Meet Board Candidate Brent McGaw

Name: Brent McGaw
Title: National Market Development Executive
Organization: Maximus Canada
Province: Ontario

How long have you been a member of Digital Health Canada?
I have been a member of COACH and then Digital Health Canada since the mid 1990’s (with a minor gap when I was working in the United States).

Why do you want to join the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors at this point in your career?
I have always been fascinated with the healthcare system in Canada and chose early on, to focus my career on the better use of technology to improve the quality, safety, access and efficacy of healthcare for Canadians. For over 25 years, I have worked in various roles in both the public and private sectors, including as an entrepreneur. For 12 of these years, I worked for Infoway with a mission to “foster and accelerate the adoption and use of Electronic Health Record Systems in Canada”. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to work with a wide range of healthcare leaders from within government, healthcare delivery organizations, technology companies and entrepreneurs, and many frontline healthcare professionals. I saw firsthand what went well, and what did not, and why. In short, I have learned a lot over my extensive career to date, and I believe I have a lot of experience and transferrable skills and knowledge that I can offer to advance our common purpose. As for why I want to join the Board at this point in my career, there are really a variety of reasons. Firstly, I believe COVID-19 has helped to put a spotlight on our healthcare system. While healthcare organizations and front-line providers heroically stepped up to the challenge, COVID-19 has also shown that there were and are many gaps and that technology can play a critical role. I believe we are poised for some dramatic changes in Canada, but there is also the risk we might revert back to some of the “old ways”. These next 2 years are particularly critical. My second reason, is that I feel I can bring a lot to the table. I believe my Digital Health career to date will allow me to bring useful experience and insight to the Digital Health Canada Board and help position the organization for continued success and growth going forward. I believe in DHC’s mission, vision and values and believe that DHC’s strong national leadership is needed now more than ever.

How does your experience align with the Digital Health Canada strategic plan and mandate?
My entire healthcare career has been focused on improving healthcare and the pursuit of what we now refer to as the Quadruple Aim. I began my career with the strong belief that technology could greatly improve how we provide healthcare and optimize health, and in particular, empower people (patients) to play a more active role in their own health and well-being. My career has focused on realizing this goal. I have been an active member of COACH and now Digital Health Canada since the beginning of my career. I have greatly valued the relationships and connections I have developed over many years. While there are always new people joining the movement, which is great, I have also been impressed by how many others, like me, share the passion and have committed their careers to this objective as well. Digital Health Canada’s mission is to “connect, inspire, and educate digital health professionals who are creating the future of health in Canada”. This mission resonates with me as I have always worked hard to build my relationships and connect with other digital health leaders. I seek opportunities to share ideas, inspire others and to be inspired, and to draw attention to leaders and best practices that can help others. I have brokered many connections between organizations and leaders, I have nominated many people for awards and recognition, and I have presented at conferences to share my learnings and insights, and to learn from others. Finally, I am a huge supporter of education starting with my own on-going development. In summary, I believe my own professional career aligns very well to DHCs mission, vision and values. My experience includes international work, learnings from both the public and private sectors, entrepreneurial and start-up, broad health industry knowledge, an extensive network, and a commitment to digital health excellence.

What unique skills, perspectives and contributions would you bring to the Digital Health Canada Board?
I believe the key skills and perspectives that I can bring to the Board include the following:
Person/Family Centric Mindset: I have always strived to take a person (patient) and family-centric view. Being truly patient and family centred is hard, as there can be many other competing pressures. However, at the end of the day we need to do what we would want if we were in need of care at that moment. While this may seem an obvious focus, in my experience, it can easily get lost without deliberate attention.
Systems Thinking: As an industrial engineer, I have a strong background in systems design and understand how this can be leveraged to provide a more efficient and effective health system that is accessible, safe, and effective in providing meaningful outcomes and value-for-money.
Governance: I have a solid understanding of governance and the role it plays in decision-making, accountability and ultimately realizing results.
Innovation: I started my own healthcare IT company in the mid-90’s building one of the first Chronic Disease Management “apps” helping young people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes better manage their own care and to collaborate with their broader care team. I am a big proponent of innovators and entrepreneurs and the important role they play in improving healthcare for all. Having actually done it, I truly know how hard it can be!
Digital Health Experience: As noted above, I have a broad range of transferable skills and experience in the digital health space in Canada and the US, in public and private sectors, and having worked with a wide range of digital healthcare stakeholders and leaders.
Financial Stewardship: The most recent audited financial statements for Digital Health Canada notes that “a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the Organization’s ability to continue as a going concern.” I suspect this situation is going to require an active Board who can work closely with Management to identify sound strategies for a path to recovery. COVID has been a major source of strain, but has also helped to put the spotlight on how digital health needs to be part of the solution going forward. In summary, I believe I bring a solid understanding of the Canadian Health System and its’ many stakeholders, how we compare internationally, and where there are opportunities to better harness the capabilities of digital health to improve healthcare for all Canadians. Canada needs a strong and effective Digital Health Canada!

Do you or have or have you ever had any direct patient care experience (clinical)?
No. I am not a healthcare professional by training so have not had any direct patient care experience. This said, I have been involved in the care of several family members and friends, as they have dealt with various serious healthcare situations. I have also worked closely with a wide range of healthcare clinicians throughout my career on a wide range of projects and other engagements. I am cognizant of the fact that many technology “advancements” have not always felt that way for providers. I am pleased that provider experience is part of the Quadruple Aim and that as digital health professionals we need to always be mindful of how we can make it easier for providers to do what they love – looking after people.

What segments within the Digital Health Canada community do you feel you will best represent?
Executives/CIOs; Telehealth; Vendors IM/IT Practitioners; Leaders; National eHealth Organizations; Digital Health Entrepreneurs; Insurance

With which Digital Health Canada committees, task groups or activities have you volunteered in past five years? Describe your most significant contributions to Digital Health Canada’s mission.
I have been a regular participant and presenter at many conferences and webinars over my career. While I have not volunteered with any Digital Health Canada committees or working groups over the last five years, I have done so in the past. DHC’s mission is “to connect, inspire, and educate digital health professionals who are creating the future of health in Canada.” When I was with Infoway, I had a unique opportunity to connect with healthcare leaders across the country. I had many opportunities to inspire others and to be inspired by their ideas, passions, and hard work. I participated in many working groups to advance digital health – whether for provincial lab, drug, imaging, or innovation initiatives. I encouraged many of my project teams to present and share their learnings, and often joined them in these efforts. I was involved in publishing several formal journal papers which were particular achievements. One of the sponsors I nominated won the Minister’s Medal in Ontario for their work to help improve clinician order sets and share these widely with others. I have always looked for how I can connect learn and grow.

What other board appointments or relevant leadership experiences have you had in the past five years?
This will be my first formal board role and I am very much looking forward to bringing my passion, experience and drive to the DHC Board. I know several of the other Board members already. I also know many of the DHC members, and believe I can help represent their ideas and goals for further strengthening and building the DHC organization and its impact.

Please tell us why you feel Digital Health Canada members should vote for you.
I firmly believe Canada is at a critical inflection point. We have witnessed how our healthcare system has responded this past year. From front-line providers to administrative leaders to IT vendors and entrepreneurs all have really stepped up to battle COVID-19. We have seen how technology has played a vital role from enabling virtual care to on-line booking, to apps for mental health or solutions for remote monitoring. While Canada has made a lot of progress over the last 10-15 years, and the last year in particular, to advance Digital Health, we know the gap is still significant. I believe there has never been a more exciting and essential time for Digital Health Canada. I hope to contribute my passion, my systems-thinking, my experience, my insights, my relationships, and my energy to help advance our common cause – improving Canada’s healthcare system to deliver better outcomes, a better experience, better value, and better health.

Do you currently hold the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems – Canada (CPHIMS-CA) credential?
Committed to achieving my CPHIMS-CA (as my previous credential has expired).

What is your educational background? Please list all degrees and designations.
B.A.Sc. (Honours) – Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto; M.A.Sc. (Honours) – Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto; P.Eng. – Professional Engineers of Ontario

Please include a brief biography including highlights of experience and expertise in health informatics/digital health. 
My career began with Ernst & Young. I helped lead many large health restructuring projects including several hospital mergers (London and Ottawa) and multiple major reengineering projects. My expertise was leveraging robotics, automation, and IT to improve performance and reduce costs. In 1997, I launched a healthcare consulting and technology company with two partners. In 1999, we developed what is likely one of the first “mobile apps” for supporting children with Type 1 diabetes. Our solution connected the person, their data, their family, and their care team. Unfortunately, we were a little ahead of our time, and the market was much less friendly to entrepreneurs at the time! I decided to go back to industry and ran the cardiac monitoring and ultrasound service business for Philips Medical Systems for Canada. I then moved to Florida to lead professional services for the US and Canada for Dictaphone (now Nuance) just as voice and speech recognition was taking off. This gave me the opportunity to work with some of the largest healthcare systems in the US. This was great experience for me to learn a different health system. Returning to Canada, I joined Bell Canada leading healthcare industry strategy securing 8-figures in Board funding. After Bell, I worked for Infoway for over a decade in both national and jurisdictional roles and helped manage >$500M in digital health investments. I now work for Maximus, a global managed services firm that specializes exclusively in helping governments deliver health and human services to the public.

Meet the other candidates for election here.