Measuring Up: A Look at COACH & Our Strategic Plan

As I finish my term as President this month (June) and see the new Strategic Plan taking shape for 2014 – 2017, it is an ideal time to take stock of COACH’s progress over the last three years – looking back as we look forward. The Strategic Plan is the blueprint and measuring stick for all COACH does, ensuring the association aligns with our members’ needs and reflects where our industry is going as health informatics (HI) and e-Health mature and evolve. Let’s see how we measured up in key areas in 2011 – 2014 and also take an early look at where we’re headed as we continue to progress in Taking Health Informatics Mainstream.

As the voice of HI in Canada, members remained our driving force for promoting the adoption, practice and professionalism of HI over the last three years.

Our first 2011 – 2014 strategic goal was to “Grow and Diversify Membership” and some notable achievements included:

Expanded Support for Specific Membership Segments
An important characteristic (and strength) of our COACH community is our diversity. In this respect, I am very pleased with the enthusiastic response we have received to the new CCF: COACH Clinician Forum; formalization of our offerings for Emerging Professionals into the eHIP Forum; and the new regional networking/education events for women and other leaders – each of which meet distinct needs of COACH members in our multi-disciplinary field.

As technology and related practices evolve at seemingly breakneck speed, COACH is also constantly working to stay relevant and current for members. The vital telehealth membership segment, for example, now encompasses professionals involved with mobile health, home health monitoring, patient/provider virtual interactions and more. Thus, our commitment to “Evolve and broaden the CTF: Canadian Telehealth Forum to reflect emerging technologies and directions” is key in the new Strategic Plan.

Access to Professional Development
We stepped up our education program substantially in response to members’ needs, offering 24 clinician, telehealth, eHIP and more webinars, which attracted 724 in 2013 – 2014. Our online learning opportunities – now at two or more webinars per month plus the growing collection of webinar podcasts – complement our regional events series and the annual e-Health Conference. Our regional education and networking days, such as the sold-out Health IT in Alberta & Beyond that was presented in partnership with ANHIX in February, and our very successful first ONUP14 (Ontario Update 2014, presented with HIMSS Ontario), bring timely information and insight to members where they live; we certainly want to build on this momentum in 2014 – 2017.

Looking ahead and building on our successes in the past three years, membership growth and engagement will continue to be central in the new Strategic Plan as reflected in our new Goal #1:“Advance the awareness, engagement, and number of COACH members through strengthened networking, value and education products and services.”

HI Adoption & Practice
The active contributions and collaborative efforts of our members and volunteers in catalyzing our collective wisdom and experience continue to be instrumental in developing HI knowledge and best practices in our fast-moving field. Essential to our success as professionals in enabling improved healthcare and patient outcomes, this need was expressed in our 2011 – 2014 Plan by “Support the sharing of usable knowledge on health informatics (HI) …. to enhance professional capacity, contribute to new knowledge and facilitate the entry of new professionals into HI.” There are too many excellent examples of the ways in which members came together to share experiences and advance our knowledge and best practices to begin to mention them all, but two important new areas are good examples of the advances we have made as a professional community

eSafety Guidelines
These new guidelines address an emerging issue that is important to our profession and the success of our e-Health initiatives. In providing practical guidance on managing the patient safety risks that we may inadvertently introduce with the implementation of our transformative technologies, the new guidelines will help us ensure e-Health systems are built and operated so they reduce patient safety risk. The new eSafety Guidelines draw from the best international knowledge and incorporate feedback from trial use of the Guidelines by some of our leading member organizations, maximizing their relevancy and usefulness. We are also helping professionals learn to apply these Guidelines through our new webinar series and in our new Strategic Plan we will develop other advisory services. This is an area where Canadians are again in the forefront of international developments in this emerging field of practice.

EMR Adoption Model & EHR Governance White Papers
White papers are a tool we’ve developed to bring together the best thinking from our members and their organizations. Highlights from this growing body of work include:

  1. The first EMR adoption model specifically for Canada – vital for demonstrating clinical and investment value and supporting clinicians in optimizing their use of these systems;
  2. A new framework on building effective, quality of EHR governance, which builds stakeholder confidence and emphasizes meaningful health systems and public engagement in the management of our increasingly important e-Health information assetsCOACH’s commitment to supporting our membership by sharing our knowledge and fostering the adoption of best practices, thereby contributing to our visibility/identity as a community of professionals, is solidly embedded in our new 2014 – 2017 Strategic Plan as Goal #2: Strengthen Use and Impact of HI Professionalism and Practice.

COACH’s mission begins with the words “To promote the adoption, practice and profession of HI”, so professionalism is at the core of what we do. In my role as President for the past two years, I know firsthand how much our work in advancing the profession of Hi in Canada is admired and emulated. At the top of our list of 2011 – 2014 achievements in advancing our profession in Canada were:

  • CPHIMS-CA: The only professional credential for Canadian HI professionals, the CPHIMS-CA enjoyed steady uptake and growing recognition. The HI societies in both Australia and Brazil drew heavily on COACH’s experience and expertise in establishing their own professional credentialing programs and we will benefit from future cross-collaboration with them as a result of this.
  • Foundations: Our HIP® Program – Core Competences 3.0, the Career Matrix, Role Profiles, the CPHIMS-CA Canadian HI Review & Reference Guide and the CPHIMS-CA Canadian Exam – were updated to ensure our programs reflect advances in e-Health and HI practice, and the new HIP® Career Navigator was introduced as an added service for members in leveraging the foundational HIP® components for career planning.
  • Capacity: The first “state-of-the-nation” survey and report on the supply and demand for HI and health information management professionals was completed (and will be followed by an updated survey in 2014), providing our industry with a comprehensive picture of the extent of our skill and human resource gaps. In collaboration with our HI academic institutions and partners, we then completed a significant report on HI education in Canada. Finally, a new set of COACH guidelines on HI Human Resources Recruitment was introduced to assist employers. Each of these initiatives helps us address important facets of the broader “talent” challenges that we continue to face in Canada.

In Closing
On a personal note, it has been a privilege to serve as President these past two years – our ability to accomplish so much of what we ambitiously set out to do in 2011 is a credit to COACH staff, our 250+ volunteers, our partners and our members. I’m a strong believer in the power of collaboration, and have been so impressed with our ability to work together and accomplish great things in advancing the impact of e-Health. We’ve come a great distance in a short time through the collective commitment of so many great people and participating organizations. I’m honored to be part of our professional community and deeply value everyone’s support and shared passion for our common goals.

I’m looking forward to working with our incoming President, Mike Barron, and our new Board in actioning our COACH’s 2014 – 2017 strategy as we continue to build our membership and its engagement by providing services that add value, both to us as professionals and as a COACH community working to better the health system we cherish as Canadians.To comment on this column, email Neil via COACH or on Twitter at @COACH_HI.

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