e-Health & GT2015: Tap into Tradition of Passionate Innovation

The 40th anniversary celebrations are well underway for COACH and will culminate at e-Health 2015: Making Connections in Toronto May 31 – June 3. When I recently looked back through some of the old COACH photos and peruse the lists of past presidents and other volunteers on the website (visit coachorg.com/en/newsandevents/coach_40th_anniversary. asp), I was moved by our founders’ vision. At a time when healthcare IT meant huge mainframe computers and awkward punch cards, the small group of professionals who launched COACH in 1975 saw the rich potential of technology in healthcare and the professionals behind it. These pioneers laid a solid foundation for today’s thriving innovative, multi-disciplinary health informatics (HI) profession that, four decades later, is vitally important to high quality patient care and healthcare system sustainability in Canada.

The e-Health Conference remains deeply rooted in our founders’ commitment to both healthcare and the innovative use of technology. Where else can every type of professional and organization involved in all sectors of care in Canada – clinicians, IT, information managers, private and publicly traded companies, project managers, researchers, academics, governments and national organizations – come together and put e-Health on the stage and under the microscope for the good of all? Only at e-Health! The connections we make at the conference are powerful and unique. This year, the program – 100+ hours – will zero in on this vitally important connectivity among all constituents and components of healthcare with a view to shaping the future.

The conference, like COACH, has grown and changed over the years in parallel with the incredible advances in HI. This year’s program (see related article) reflects the growing importance of mobile health, telehealth, consumer health, standards compliance and patient­centred care. I am also proud that the session formats and related programming have kept pace with changing times and associated participant demand including the following:

Rants: Popular on launch in 2014, these passionate 15-minute presentations stimulate valuable debate and discussion. Watch for rants like Afraid of Mobile Technology: Don’t Be and The Primary Care Office of the Future: Utilizing the Technology of the Last Decade at e-Health 2015.

Pre-Conference Symposiums & Workshops: These half and full-day sessions are geared to particular audiences and topics – accelerating clinical interoperability [presented by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway)], trends in clinical informatics and practice and HI career development (COACH), health system performance measurement [Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)] and patient-centered solutions collaboration [Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)].

Hackathon: Technology creators and healthcare professionals will again collaborate on apps and other solutions to important problems in a short, intense period. Results included a pregnancy EMR passport and child abuse reporting tool in 2014.

The program is also carefully formulated to include insight into Canada’s role in international healthcare and e-Health. This year, for example, one of our keynotes, Dr. Samantha Nutt, Founder of War Child Canada, will draw on her experiences with devastated health systems in war-torn countries and how Canadians can help and learn from these situations. (Read the interview with Dr. Nutt at www.e-healthconference.com.)

We cannot look at e-Health’s continuing success without paying tribute to Infoway and CIHI for their vital role in co-hosting the conference with COACH and playing major roles in making it Canada’s de facto national health informatics event.

Global Telehealth 2015
Global Telehealth 2015 (GT2015) will be another excellent opportunity to learn about innovation in all aspects of telehealth, including mobile and virtual health, from 25 countries from around the world. Taking place May 29-30 in Toronto, in conjunction with e-Health 2015, the program is based on the theme, Serving the Underserved: Integrating Technology and Information for Better Healthcare. (See related article.) COACH and our CTF: Clinician Telehealth Forum are hosting this 4th annual event.

GT2015 will be a rare chance to explore some of the most innovative developments in one of the most important areas of e-Health. Telehealth continues to evolve and play an increasingly major role in serving patients who are isolated and/or living with chronic disease. Covering topics like telehealth in the home, eMental health, planning, implementation & management of telehealth services, GT2015 will inspire and motivate.

I strongly encourage you to attend this event to tap into leading-edge information and connect with experts like keynote Najeeb Al-Shorbaji, PhD, Director, Department of Knowledge, Ethics and Research, World Health Organization.

In Closing
After 40 years, I believe COACH’s founders would be extremely proud of the way their vision for Taking Health Informatics Mainstream is alive and well at e-Health 2015 and GT2015. I encourage each and every member of our community to attend and fully participate in these events which are so important to shaping digital health in Canada and telehealth around the world. We are privileged to follow in the footsteps of the passionate, trailblazing pioneers who created COACH. Let’s live our commitment to improved patient care and healthcare sustainability in the tradition of the founders who set the course, filled with possibility, for us.


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