The power of collaboration in the Canadian digital health space

By Leon Salvail, Digital Health Canada Board President and President and CEO, Gevity

Showcasing the importance of connections was one of the driving forces behind the recent rebrand of COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association to Digital Health Canada. As the pace of change accelerates and our industry grows and diversifies in response, the borders between professions, organizations, technology, and geography are shifting. Connections  — public and private, cross-sector, inter-disciplinary – are more important than ever. Our new name is inclusive of the broad spectrum of sectors, organizations, and professionals working to create the future of health in Canada.

Organizations in search of sustainable growth are replacing the ‘beat the competition’ business attitude of the past with strategic alliances and mergers that drive innovation and deliver solutions. For example, the Canadian healthcare consulting firm Gevity Consulting Inc. recently welcomed US-based Emergis Solutions Inc. into the Gevity group of companies – a connection that increases Gevity’s presence in the US market and strengthens their hospital information systems implementation capabilities. It’s just one of many examples of companies looking to collaborate to bring capabilities, capacity and innovation to the Canadian and even global market place.

Today’s marketplace is ready for mutually beneficial partnerships that leverage strengths and experiences to create cooperative teams working toward common goals. By looking outwards, by seeking partnerships and collaborative opportunities, companies find they can grow their networks, learn new ways of doing things, cut costs, increase efficiencies and find new solutions to old problems.

Telecom giant Verizon calls this concept “co-opetition.” By engaging with developers and start-ups, bigger players can access innovation. Nimble start-ups gain more robust distribution networks from larger, more established organizations. Collaborations break down geographic and language barriers and fresh ideas flow in all directions.

Internal connections are valuable, too. As Keltie Jamieson of Nova Scotia Health Authority discovered (see “Spotlight: Fostering a Culture of Learning at Nova Scotia Health Authority”, in this issue), gathering disparate teams together for group study exercises had the unexpected benefit of cross-team symbiosis, as IT staff and front-line care providers learned from one another as well as from the CPHIMS-CA material they were studying.

The value of public/private collaboration

Emerging health technology offers huge potential, but system complexities and jurisdictional barriers can stand in the way of innovation. Facilitated connection between public and private sector organizations has the potential to increase acceptance of new technologies, leading to faster adoption and integration.

Digital Health Canada strives to offer members opportunities for public and private sector connections, at regional events like Toronto’s UpOnDIGITAL or in working groups like our Communities of Action. Collaboration between public and private entities leads to improvements for both. The competition that drives innovation and spurs product improvement in the private sector can also power public sector efficiencies and cost-cutting.

Connectors in the health technology ecosystem

Apps, AI, Internet of Things, social networking, and patient inclusion movements with their shift toward self and remote monitoring, prevention, and wellness are ushering in an era of the personalization of care. As the healthcare ecosystem shifts and fragments, connectors like Digital Health Canada help technology companies, healthcare providers, and patients connect, collaborate, and progress toward a healthcare ecosystem populated by effective, efficient new technologies.

Creating connections with patients: The Patients Included accreditation body has listed the e-Health Conference and Tradeshow 2018 (May 27-30, Vancouver) as an accredited conference. See

Digital Health Canada enables the positive impacts of connections. We bring together stakeholders, organizations, communities, and networks across sectors and domains, fostering connections that explore the potential for collaboration, shared learning and working together to meet industry challenges.

Connections are key to thriving in a country as big and diverse as the one we are privileged to work in. Let’s continue the work of breaking down Canada’s healthcare ecosystem silos, sharing our successes and challenges as we collaborate to meet our common goal: a robust, nimble healthcare ecosystem that offers optimum patient care.