Tag Archives: itHealthcare Canada

Canadian eHealth Leadership

At the itHealthcare Canada conference and exhibition organized by HIMSS Ontario earlier this month, one of the keynote speakers, Dr. Kevin Leonard, questioned whether we have the appropriate leadership in Canada to aggressively drive deployment and effective use of eHealth applications.  While munching on some leftover turkey this weekend, I was catching up on various blogs that I read and came across a post on the eHealthCentral blog on that caused me to think about Kevin’s comments regarding eHealth leadership in Canada.

The eHealthCentral blog post mused about the current situation in Australia. Like Infoway in Canada, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) in Australia attempting to coordinate eHealth deployment.   The eHealthCentral blog post notes concerns that “NEHTA’s powers are to some extent limited by its structure, and by the fact that there are too many government instrumentalities that have a finger in the ehealth pie, and too many vested interests at work in the industry.”   The blog post further explores the complex environment in Australia, noting that:

“At a national level you’ve got DOHA setting policy for the primary care sector. At the State and jurisdictional level you’ve got State governments setting their own priorities and policies for the hospital sector. You’ve got Medicare, which is a division of the Department of Human Services. If you were trying to bake a cake with those ingredients, you’d have a persistent problem of them separating out.”

Trisha Greenlagh, a noted commentator on the UK eHealth market, suggested to the eHealthCentral blog author that “Australian ehealth needed a publicly identified leader at the helm.”  Ms. Greenlagh stated that “We don’t really want a formal leadership structure” but, rather, “de-centred” leadership with a clearly identified spokesperson who can “articulate what is going on.”.  She suggests that “It wouldn’t necessarily be the big guy on the big salary who is in charge. It would be a little more subtle and de-centred, just like as in an ant colony, where there is no chief executive ant. I do think a lot of the leadership will be from clinicians.”

Given the many criticisms leveled at Canada Health Infoway, I do wonder if perhaps are expecting too much from one organization, particularly given its governance structure.  As Trisha Greenlagh notes, there are substantial benefits to having a recognized spokesperson, like Dr. Blumenthal in the US, who can tell the eHealth story in a compelling manner that catalyzes action and rallies support across disparate stakeholder communities.


itHealthcare Canada Conference

Earlier this week I attended the first itHealthcare Canada conference hosted by HIMSS Ontario.   I had hoped to live blog and tweet from the event on my iPad but, unfortunately, the conference organizers did not make arrangement for wifi access or, if they did, I was not aware of any such arrangements.  Hence, I will be publishing several blog posts after the event based on notes I took during the event.

A number of people who chose not to attend the event have asked how this event differed from the annual COACH conference.  To be honest, I didn’t see much difference other than scale.  Like the COACH conference, the itHealthcare Canada event featured a series of presentations, several keynote presentations, and a vendor trade show.   While the itHealthcare Canada content was more Ontario focused than the COACH conference, the nature of the presentations was similar in many ways to the COACH conference presentations that I have attended.

As I did at the COACH conference this year, I wandered the show floor asking the vendors whether the trade show was worth their investment in time and money.  For the most part, their feedback was neutral to critical.  While a few vendors felt that it was worth these costs they incurred, most vendors complained, as they did at the COACH conference, that the traffic through the booths was quite light and many stated that they had generated few new leads.

I did find several of the presentations to be quite informative and the networking opportunities were superb (for me, at least).  I will write several blog posts over the next few days on a few of the presentations that I attended.

A topic of many of the hallways conversations in which I engaged was the need for another “national” health IT conference.  While the HIMSS Ontario conference clearly had an Ontario flavour, it was billed as a “Canadian” conference (just look at the name).  There was considerable debate, particularly among the vendors, of the challenge in deciding which of the increasing number of health IT related conferences to attend.  Many of the larger vendors (CGI, Oracle, and IBM, for example) chose not to exhibit at the ITHealthcare Canada conference.  I’d be interested to hear what others think about this question.

Speaking of vendors, I felt that the vendors were discriminated against at the ITHealthcare Canada conference.  To start, vendors were not allowed to submit presentation abstracts for consideration.  Further, there was a different fee structure for vendors.  I feel very strongly that vendors are an integral part of the Canadian health IT landscape and have much to offer.   It is not clear to me (and others) why HIMSS Ontario chose to treat them differently.  Anyone else have any thoughts on this topic?