COACH After 40: Going Where the Puck Will Be

“I’m all for progress, it’s change that I hate.” Mark Twain

Over the last number of months we have spent considerable time celebrating the past 40 years of COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association. We will continue to do so throughout the e-Health 2015 Conference and rightly so, however, we need to begin thinking of what we all can do over the next number of years to further the aims of our health informatics (HI) community and to more fully realize the vision of making HI mainstream.

Life after 40 for COACH will certainly have its challenges. Our industry and related professions will continue to change as they have over the last four decades. That is a given. As such, it is important that COACH itself embraces change and evolves to not only meet industry challenges, but also to seize opportunities when they present themselves.

Some status quo directions continue to resonate. Expanding our membership to attract more Emerging Professionals as well as more participants from the clinical community will remain a strategic priority. Sustaining and growing our current Forums and Practices will also be important to ensuring our future success. However, it is probably a good time for us have an open-minded conversation about what the future holds for COACH and identify what we can do now to make sure we continue to succeed into the future. We need to go where the puck will be.

I am not talking about change for the sake of change, but change for the betterment of our community and agenda as a whole. Change that will selfishly improve the value proposition of COACH for us as members, while at the same time providing much needed support to all of the health systems (yes, there are more than one) and organizations in Canada.

Everything needs to be on the table. All possibilities need to be explored or at least discussed. We will need thought leadership from all segments of our membership and advice from outside of our fold. Opinions need to be welcomed and truths accepted. There are no stupid questions – just opportunities for more clarity and knowledge sharing. We need to determine changes or alternative directions we can take that will allow us to remain not only relevant, but also more effective in achieving our vision on behalf of all Canadians.

What current partnerships do we need to strengthen? What partnerships do we need to pursue and create? What segments of our industry need to know more about us and be more involved with us in order to benefit from our knowledge and expertise and, dare I say, wisdom? What can we do to support better decision making at all levels and segments of our environment? What can we do to make a positive impact on the “big picture?”

Consider Communities of Interest

There are more questions than answers at this point, but my two cents worth is that there may be some considerable value in the creation of communities of interest for analytics, innovation knowledge transfer and benefits evaluation. The value proposition of analytics as it pertains to micro and macro management of healthcare delivery and population health is a no brainer and something the HI community should demand and pursue. Some jurisdictions, including my own, have been steadily building capacity and expertise in this area over the last few years.

Innovation is an overused term, but we need to pursue avenues that will allow all of us to more easily share evidenced-based health delivery innovation initiatives. Some work has already been undertaken by COACH’s CHIEF executive Forum that has
identified potential sources of this type of knowledge and we will continue to work through CHIEF and the rest of the membership to see what we can do to make innovative practices more accessible to all.

Benefits evaluation ties the two previous areas together nicely as it provides the means and methodology to validate the effectiveness of a particular approach, process, project, technology or all or none of the above. In our business, we have a history of not shining a bright enough light on those initiatives that are extremely successful and benefits evaluation provides ammunition not only for supporting the credibility of those that have achieved success, but also in supporting those of us that wish to follow down the proven path.

Tell Us: Where Do We Need Change?

In conclusion, I invite our entire membership to assist us in identifying where we need to change. I also want you folks to continue to let us know what is working well that we can build on. The timing is right as we enter into our fifth decade. Feel free to direct input or suggestions to the Association office to my attention or any other Board members. You can also work through the numerous volunteer-led programs that are the heart and soul of COACH or email me directly atmike.barron@nlchi.nl.ca. Or, for those on Twitter, tweet @COACH_HI, with hash tag #COACHIS40. COACH after 40 needs to be stronger than ever!
Let us work to create our future, not let it happen to us.

Cheers,
Mike Barron

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