Julia Zarb, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Blue x Blue, a company dedicated to enhancing proficiency in evolving technologies through conversational AI. The company’s generative AI platform, informed by Dr. Zarb’s 25-year career across the private, public, and commercial sectors, serves as a training and workforce development tool aimed at advancing healthcare and life sciences ecosystems in the US and Canada.

She currently serves on the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors. She is a member of the  HIMSS Public Policy Committee, where she is working on AI Policy Guidelines, and initiating an AI Workforce Working Group in Washington, DC. Her focus is on the responsible implementation of AI in healthcare systems.

Dr. Zarb’s commitment to education is evident from her tenure as a professor and Director of the Master of Health Informatics program at the University of Toronto, where she launched the careers of 350 healthcare graduates. Her work in AI began in 2017, reflecting her ongoing pursuit in this field.

Previously, Dr. Zarb co-founded the Electronic Health Record Vendor Association and was instrumental in the HIMSS, HL7, & IHE Interoperability Collaborative, enhancing digital health strategies and leading to over 200 partnerships with more than 32 organizations. This includes elevating a US EHR brand to a top-three market position.

Holding a PhD in Communications from the University of Toronto, Dr. Zarb also serves as Chair of Governance and University Affairs for the Victoria University Board of Regents.

Julia has been a Digital Health Canada member for 9 years.

Why do you want to join the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors at this point in your career?
In the span of two years, since I first stepped into the role on the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors, my career trajectory has shifted towards a significant entrepreneurial venture with Blue x Blue. Serving as its CEO, I’ve led efforts in pioneering generative AI technologies to tackle healthcare challenges, emphasizing the importance of ethical adoption and fostering an AI-positive culture. This initiative stems from a blend of experiences – from shaping academic minds at the University of Toronto to navigating the intricacies of healthcare technology in the private sector. This adventure has been a blend of everything I’ve learned and loved in my 25+ years across academia and the private sector, bringing forward a mission that feels important both personally and professionally.

This transition represents not just a new chapter but a significant expansion of my vision for digital health, drawing upon a rich foundation in academia and the private sector.

Now, as I navigate the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship, I find myself well-positioned to bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to my ongoing work on the Digital Health Canada Board.

My experience with Blue x Blue has not only deepened my understanding of the transformative potential of AI in healthcare but also reinforced my commitment to ethical practices and continuous education in the digital health sphere. My work now revolves around facilitating the strategic integration of AI within organizations, enhancing workforce capabilities through educational frameworks, and promoting an ethical, trust-based approach to AI adoption. These endeavours are pursuits of innovation and reflective of a deeper understanding and commitment to advancing healthcare through digital technologies.

My re-election to the Board would mark a continuation of my journey, enabling me to share the innovative approaches and lessons learned from my entrepreneurial venture, ensuring that digital health adoption in Canada is both forward-thinking and grounded in real-world applicability.

How does your experience align with the Digital Health Canada strategic plan and mandate?
My professional journey over the past two years, particularly through leading Blue x Blue, aligns seamlessly with Digital Health Canada’s vision for digitally connected and accessible healthcare. At Blue x Blue, we are pioneering the ethical adoption and integration of generative AI within healthcare organizations, embodying the innovation Digital Health Canada advocates for. This endeavor directly supports new models and methods that enhance healthcare, in line with the organization’s mission to empower and inspire digital healthcare champions.

Our focus on educational frameworks and skills development echoes Digital Health Canada’s commitment to continuous learning and member empowerment. By equipping professionals with AI-positive mindsets and tools, we’re fostering the diversity of thought and practice that is crucial for an inclusive digital health landscape. Moreover, Blue x Blue’s collaborative intelligence platform and strategic partnerships aim to expand networks across traditional and non-traditional segments, mirroring the strategic goal of growing membership and nurturing meaningful connections within the industry.

With a proven track record in fostering an AI-positive culture, enhancing trust in AI, and developing strategic insights for leadership in the health sector, my experience not only resonates with the values of service, integrity, and belonging but also propels the leadership and equity goals set forth by Digital Health Canada. My vision, honed by my recent endeavors, is to continue this alignment, contributing to a vibrant, equitable, and forward-thinking digital health community.

What unique skills, perspectives and contributions would you bring to the Digital Health Canada Board?
Embracing the mission of Blue x Blue, I bring to the Digital Health Canada Board a unique blend of skills shaped by leading the charge in generative AI within healthcare. My experience now encompasses not just the leverage of digital technologies but also the ethical frameworks and innovative processes that are critical for enhancing health equity, access, advocacy, and literacy at all systemic levels.

The journey with Blue x Blue has deepened my professional relationships across a spectrum of sectors, from tech startups to traditional healthcare institutions. This cross-pollination of ideas and practices has honed my ability to identify and navigate the complexities of healthcare disruption. I offer a refined perspective that weaves the potential of AI with the fabric of human-centered care, informed by a STEAM approach that marries technical acumen with empathetic understanding.

My skills in facilitating transformative conversations and forging consensus among diverse stakeholders are now enriched with real-world applications of AI in healthcare. This enables me to translate the nuances of digital health advancements in ways that resonate with various stakeholders, encouraging the embrace of progress while thoughtfully addressing resistance to change.

As a seasoned bridge-builder in Canadian, US, and international health dialogues, I contribute a global outlook to localized challenges. My commitment to collaboration is geared toward uniting disparate viewpoints to tackle the ‘wicked problems’ of healthcare with innovative, actionable solutions that stem from a profound understanding of the new AI-driven landscape. This expertise, coupled with my entrepreneurial insight, primes me to contribute significantly to the Board’s vision for a digitally connected and inclusive healthcare future.

Do you or have or have you ever had any direct patient care experience (clinical)?


What segments within the Digital Health Canada community do you feel you will best represent?
  • Executives/CIOs
  • Emerging Professionals
  • Telehealth
  • Vendors
  • IM/IT Practitioners
  • Leaders
  • Academic and Research
  • Healthcare Institutions
  • National eHealth Organizations
  • Digital Health Entrepreneurs
With which Digital Health Canada committees, task groups or activities have you volunteered in past five years?
As a board member of Digital Health Canada, I have served as a Director on the eHealth Conference Committee, contributing to the strategic planning and execution of one of Canada’s premier healthcare IT conferences. I have also been actively involved with the Canadian Health Information Executive Forum (CHIEF), participating in pivotal meetings that bring together a spectrum of voices from policy makers to vendor executives. My significant contributions include presenting papers at eHealth conferences and speaking on the practical applications of AI in healthcare, which aligns with DHC’s mission to empower and educate healthcare professionals in the digital domain. I’m proud of my work on the DHC Board of Directors, working under strong leadership, to empower the strategic direction of DHC, ensuring we meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders and stay at the forefront of healthcare innovation.
What other board appointments or relevant leadership experiences have you had in the past five years?
In the past five years, Julia Zarb has held a range of leadership positions that underscore her commitment to policy, educational, digital health, and AI domains:

  • CEO of Blue x Blue, focusing on generative AI applications in healthcare.
  • Director on Digital Health Canada’s CHIEF Advisory Committee.
  • Advisor for the Pan-Canadian Strategy Map at Digital Health Canada.
  • Director on the eHealth Conference Committee, Digital Health Canada.
  • Committee member on the HIMSS Public Policy Committee in Washington DC.
  • Future leader of the HIMSS Workforce Working Group, with a focus on AI.
  • Contributor to HIMSS AI Public Policy guidelines in the US.
  • Event co-chair for HIMSS Ontario.
  • Chair of the Governance and University Affairs Committee, Victoria University Board of Regents, University of Toronto.
  • Member of the Evidence Synthesis Table, Research Evidence, Analytics, and Evaluation Branch (RAEB), Ministry of Health, Ontario.
  • Academic and Managing Director for CanCOVID and REAL.
  • Advisory Committee member for ‘Skills for Change’, Health Informatics Bridging Program.
  • Delayed Adjunct Faculty Appointment at the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, due to COVID.
  • Invited member of the roundtable for Accelerating the Adoption of AI in Healthcare, Michener Institute, Vector Institute, and University Health Network, Ontario.
  • Advisor to the Research Study on Digital Compassion Professional Competencies, UHN, CAMH, 2022.
  • Recipient of the Jerusalem College of Technology Strategic Partnership Award for leading the Master of Health Informatics program in Israel.
Why do you feel Digital Health Canada members should vote for you?
Your vote for me is a vote for a proven advocate for our shared mission at Digital Health Canada—someone who brings a wealth of cross-sectoral leadership experience and a deep understanding of the intricacies of healthcare innovation. Through my work with Blue x Blue, I’ve been at the coalface of integrating generative AI into healthcare, delivering real-world solutions that advance our core values of service, integrity, and innovation.

I offer the Board strategic insights that are directly informed by the latest advancements in AI, always tailored to enhance access, equity, and empowerment within Canadian healthcare. By drawing on a diverse background that spans academia, private enterprise, and policy, my focus remains on delivering results that benefit all stakeholders, helping to navigate the complexities of today’s healthcare challenges with informed confidence.

This work has fine-tuned my understanding of the evolving digital landscape and the necessary steps to not only meet but exceed our mission and mandate at Digital Health Canada. I offer not just a voice but a proven track record of bridging the gap between complex AI technologies and the practical needs of healthcare systems.

Voting for me is a vote for continued progress, unwavering commitment, and a leadership style that is both forward-thinking and respectful of the multifaceted challenges we face. It’s a vote to ensure that we don’t just keep pace with digital health evolution but actively shape it to serve our communities best. With your trust, I am ready to keep our momentum alive and see our shared vision for a digitally empowered healthcare system increasingly evolve into practice.

Do you currently hold the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems-Canada (CPHIMS-CA) credential?

Educational background
  • MIT Sloan Artificial Intelligence in Health Care Certificate, 2022
  • PhD UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, 2001 Communications Theory (semiotics, postmodernism, linguistics)
  • MA UNIVERSITÉ DE SHERBROOKE,1993 Comparative Literature: Communications Theory o BA HONS VICTORIA COLLEGE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO,1991