2020 CHIA Award Winner Kathy Steegstra

December 16, 2020 – Today we are pleased to announce that Kathy Steegstra (Provincial Health Services Authority) is the winner of the 2020 Digital Health Executive of the Year Award. Digital Health Executive of the Year Award recognizes an executive whose outstanding contributions as a leader have helped advance digital health in Canada.

Kathy has long held senior leadership and executive level positions in the realm of virtual health. An early leader in the world of telemedicine, Kathy led telemedicine in Eastern Ontario in 2000 and then participated in the creation of the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) in 2006. As Vice President of Primary Care at OTN, Kathy was responsible for the adoption, integration and implementation of telemedicine in hospitals and the primary care sector across Ontario. She also participated in the development of the Telehomecare Strategy for Ontario, and worked as a consultant on e-health issues.

In 2016 Kathy was asked to define, enable and lead the virtual health initiative for Provincial Health Services in British Columbia. In her role as Senior Provincial Executive Director, Kathy has built the Office of Virtual Health (OVH), which is a team that provides strategic leadership, project and change management support to Clinical Programs who have a need to integrate virtual health into their service offerings. Kathy’s team have built models and processes for integrating virtual health that have been shared across Canada.

For example, OVH has established the following models and processes, which have been shared with many provinces:

  • Leading practices and guiding principles for a clinically-led virtual health model
  • Clinical and operational governance structure
  • Functional model to clarify roles between Clinical Programs, OVH and IT,
  • Virtual Health initiative life cycle
  • Evaluation framework
  • Enabling virtual health policy
  • Processes with IMITS to navigate the technical environment to support virtual health
  • A collaboration model for how to lead virtual health initiatives that cross multiple organizations

Kathy is highly skilled at identifying cross-organizational and cross-jurisdictional opportunities. She has leveraged purposeful partnerships that she has successfully built across her career with the purpose of advancing virtual health to benefit all patients.

Kathy’s dedication to the advancement of virtual health is described in this nomination, and is unrelenting. She is very active in social media, keeps connected to other’s ideas and successes this way, and contributes her ideas and opinions. She is encouraging of her team to also use social media and to promote virtual health. Communication and expanding awareness of the benefits of virtual health that will lead to increased adoption is evident in one of the Office of Virtual Health’s goals set by Kathy – specifically to develop and implement a strategic communication plan to showcase Virtual Health success and value across PHSA and beyond. She is diligent in ongoing communications though both internal and external communication, submitting articles in journals, newsletters and websites. For example, the Canadian Healthcare Technology Magazine, October 2019. In addition, she is eager for opportunities to speak and some examples are provided in other sections of this nomination. She knows that success means we have greater engagement, adoption and partnerships to meet virtual health goals. Newsletters, bulletins, awards and recognitions go out regularly from the Office of Virtual Health. The Office of Virtual Health website, and patient video are some recent examples of this ongoing promotion activities led by Kathy. In 2019 Office of Virtual Health and clinical partners were recognized by PHSA with a “PHSA Plus award” and given high profile throughout the organization.

Kathy is well known for her high energy, big smile and a willingness to listen and to lead. She knows the challenge of moving a traditional, and complex health system from current state to the new digital word and making sure that the patient remains at the center of our intent. She respectfully ensures that patients are involved in co-leading at all stages of virtual health, from strategic planning to evaluation of solutions implemented. Using her roots in clinical care, her extensive experience and wise council she has created a team, built and strengthened partnerships and proven that virtual health does make a transformative difference for our patients, and for the clinicians that serve them.

Congratulations on your award, Kathy!

Learn more about the 2020 Canadian Health Informatics Awards here.