November 16, 2022

2022 Women Leaders in Digital Health: Duska Kennedy

Duska Kennedy, Chief Digital Officer, North York General Hospital

Duska is truly a leader for our time – she has deep credibility as a digital health leader, has demonstrated experience leading complex digital health initiatives, is a leader of people and has broad influence among peers in the health sector.

Duska Kennedy is the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at North York General Hospital in Toronto, a leading community academic hospital. Her leadership focus is spearheading new digital solutions that transform the way we work and providing a connected care experience for the communities she serves. She is passionate about innovating and transforming the patient and provider experience. Over a 20+ year career, she has held progressive leadership roles across both the private and public sectors, bringing a wealth of information management and technology experience, strong strategic orientation, and project execution experience. Her experience includes large-scale systems implementations, strategic planning, and operational leadership roles at several organizations. As CDO, she provides strategic leadership for digital/information technology, clinical informatics, and biomedical engineering portfolios. Duska also leads the advancement of digital solutions and health system innovation in partnership with North York Toronto Health Partners (NYTHP), and other partners. Duska leads several regional and provincial tables, including serving as Co-Chair of the Cerner HIS Collaborative and NYTHP Digital group. She also serves on the Health Pro Board of Directors. Duska holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Business Administration from Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.

North York General (NYG), is a community academic hospital based in Toronto that operates across 7-sites. This past year, NYG continued to balance enabling pandemic-driven transformation, while also addressing critical organizational risks. NYG needed to sustain and grow virtual care models, and enable greater health system integration, while also dealing with unprecedented human resources challenges. Duska’s leadership realized $8M in provincial digital initiatives funding. This resulted in numerous successes including but not limited to 1) growth of remote monitoring services to support >200 patients with ~1400 virtual check-ins, and 990 health coaching sessions; (2) virtual pre/post-op management of 300 surgical patients in initial 3-months of operation; and (3) 76% ED avoidance rate through our virtual primary care navigator service. Concurrently, NYG experienced service disruptions to our hospital information system and needed to address key cyber security risk points. Duska developed a multi-million-dollar business case to garner the investment needed to transition to a vendor-hosted service and initiated implementation. Implementation is on track. Her team also successfully rolled out multi-factor authentication, updated security practices/processes and became the only Canadian hospital to achieve ISO 27001 certification for our information management security systems and meet stringent requirements to purchase incremental cyber insurance coverage.

Duska’s credibility and influence as a leader is grounded in her experience base. She serves as the strategic voice of digital health within NYG and several external tables. Her written and verbal communications are demonstrative of her experience, articulate, thoughtful, and delivered with a balance of confident assertion and humility. This balance is rooted in her ability to listen, empathize, and build trust with others. This allows her to not solely rely on her experience and position/role, but also influence without authority.

Duska is a truly differentiated women leader who is making a mark in digital health. She is innovating how we partner with patients, project execution, and shaping the future of digital health talent. While Duska and her teams consistently deliver with impact, her influence as a mentor and model is one of her greatest strengths.