Connecting for Digital Health

The Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) 2017 Partnership Conference was a resounding success, hosting a record number of 339 attendees who came together in Calgary, Alberta from November 14-15 to network, share experiences and Connect for Digital Health.

We chose Connecting for Digital Health as the conference theme because Infoway and its partners are now focusing on making and enabling the connections that will give Canadians access to health services, and their health data, electronically.

Better access means more convenient and efficient health services, such as PrescribeITTM, Canada’s new national e-prescribing service that enables a prescriber to electronically transmit a prescription to a patient’s pharmacy of choice. Better access also means providing a gateway to personal health information and support tools through things like virtual services and portals. These kinds of connections enable patients to be better informed and better able to collaborate with their care teams to improve their health and health care. This approach will transform the way health care is delivered, benefiting patients and their families, clinicians, health organizations and Canada’s health systems. It’s win-win for everyone.

Conference delegates heard from an impressive array of national and international speakers who discussed opportunities and addressed the challenges of transforming health care delivery in Canada. For example:

  • Andrew Slater, ‎Chief Executive Officer of Homecare Medical New Zealand, spoke about the journey to develop innovative virtual mental health services at scale in New Zealand and how more than one million people were connected in just 16 months;
  • Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project, the leading interoperability organization in the United States, shared insights about building nationwide health data sharing initiatives, which enable exchange across disparate geographies, vendors, technologies and networks; and
  • Dr. Alikah Lafontaine, Medical Lead (North Zone) for the Aboriginal Health Program within Alberta Health Services, addressed the unrealized potential for digital health to impact Indigenous Peoples, and how digital health innovators, providers and regulators can align their efforts by focusing on community-based priorities.

Mariann Yeager, CEO, The Sequoia Project

Left to right: Ian Brodie Infoway Board Member & Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary; Josée Morin, Canada Health Infoway Board Member & Engineer & MBA; Dr. Peter W. Vaughan, Board Chair, Canada Health Infoway; Dr. Victoria Lee, Infoway Board Member & Vice President, Population Health & Chief Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health; Michael Green, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway

Dr. Alika Lafontaine, Medical Lead (North Zone), Aboriginal Health Program, Alberta Health Services

In addition, delegates heard from patients and industry experts who talked about: technologies that will support and enable connections; clinician leadership in using digital technologies; data governance; privacy; cybersecurity; medication safety and patient engagement. Members of Infoway’s Board of Directors also joined Infoway’s President and CEO, Michael Green, to talk about the next wave of health innovation in Canada.

Patients were instrumental in the success of Partnership 2017. Patient Advisors Garry Laxdal and Darlene Gallant worked with Infoway from the earliest stages of planning to shape the program themes, select speakers and advise about patient scholarships. They and other patients were also active participants in the two-day program. As a result, we are proud to say that Partnership received Patients Included accreditation for the second straight year.

“Having patients here, I think, serves to remind everybody of what events like this are really all about, that patients are the focus of the whole health care system and everything that we’re doing,” said Colleen McGavin, a patient from Victoria, British Columbia.

“I am impressed at the incredible innovation and different things that came up from everybody,” said Iris Kisch, a patient from Calgary. “The learnings were unbelievable. And I know I am proud to walk shoulder to shoulder with everybody that was there as an equal partner in health care.”

For the second straight year, the conference was held during Digital Health Week (November 13-19), the annual celebration of all things digital health. The week included a number of activities led by Infoway and supporting organizations, to recognize the progress we have made together to improve the health and lives of Canadians through innovative digital health solutions.

Besides having a record number of attendees, the conference reached a broader audience through live webcasts of the opening keynote sessions each day. The webcasts reached 334 people, including 100 who tuned in from the Canadian Home Care Association 2017 Home Care Summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The inspiring discussions that took place at the conference extended into social media platforms with the #ThinkDigitalHealth hashtag collecting 6.6 million impressions. It also included three Facebook Live videos resulting in 2,056 views.

“More health care should look like this conference,” said Jessica Havens, a patient from Calgary. “More health care should involve patients from the beginning, before anything happens, and while it happens, we should be in an ongoing dialogue. Health care needs to become more of a dialogue, and that’s my biggest takeaway (from the conference), using digital health to create that dialogue.”

If you missed attending the conference in-person or virtually, or contributing to the conversation on social media, you can access some of the recorded sessions here, and the PowerPoint presentations here.
Infoway wants to thank our generous sponsors and everyone who participated in the 2017 Partnership Conference for sharing their time, insights and experiences. Connecting for Digital Health was our goal, and we achieved it. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our next Partnership Conference, which will be held November 13-14, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec.

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