Dr. Syed Sibte Raza Abidi is Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Medicine at Dalhousie University, Halifax. He has been involved with digital health academics, innovation, advocacy, mentorship and strategic thinking for over 25 years. He is the scientiﬁc director of the NICHE (kNowledge Intensive Computing for Healthcare Enterprises) research group. His research program titled “Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Lifetime Healthcare”, focuses on developing AI-driven digital health solutions for care providers, patients/public and decision makers. He research has led to health data analytics frameworks for precision medicine, remote patient monitoring, clinical decision support and health system optimization. He translates his AI-driven healthcare solutions as point-of-care and point-of-need digital health systems targeting personalized health, virtual care, patient empowerment, and digital therapeutics. He is experienced in digital transformation activities and is involved in various international digital health adoption activities. Dr. Abidi is the recipient of the CHIA’s leadership in health informatics award, the prestigious International Award for Innovation in Medical Informatics (awarded at World Expo in Hannover, Germany), Research Excellence Award and six (6) best paper awards. He is a board member of Digital Health Canada and International Association of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, associate editor of PLOS Digital Health journal. He reviews digital health project proposals for organizations in Canada, USA and Europe. Dr. Abidi is an experienced digital health academic, innovator and practitioner who has trained over 800 health informaticians, published 275 scientiﬁc papers, supervised 90 graduate theses, secured research grants totaling $18 million, delivered 90 invited talks, and has developed around 45 innovative digital health systems. He has extensive international digital health experience and has developed digital health systems in diﬀerent countries. He provides expert consultation regarding digital health project review, planning, transformation, implementation and policy, both within Canada and globally.
How long have you been a member of Digital Health Canada?
Why do you want to join the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors at this point in your career?
As a digital health academic, mentor, researcher and practitioner over a career spanning 25 years, I have acquired both knowledge and experience about the challenges, opportunities and solutions needed to expand digital health exposure in the Canadian health system. In my career, I have had the opportunity to engage and demonstrate to health professionals and decision makers the art-of-the-possible with regards to innovative digital health solutions. Now, at this point in my career, my motivation is to bring my expertise and experience to advance the digital health agenda in Canada by working with Digital Health Canada. I have had the privilege of serving on the Digital Health Canada Board for the past 4 years. I want to join the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors, for an additional term, because I want to maintain an academic voice within the board so as to further develop programs and opportunities for actively engaging and supporting students as they are our future digital health workforce, and also to develop academically-oriented skill development programs for early career practitioners and young entrepreneurs. As an academic, I am familiar with and practice EDI principles in recruitment and training, and I will like to bring an EDI lens to Digital Health Canada. As an innovator who is familiar with the lifecycle of digital health innovation, from the bench to the bedside, I am passionate about generating opportunities and resources to help move the dial on digital health innovation in Canada. We are witnessing the emergence of disruptive technologies (such as artiﬁcial intelligence, block chain, robotics, smart homes, digital therapeutics, etc.)—the question is how to incorporate these technologies within the Canadian digital health eco-system to improve healthcare at the system and individual levels. Given my expertise and experience of applying disruptive technologies in healthcare, my motivation for joining the board is to formulate digital health focused innovation and transformation programs that will help Canadian digital health practitioners and healthcare organizations to embrace these technologies. As I visit healthcare institutions and forums around the world, especially in Europe and the Far East, I have seen how national health organizations have positioned themselves to embrace digital health innovations within their healthcare system. I strongly feel that to be both competitive in the world, Canada also needs to further strengthen digital health innovation programs that provide mentorships, technical skill development, thought leadership, funding and data-informed strategic priorities. I believe that working as a board member of Digital Health Canada, I will get the opportunity to use my experiences to advance the formulation of digital health innovation programs similar to other developed countries. Since Digital Health Canada is the main proponent of digital health in Canada, I believe that I can facilitate Digital Health Canada to work with healthcare institutions, government organizations (such as Health Canada, CIHR) and industry to develop a viable and vibrant digital health innovation eco-system in Canada. I believe that I have the passion, energy, vision, expertise and experience to promote the utility and eﬃcacy of digital health innovations. As a Board Director of Digital Health Canada, I will continue my efforts towards the formulation and operationalization of a Canadian innovation based digital health agenda, under the auspices of Digital Health Canada.
How does your experience align with the Digital Health Canada strategic plan and mandate?
Digital Health Canada’s strategic mandate is to connect Canadian digital health community, incubate knowledge and advocate for the utility of digital health solutions to accelerate positive changes to the Canadian healthcare system. My digital health experience and expertise as a practitioner, educator, researcher, mentor, advocate, innovator and strategic thinker is directly aligned with Digital Health Canada’s strategic mandate. For over 25 years, I have (a) developed innovative digital health solutions and demonstrated their utility to health practitioners. By serving as an visionary thinker and problem-solver with knowledge of digital health technologies and healthcare challenges, I have successfully bridged the gap between issues and solutions, and have established concrete functional connections between digital health researchers and the Canadian healthcare system; (b) generated new digital health knowledge that has led to innovative solutions for digital therapeutics, health system optimization, precision medicine, personalized health, clinical decision support, patient empowerment and lifetime health; (c) as a strategic thinker developed technical blueprints, policy briefs and technology incubation programs targeting personalized, proactive, decentralized and value-based healthcare services; (d) advocated the utility and eﬀectiveness of digital health by training hundreds of digital health practitioners, demonstrating innovative digital health solutions at various national and international conferences and forums—I have given several invited talks advocating the role of digital health in terms of the vision of personalized, preventive and proactive healthcare in a digitally connected healthcare setting.
What unique skills, perspectives and contributions would you bring to the Digital Health Canada Board?
I am a digital health innovator, educator, mentor and hands-on practitioner—I oﬀer the unique blending of academia, scientiﬁc discovery, applied solution development, capacity building, transformation and innovative thinking skills. My perspective is lifetime health for all—i.e. the development and application of innovative digital health technologies to provide personalized, persistent and proactive healthcare services targeting both healthcare practitioners and patients to improve health outcomes. My perspective is that digital health has a central role to play in both disease prevention and health promotion. Given the opportunities to collect and analyze large volumes of multi-modal (psychosocial, determinants of health, lifestyle, genomic, and clinical) data it is now possible to predict the onset of chronic diseases in populations, remotely monitor and guide patients with regards to their therapeutic targets, modify harmful behaviours, support healthcare providers with evidence-base decision making tools, optimize health system use in line with choosing wisely initiatives, and guide decision- and policy makers with data-driven projections and interactive visualizations. I am involved in developing such AI-driven digital health applications. Given my background, I believe that I will contribute as (a) interface between health informatics educational institutions and industry to formulate integrated capacity building programs delivered by Digital Health Canada; (b) advocate to establish strategic collaboration between the Digital Health Canada and government organizations such as Health Canada, CIHR, SSHRC and NSERC to develop digital health innovation programs; (c) mentor to early-career professionals and early-stage digital health entrepreneurs by establishing a digital health incubator and knowledge exchange forum; (d) demonstrator of digital health innovations to help move beyond the current digital health maturity levels of Canadian healthcare institutions; (e) author of digital health blueprint and white papers; and (f) promoter of Digital Health Canada’s vision and services at international digital health forums which I frequently attend and present at.
Do you or have or have you ever had any direct patient care experience (clinical)?
I am not involved in direct patient care from a clinical perspective. I work with healthcare providers from multiple medical specialities
What segments within the Digital Health Canada community do you feel you will best represent? Select all that apply.
- Emerging Professionals
- IM/IT Practitioners
- Academic & 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? Describe your most significant contributions to Digital Health Canada’s mission.
I have worked with academic alliance and capacity building initiatives. In addition, I have been a regular and active presenter at e-Health conferences. My main contribution to Digital Health Canada’s mission has been the promotion of digital health, training and mentoring of health informatics professionals and demonstration of digital health innovations in the healthcare system, and strategic thinking/planning for the advancement and implementation of digital health solutions in the Canadian healthcare system. I led the initiation of student oriented research dissemination weekly webinars that were held last summer.
What other board appointments or relevant leadership experiences have you had in the past five years?
Director of Health Informatics, Director of NICHE Research Group, Board Member: Digital Health Canada, Board Director: International Association of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, Associate Editor PLOS Digital Health journal, Chair of 22nd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIME 2022), Halifax. Committee members for a wide range of national and international digital health innovation and strategic planning committees
Please tell us why you feel Digital Health Canada members should vote for you.
I believe that Digital Health Canada’s members should consider voting for me because I bring to the board an established track record of contributions to digital health through the training of future health informaticians, academic-government-industry partnerships, engagement with broader healthcare and digital health community, demonstration of digital health innovation, strategic thinking and vision for a future digitally-enabled healthcare system. I am a passionate, EDI focused, internationally recognized digital health academic, researcher, practitioner and innovator. As a board member I will bring a unique set of academic and research-driven knowledge, skills, though process and experience that will help further enhance the contributions of Digital Health Canada to the Canadian healthcare system. Over 25 years, I have worked both on the front-lines with healthcare providers and decision-makers, and in the backroom workshops with health informatics trainees, system analysts, IT developers and health informatics professionals to design, develop and implement innovative digital health solutions for health data analytics, precision medicine, clinical decision support, patient empowerment, ambient living and health system optimization. By being a board member, I will be able to further advocate the art-of-the-possible to healthcare stakeholders with respect to the potential of emerging computing technologies to transform healthcare services. I believe that Digital Health Canada’s members should vote for me because my all-encompassing experience of the mechanics of how to bring digital health innovations from the bench to the bedside will be instrumental to moving the dial on digital health innovation within the Canadian healthcare system. I believe that Digital Health Canada’s members should vote for me as a board member of Digital Health Canada as I plan to serve the Canadian digital health community as follows: (1) Be the academic representative for the Canadian digital health student body and academic institutions—promoting the need to better engage and support students in their career development and mentor recent graduates and emerging professionals. I plan to strengthen the ties between digital health industry and digital health educational programs to help train a workforce that is ready to enter the workforce with minimal on-boarding and in-house training. (2) Promote EDI principles in the planning and programming of services, opportunities, training, engagement and professional recognitions. (3) Develop digital transformation programs to both promote digital health innovations through research activities, and to translate digital health innovations into services and products. (4) Establish mentorship and skill development programs to mentor and promote young digital health entrepreneurs so that they can bring their ideas and innovations to fruition. Such a program can connect entrepreneurs with established industry partners. (5) Establish and strengthen a tri-party interface between digital health industry, digital health innovation centers/researchers and government funding programs to help the members of Digital Health Canada to better align with Health Canada’s priorities. (6) Engage the Canadian public’s role in the digital health agenda by showcasing the utility of consumer health informatics. Given the upsurge in personal health devices and associated mobile health apps, Digital Health Canada can serve as a validated resource for consumer health application design, evaluation and certiﬁcation. Consumer/public advocacy of digital health with respect to the changing trends in healthcare thinking is important and needs to be embraced by Digital Health Canada. In conclusion, I will bring to the Board of Digital Health Canada extensive experience of national and international digital health innovation, capacity building, implementation and advocacy experience, together with on-going collaborations with industry, academia, healthcare institutions, government agencies, international health organizations and research groups.
Do you currently hold the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems – Canada (CPHIMS-CA) credential?
What is your educational background? Please list all degrees and designations.
1. PhD (Computer Science) 2. Masters in Computer Engineering 3. Bachelors in Electronic Engineering