A Vibrant Community Requires Change and Growth

2016-2017 has been an especially interesting year with the COACH Board and Executive team focusing on two main ideas: change and growth. Our industry is rapidly shifting as new players enter the digital health space and technology advancements share the spotlight with quality of care and improved patient engagement.

I would like to thank the COACH Board of 2016-2017 as well as our National Office staff, under the leadership of Mark Casselman and Shannon Bott, for their hard work and dedication to the COACH membership, the industry, and to pushing forward with the change and growth required to maintain COACH as a vibrant community.

An association like COACH, with a mission to connect, inspire, and educate the digital health professionals who are creating the future of health in Canada, will naturally experience change and growth in response. Our challenge is to keep pace with the industry and encourage association growth; anticipating the interests of future members while fully supporting current members.

I’m confident that our three-year strategic plan positions us well to meet these challenges. It focuses on emerging opportunities from the perspective of members and stakeholders and draws on
COACH’s long history in the digital health universe, our internal operational strengths, and our mission to facilitate connections.

An important element of the plan for sustained growth is the pending change to the association name – a decision reached after more than a year of development, debate, and member consultation.
The motion to change the name of COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association to Digital Health Canada was approved by a member vote on September 14, 2017; launch of the new name and brand will take place throughout the month of November 2017, starting with an official announcement during Digital Health Week.

We anticipate several benefits for members because of the rebrand, starting with increased potential for growth and a wider network. The Canadian digital health industry is experiencing rapid acceleration, and our new name positions us at the heart of a broad cross-sector of organizations operating in digital health today, in both the public and private sectors. Attracting digital health professionals from across the industry strengthens our community and helps facilitate cross-sector connections.

The clarity of purpose and scope encapsulated in the name Digital Health Canada will enable our members to easily communicate the mandate of the association and the value of membership. In its
brevity, the new name brings ease-of-use and simplicity, and the modern language brings us up to date. The change shows that we are willing to continually evolve to meet the needs of our members and adapt to the complex industry in which we all work.

As Digital Health Canada, the association is well-positioned for sustained growth in response to strong indications from government that health, technology, and innovation will be priorities in the coming years. The federal government delivered a budget focused on preparing Canadians for the fast-changing global economy, with $1.18B set aside for skills and innovation and $950M to be given “on a competitive basis” to “business-led innovation superclusters”.

The shortlist of consortiums eligible for a piece of the $950-million fund includes a digital technology supercluster dedicated to making Canada better at inventing, developing and applying digital technologies to drive competitiveness in environment and resource technology, manufacturing, and precision health (with COACH Member Telus as one of the proponents).

Elements from the COACH strategy that align well with this national focus on skills and innovation include:

  • A robust professional education and certification program crafted with Canadian digital health professionals and the digital health industry in mind
  • Rich history behind COACH’s health informatics body of knowledge that informs our core education offerings
  • A well-established professional network comprising public and private health sector leaders that represents an important asset for health–tech superclusters and startups

Holding fast to our strengths— experience, knowledge, and community—while we position the association for change and growth will serve us well. Let’s remember where we come from as we set off in new directions as Digital Health Canada.