2020 CHIA Award Winner Gillian Sweeney

December 16, 2020 – Today we are pleased to announce that Gillian Sweeney (Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Informatics) is the winner of the 2020 Leadership in Digital Health Award. The Leadership in Digital Health Award recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions as a thought leader to advance digital health or virtual health in Canada.

Through her work at the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) and Digital Health Canada, Gillian has helped move the Canadian HI agenda forward. She provides expertise and leadership in the areas of electronic health record management and change management of digital health solutions.

At NLCHI, Gillian leads the team responsible for provincial leadership of eHealth projects and clinical information programs. She also supports virtual care delivery throughout the province. This includes hospital information systems, provincial EHRs, EMRs and change management, all of which support clinician adoption, training and education.

Specifically, Gillian’s team developed and implemented NL’s provincial EHR, HEALTHe NL, which supports more informed healthcare decisions, enabled safer patient care and reduced duplicate testing. Since implementation, Gillian’s team has worked to enhance the functionality of the provincial EHR, adding several new features such as an organ donor flag, access to the cardiac catheterization lab at Eastern Health, a provincial scheduling tool for Telehealth services, an eOrdering project and eConsult.

NLCHI’s Pharmacy Network connects all community pharmacies throughout the province and has become a foundational digital health solution enabling safer patient care through improved medication management. Gillian and her team have led initiatives that leverage the comprehensive information available through the Pharmacy Network, including launch of NL’s Prescription Monitoring Program and a Prescriber Report Card (rolling out in 2020).

Furthermore, under Gillian’s leadership, NLCHI has made huge strides in providing care closer to home. Through initiatives such as the Telepathology Network and Telehealth, Gillian is helping make NL one of the first provinces to launch a province-wide pathology network and is expanding telehealth services throughout the province to physician offices and patient homes. This is crucial to moving the HI agenda forward – by increasing access to care for those in rural and remote regions of the province.

Gillian is a recognized digital health leader in Newfoundland and Labrador, throughout Atlantic Canada and across the country. Her involvement with Digital Health Canada has further bolstered that leadership. Gillian was involved in the establishment of the Atlantic Canada chapter of Digital Health Canada (the first regional branch, launched in 2018) and served on its Board of Directors. She is now co-chair of the Atlantic Chapter Advisory Committee and a member of the Finance and Audit Committee.

Further showcasing Gillian’s influence in her jurisdiction is eDOCSNL – a provincial program digitizing clinician offices, improving communication and improving access to patient information between healthcare providers in multiple care settings. Under her direction, the eDOCSNL program team was selected as a top finalist for 2019 Canadian Health Informatics Awards for the Project Implementation Team category.

In addition, Gillian receives regular invitations to present at local and national healthcare conferences. She participates in panel discussions, moderates sessions and hosts keynote talks. Throughout her career, her presentations have promoted telehealth, remote patient monitoring, digital health, multi-jurisdictional networks, electronic health records and pathology data analytics.

Additionally, Gillian was recently invited to speak at the Women in Leadership Conference in St. John’s on May 7, 2020. Here she is being positioned as a female trailblazer in the digital health sector, presenting to attendees on how to be an effective leader and implement change in a challenging industry.

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2000, Gillian has gained experience in several areas including clinical care, program and human resource management, pharmaceuticals and insurance. This experience has shaped her digital health journey and added to her knowledge of health informatics.

Gillian has shown extensive dedication to the health informatics community – both in her role at NLCHI, and as a mentor, public speaker and educator. Her participation at healthcare events such as eHealth, Orion Healthcare Collaborative, and Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Digital Health Symposium proves her dedication to the healthcare community. She also promoted the shift toward digital health at the 2018 Access, Privacy, Security and Information Management (APSIM) conference.

In addition, Gillian has contributed her expertise in the media, advocating for greater digital health opportunities and promoting Canadian HI advancement to the general population. She was featured in Access Magazine, published by the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, discussing the role of nursing in shaping provincial eHealth. In June 2019, she featured in the Media Planet Digital Health campaign published in Maclean’s magazine and online, providing her perspective on the Canadian digital health landscape and the opportunities presented by digital health innovations.

Under Gillian’s guidance, her team is having a significant impact on NL’s healthcare system including hospital information systems, the provincial EHR, EMR, virtual care delivery, and change management.

Gillian and her team led the implementation of HEALTHe NL. This program is considered to be one of the most comprehensive EHRs in Canada, reaching over 8,000 clinical users in 2019.

Implementation included the foundation for future eHealth initiatives, such as eOrdering and eConsult. Additionally, Gillian’s management in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association led to a single provincial EMR program that is integrated with NL’s EHR, called eDOCSNL. This program impacts all aspects of health care including primary care, primary health care and community specialists. Today, 60 per cent of NL’s population has a digital health record in an eDOCSNL EMR.

Additionally, Gillian led the implementation of the province’s first Telepathology network as well as a national multijurisdictional telepathology network by working with partners at the University Health Network in Ontario and Manitoba, and Canada Health Infoway. The initiatives allow digitized pathology slides to be shared electronically within NL and other provinces. This benefits pathologists and health care institutions in the areas of diagnostics, consultation, education, on-going professional development, and research.

Gillian was also instrumental in the deployment of NL’s all-encompassing pharmacy network, which recorded more than 10.7 million dispensed prescriptions in 2019. Finally, under Gillian’s leadership, NLCHI became the administrative lead for NL’s Prescription Monitoring Program which allowed providers to make the most informed decisions when choosing controlled drugs for patients, leading to safer medication management. Since the program started, 86 percent of pharmacists report increased confidence when dispensing monitored drugs and there has been a 30 percent decrease in patients receiving opioids from two or more prescribers in a 30-day period.

Gillian is Vice President, Clinical Information Programs and Change Leadership at the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. In this role, she is responsible for providing oversight, leadership and governance of hospital information systems, the provincial EHR HEALTHe NL, eDOCSNL, the provincial electronic medical record program, as well as the provincial Telehealth and Telepathology programs.

Her education includes a Bachelor of Nursing and a Master’s in Business Administration from Memorial University from Memorial University. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2000, Gillian has gained experience in several areas including, clinical care, program and human resource management as well as private industry experience in the pharmaceutical and insurance sectors. All of which have shaped her digital health journey. Since then, she has gained more than 15 years’ experience in private industry and healthcare.

Her other achievements include her membership in Beta Gamma Sigma member (the honour society for business program students in North America), and her receipt of a Faculty of Business Administration Dean’s Award. Additionally, she received a bronze medal for her performance on the CCPE Accreditation Exam, the Margaret Fitzpatrick Morgan Medal in Nursing, and the ARNNL Leadership Award.

Congratulations on your award, Gillian!

Learn more about the 2020 Canadian Health Informatics Awards here.