Let’s begin by first addressing why HIMSS is expanding resources to support digital health in Canada. Beyond the fact that Canada is part of HIMSS North America’s charge (I like to remind my American colleagues that there is a “north” in North America), there are two primary reasons driving HIMSS to focus efforts in Canada.
First, Canadians have a demonstrated interest in HIMSS. Canadian stakeholders have organically embraced HIMSS products, services and events, like our Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) or attendance at the annual conference.
Second (and more importantly), HIMSS has something to offer that is not currently being achieved through existing Canadian health associations: ready access to international insights, resources and audiences. Through HIMSS, our digital health professionals can learn from peers in other parts of the world, and can showcase the innovative things we are doing here.
Our efforts for digital health in Canada have focused on three concurrent activities.
HIMSS is a membership organization with local chapters throughout the United States and select countries. In Canada, HIMSS has long operated the Ontario Canada Chapter of HIMSS (ON Chapter).
With an energized focus on expanding our influence globally, our first order of business has been to fortify our existing Canadian health association presence and provide renewed support to the ON Chapter and its board.
Given the strong cast of digital health leaders in this chapter, the ON Chapter has made some very significant gains in being a force since its reconstitution in 2017 (check their website for upcoming events and networking opportunities). Stakeholders residing and/or working in Ontario are strongly encouraged to join HIMSS, associate with the ON Chapter and become involved in volunteer opportunities for furthering digital health interests in Ontario.
The last thing we want to do when expanding our support in a jurisdiction outside the U.S. is ignore and, by implication, marginalize the work of native players. Indeed, digital health stakeholders in Canada (and Canadians in general) have been well served by a number of groups and Canadian health associations. Therefore, we have come alongside many of these groups this past year to lend support where we can, through sponsorships of an association like the British Columbia Health Information Management Professionals Society (BCHIMPS), or working with the Canadian Trade Commission to highlight Canadian digital health start-ups at HIMSS18.
While HIMSS will continue to reach out to a variety of Canadian stakeholders, as HIMSS’s lead in Canada, I strongly encourage Canadian leaders in this space to proactively reach out to me to explore ways to leverage potential synergies. We especially invite non-profit organizations to explore our Non-Profit Partner Membership program.
As noted earlier, Canadian stakeholders have been attracted to HIMSS because there is something we offer and/or are uniquely positioned to offer. What that something is of course varies by audience. For example, a group of HIMSS members in Alberta approached us this last year to start a HIMSS chapter in Western Canada. I am proud to announce the HIMSS North America board approved the formation of the Canadian Prairies Chapter of HIMSS. It is our intent to continue exploring ways to fill the void for the Canadian community.
I am excited what the future holds for digital health in Canada, and honoured that the Canadian community is embracing HIMSS in changing our part of the world. I encourage readers to join us as we work together to realize better health through information and technology.
At HIMSS, our vision is to realize the full health potential of every human, everywhere. Be part of the community that’s transforming the global health ecosystem with courage, curiosity and determination.
Originally published May 30, 2018, updated October 7, 2018