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Lets Wave the Flag at e-Health

Canada’s national HI conference is upon us yet again June 4-7, this year in Toronto. 

Despite the comradery, fun, and catching-up with old friends and colleagues, e-Health was not setup as a boondoggle for executives.  Over forty years ago, the conference was born from the need of the founders of COACH to figure out how and when to hold its Annual General meeting, to fulfill its requirements under its by-laws. 

Naturally, this lead to the idea of holding a day or two of meetings and presentations for the members to share their ideas, their failures, their successes; in essence, what was working, what was not and the lessons that were being learned.   Members from the vendor community were invited to showcase their offerings and to join in on the conversations for their input and to better understand the direction that was being taken for the betterment of their service and product offerings.  The “icing on the cake” was that colleagues and peers from the across the country, became friends, comrades and could look forward to catching up once a year at the conference. 

e-Health represents the only event that affords Canadians from all aspects of the healthcare continuum and geographic landscape to come together to collaborate.  Provincial and other such events don’t have the ability to achieve what e-Health can because they are largely populated with ‘like’ people, all working within the same regulatory, structural, and budgetary constraints.  In other words, they are homogeneous.  e-Health is truly heterogeneous.

It allows policy-makers to learn from one-another given the diversity in health policy across this great country; it allows technologists to come together to learn what has worked, what’s failed (an important part of progress & success) and what’s being developed in basements 400km away; and if we do it right, it allows us to collaboratively innovate rather than do redundant, duplicative work and this will improve the ROI of any given project.

In his recent book “Thank You for Being Late,” the NYTime’s best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman builds on his prior work “The World is Flat” to make the case for collaboration as a necessity of survival in the future.  He contends that the ‘accelerations’ occurring in the evolution of technology, climate change, and business models is now outpacing an individual’s and a society’s ability to process and adapt to them.  Thus the only way to do so effectively is by collaborating; harnessing the power of the collective. 

In Canada, we maintain one of the most multi-cultural, multi-experiential populations in the world, and we celebrate that diversity.  As an industry, our success will be born from providing healthcare services to this tapestry of people, and the variations in their linguistic, religious, dietary, sexual, psycho-social, etc. background.  Regardless of your geopolitical views on such matters it is difficult to neglect that value of being able to ask someone of a completely different ‘make-up’ how what we’re doing effects them. 

If we do this well, we stand to leap to the fore of how to do healthcare everywhere!  This is not something a mono-cultural place can accomplish.  It is truly a unique Canadian asset, and we need to exploit it.  To do so is not only necessary to achieve success in our own beautiful country as it pertains to healthcare, but it can be a unique value we bring to the world, and it can lift us economically as we then begin exporting this knowledge and experience.

e-Health is the singular opportunity for us to come together to collaborate with this aim in mind.  We ought to be doubling-down at the conference with the intent of really learning and sharing what works.  We ought to be helping colleagues succeed based on our own successes and failures and we ought to be seeking out those who have succeeded or failed at similar endeavors we’re challenged with to see how we can do better. 

I often hear that many from across the country often speak to one another for such purposes.  While they may come together (physically or virtually) from time to time, it tends to be around a specific topic and does not afford the free-flowing ideation and brainstorming that is the root of all innovation.  And once an initiative is put in motion within one of their organizations, often-times it is the foot-soldiers under the CIO’s leadership that are solely close-enough to the work to make collaboration effective. 

I challenge everyone attending e-Health next month to do 2 things:

  1. Learn 5 new things each day from 5 different people
  2. Share 5 things each day you’ve learned through experience with 5 other people

That means you need to bring at least 10 things you feel you’ve uniquely learned to the conference, and seek out at least 10 people you feel would benefit from that work; and seek the inverse.  And then commit to doing this again next year in Vancouver!

Not only will you leave better equipped to do your job, but so will all those you interact with.  Helping others, even those we don’t know…isn’t that what it truly means to be Canadian?  Isn’t collaboration at the core of who we are?

Let’s make e-Health truly Canadian, let’s wave the flag at e-Health not just to see the red and white, but to return to our roots, and those of the folks that laid our foundation we have built upon.    

And then, watch what happens….

See you in Toronto!