the series which sets the stage for the remainder of the articles

“Time spent arguing is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.” ―Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian


What if we do not need new funding for the digital agenda in Canada? What if we no longer need a Canada Health Infoway or similar bodies such as eHealth Ontario? What if we are less concerned about privacy and more concerned about delivering better care? What if the private sector manages all back office operations for the health sector? All these statements are contrary to conventional wisdom, but are they wrong?

What is conventional wisdom? It can be defined as ideas so accepted they go unquestioned. Think about the Wright brothers. If they had listened to conventional wisdom, they would never have even tried to build a flying machine and our world would be a very different place. Think about the impact on society today if Alexander Graham Bell had been discouraged and gave up when he was told that his invention of the telephone had no inherent value by Western Union.

Too often we accept what’s conventional thinking without trying to see what’s possible and available. The real problem with using conventional wisdom as a guide is that we will constantly be behind the curve, safe with the general masses but missing the opportunities to think independently and create something new or change an existing way of thinking. Ten years ago, who would have thought we’d be spending more money renting software than purchasing it?. Fifteen years ago, mobile devices were not viewed as a key enabler of care when we created an eHealth strategy for Canada.

New ideas or ways to address difficult issues almost always challenges conventional wisdom. Inspired by this reality, we have embarked on a quest to challenge, through a series of articles, some of the conventional wisdom that we believe underlies the approaches to the public policy thinking that is driving the digital agenda in Canada.

This paper, the first in our series of articles challenging Canadian digital health conventional wisdoms, provides a high level overview of the challenges facing the health care system, a description of the digital agenda in the healthcare sector, the status of this agenda in Canada, some observations on this journey, lessons to be drawn from experiences in Canada and Internationally and a suggested list of contrarian possibilities that draw into question conventional wisdom. Subsequent articles will explore these suggested different future states.

You can read the remainder of this paper here.




EMR Productivity – A Work in Progress

In an October 2010 Healthcare Technology Online editorial, Evan Steele, CEO of SRSsoft, is quoted as saying “Any business that is run on paper is highly inefficient.” He further notes that “decisions based on accurate and complete information … improves the level of patient care while increasing productivity.” Does health IT improve productivity? Recent studies suggest that while health IT tools such as EMR systems do indeed enhance productivity they also highlight that there is still considerable untapped potential for further productivity improvements.

Check out the remainder of my monthly Technology for Doctors column here.



Engaging health IT vendors

Although my viewpoint is probably somewhat biased given my day job with a heath IT vendor, I hold the firm conviction that the health IT vendors have an important and valuable role to play in helping shape local, regional, provincial, and national health IT plans.   The extent to which organizations across Canada consult with vendors outside the formal procurement process varies considerably, though I am noting a gradual trend towards more meaningful engagement.

A number of healthcare IT organizations including Canada Health Infoway, Manitoba eHealth, and the Chief Health Information Officer’s office at the  Nova Scotia Department of Health, for example, hold periodic briefing sessions.   In addition, ITAC Health works with organizations such as eHealth Ontario to organize vendor information sessions.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, one of the more innovative organizations with respect to vendor engagement is the South West LHIN.  Shortly after joining the organization, Glenn Lanteigne, the LHIN CIO, instituted what he calls “Vendor Fridays”.  These 2 to 3 hour sessions provide an opportunity for vendors to offer insight into how their products and services can help the LHIN achieve its strategic objectives.  Equally important, these sessions provide a forum for vendors to chat with LHIN IT staff and interested provider stakeholders about their needs.

Not content with the information flow that “Vendor Fridays” has engendered, the South West LHIN recently invited vendors to participate in a “Consumer eHealth Innovation Day”.   This “public – private sector” workshop is the first of five workshops designed, in Glenn’s words, to “address real-life LHIN issues and explore how these types of solutions can help and how“.   Other topic areas that will be addressed in future workshops align with the LHIN eHealth strategy.  These areas include Capacity Management, Decision Support, Quality, and the Electronic Health Record.

The Consumer eHealth Innovation workshop will take place on Thursday, June 30th, at the University of Western Ontario’s Research Park Convention Centre.  You can find more details here or by calling 519-640-2592 or emailing Jordan.lange@LHINS.ON.CA.

What do you think of the South West LHIN’s efforts to meaningful engage health IT vendors?  Do you have any suggestions for how healthcare organizations can meaningfully engage health IT vendors?



eHealth 2011 – Take Part in the Conversation

Next week the annual Canadian eHealth conference (hosted this year by COACH, CIHI and Canada Health Infoway) will take place in Toronto.   While I expect there to be a record turnout for this event, many of you will be unable to attend for a variety of reasons.   No worries, a number of social media advocates like me will be attending.  We will tweet from the various sessions and write blog posts offering our thoughts and observations.

If you’d like to follow events at eHealth 2011, I encourage you to follow twitter hashtag #eHealth2011.  Conversations to date using this hashtag have been sporadic but I am hoping that you can help change this situation.   Please join in the conversation, whether you are attending the conference or are just interested interested in what is being discussed at the conference.


OCRI IT in Healthcare: Canada Health Infoway Update

Want to learn more about what is happening at Canada Health Infoway and, perhaps more importantly, ask questions to an Infoway executive?  If you live in the Ottawa area, you have an opportunity to do so at the monthly OCRI IT in Healthcare seminar on May 25th.  Our guest this month is Shelagh Maloney, Executive Director, External Liaison, Consumer Health and Innovation.  Ms. Maloney will provide an update on the progress of the pan-Canadian electronic health record implementation. You can more details about this event here.

The OCRI IT in Healthcare seminar series facilitates the exposure and exchange of experiences and ideas.  The seminars are targeted at health care providers, policymakers, IT entrepreneurs, technology developers, and students. The focus is on technologies that have actually been implemented; IT infrastructure development efforts and their costs/benefits; technology adoption experiences; and new public initiatives to support IT in health care. Speakers represent a cross-section from the life sciences community including vendors and developers of technology, researchers, and public officials.


Infoway turns to the “crowd” for ideas

I first heard about this idea last fall and thought it was a great way to engage a wider audience in coming with new ideas for how to use IT to transform healthcare services delivery. Infoway’s ImagineNation ideas challenges offers cash prizes for “bold, new ideas – or creative combinations of existing ideas.”

Ideas will be evaluated according to four criteria:

  1. Impact on Health and Health Care in Canada (30%)
  2. Innovation & Originality (30%)
  3. Effective Use of Technology (20%)
  4. Feasibility (20%)

A total of $35,000 in prize money is available and will be awarded as follows:

  • $100 for up to 50 top ideas
  • $250 for the idea that receives the most votes from Canadians (“Canada’s Choice” Award)
  • $5,000 for each of up to 5 top finalists
  • An additional $5,000 for the winning idea

The top ideas will be announced July 5th just after the Canada Day long weekend.   You can find more details here.

According to Infoway, they plan to “promote the leading ideas” though the exact details of how they will do so have not been specified.  As well, they are “considering future initiatives that may be informed by the best ideas“.

Overall, I think that the notion of a public “challenge” is a good way to raise greater awareness of the impact that IT can have on healthcare and to more meaningfully engage Canadians in Infoway’s mission.   The US First Lady, Michelle Obama, issued a similar challenge last year to develop mobile applications to combat childhood obesity and not only raised awareness about this growing problem but also stimulated development of some innovative mobile applications.

I do wish that the public input would have a greater impact on selecting the winning ideas.  Perhaps a more substantial cash award could be associated with the “people’s choice”.  Or, maybe the criteria could be adjusted so that public voting would factor into the choice of the top winners.