The future of digital health and the people who are shaping it

The theme of the Toronto e-Health Conference and Tradeshow aligns neatly with the conversations we’ve been having at the COACH Board level lately. I’m sure we aren’t the only health informatics professionals discussing the future of digital health, the people who will benefit, and where we fit in.

As COACH members, we may have a slight advantage. We don’t have to sit and wait for the future of digital health to arrive – many of us are actively involved in shaping it. Staying connected through your COACH membership is a great way to be actively involved with a professional network where important discussions about the future of digital health are happening.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

– Steve Jobs

The COACH Strategic Plan for 2017-2020 outlines the power of connections – cross-sector, cross-industry, and between traditional players and new entrants, and sets out how COACH will continue to foster those connections by creating opportunities for collaboration, shared learning, and working together to meet industry challenges. The e-Health Conference is just one example; COACH also hosts a steadily growing number of cross-country breakfast panels with local industry leaders, and plans are in place for informal meet-ups and more “Community of Action” working groups. COACH brings together diverse professionals — stakeholders, organizations, communities, and networks — from across multiple sectors, all with a common goal: advancing the understanding and application of digital health to ensure quality healthcare delivery in Canada.

As both the healthcare and digital health industries transform, merge, diversify, and fragment, the challenge for all of us – and that includes consumers, caregivers, clinicians, and IT/IM professionals — lies in understanding and managing the multiple new models of care delivery for Canadians, and in finding the optimal solution for each new challenge that arises. Challenges such as:

  • Connecting consumers and care teams
  • Interpreting and protecting data
  • Developing safe and reliable devices
  • Managing the digitization mega-trend

The digital health industry (with health informatics as its core discipline and requisite body of knowledge) is a key enabler of success in this transformation. By continuously connecting with our peers, we can stay informed and inspired, and ensure that we are contributing our best ideas to the ongoing digital health conversation.

Ultimately, underneath all the technology, healthcare delivery is an industry of people helping people. Connecting with patients is at the core of quality healthcare, and digital health, well-implemented and carefully managed, can make that connection point easier for everyone.

The greatest strength of our growing COACH membership (over 2200 members in 2016-17) lies in finding new ways to tap into the potential for innovation and problem-solving within us all; in leveraging the groundswell of new ideas that happens when people from different industries, sectors, and experience levels find ways to connect with one another. Connections spark conversation, interaction, fresh thinking, and knowledge sharing. Let’s all commit to making more connections in the coming year, working together across sectors, and breaking down silos to promote more healthcare innovation and transformation in Canada.