Founder and Chief Executive Officer
The Uncomplicated Family
How long have you been a member of Digital Health Canada?
I became aware of Digital Health Canada a few months ago, and joined immediately. I was very excited to learn there is a well-formed, strategic organization that has been advancing health care computing in Canada since 1975; primarily because I have been seeking this community since entering the digital health sector in 2006. I recently attended the 7th Annual Digital Health Canada/ANHIX Calgary Winter Conference in Calgary on February 5, 2019. I was inspired by the group of visionaries, evidence-based thinkers, entrepreneurial catalysts, and people who (like me) believe that Canada, can achieve inclusive, integrated, and outcomes-driven health care through partnership and advocacy. I left the conference believing that I have a place with Digital Health Canada. In particular, I have the relationships, experience, vision, and energy to help advance its mandate and strategic goals. Canada’s vast geography, diversity, growing digital infrastructure, and robust network of people both nationally and internationally presents enormous opportunities for all Canadians committed to working at the intersections of clinical services, research, technology, and advocacy.
Why do you want to join the Digital Health Canada Board of Directors?
I hope to be on the board as I believe that Canada, of any country in the world, has the resources, relationships, research, and expertise to be a world leader in the Digital Health space. My entry into the sector is grounded based both on my personal and professional passions and experiences. I am a mother of children with disabilities (Autism and Fibular Hemimelia), clinician, social entrepreneur, and advocate. With more than a billion people living with disabilities around the world, affordable, accessible, and easy-to-use digital health solutions are critical for us to live the Canadian values of patient-centred care and health equity. Since 2006, our combined clinical services and technology teams have been living Digital Health Canada’s mandate. I believe that my focus and energy will be best served working in partnership with other Directors and stakeholders to advance the organization’s goals. I am actively connecting a large, integrated professional network of people with talents to support digital health within Canada. I am involved in multiple partnerships, including leading Canada’s first EUREKA cluster project across three continents, along with leading an international consortium of 18 developers from seven countries working to jump-start the medical health gaming industry through the Panacea Gaming Platform. I have also represented Canada on several trade missions focused on digital health, along with actively sharing my “pull no punches” story and path as a social digital health entrepreneur. I am standing at the intersection of clinical expertise, client-centred services, and technology with a personal mandate to get better outcomes for families with disabilities. My goals have been to help put Canadian digital healthcare on the map in the process. I believe that Digital Health Canada will benefit from my network, experiences, ideas, and credibility, along with informing my learning as we grow.
How does your experience align with the Digital Health Canada strategic plan and mandate?
My work and ambitions align with Digital Health Canada’s vision to seek out people who share it, especially those with the skills, knowledge, and resources to support it. The most important aspect of my experience is that I am an example of a Canadian who saw the potential of digital health, and have worked tirelessly over the past decade to create something credible, recognized, and well-established from nothing. I have experienced every aspect of what it takes to succeed in advancing digital health ideas in Canada and other jurisdictions. I have come to understand the risks, the regulatory systems, the research, the clinical expertise, and the urgent need for integrated health services and systems. I am passionate about the importance of keeping patients at the centre of the experience, the technological opportunities and limitations, and so much more. I also understand the challenge of integrating health care (historically, a highly traditional, institutionalized, risk-focused sector) with the wildly new, exciting, and emerging frontiers of technology (Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain etc) . To be more specific, my experience aligns with Digital Health Canada’s strategic plan and mandate in the following ways: I am engaged in partnerships, research contracts, service contracts, and exploratory conversations with governments, hospitals, schools, academic institutions, Indigenous communities, allied health professionals, physicians, and technology leaders across Canada and the world. My role in these partnerships has been as a clinical expert and innovation partner to assist these stakeholders in “getting connected” in the digital health movement and network. My company, Kids Uncomplicated, serves diverse, hard to reach, and, sometimes, disenfranchised populations, including isolated communities, Indigenous communities, and children and families with disabilities. We have a thirteen year track record of building trust, getting positive outcomes, and demonstrating more efficient and effective ways of working within these communities. I am a natural connector, proponent of lifelong learning, and strong advocate for social entrepreneurs, women, children and families with disabilities, along with evidence-informed research. I am an invited member of (and mentor in) Entrepreneur Organization (EO). I was EY’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Prairie Provinces for 2016. I have represented Canada on trade missions to Belgium (2016) and South Korea (2018), and converted both opportunities into prestigious, international business partnerships (i.e., The Panacea Gaming Platform; medical virtual reality hardware and software commercialization). I am the thought leader and catalyst for the highly-engaged team at The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group, a team that has made digital platforms the base of our operations. We understand how to assess and adopt technology platforms, as well as the processes, practices, and change management emphasis required to see a digital platform effectively and efficiently support an organization’s business goals. I am a natural storyteller, brand builder, and strategist. The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group, like Digital Health Canada, has multiple audiences and offerings. I recognize and understand the importance of highly engaging, consistent, and business-focused differentiators, and the supporting brand power that amplifies them.
What unique skills, perspectives and contributions would you bring to the Digital Health Canada Board?
While not a conventional starting point for this type of position, I am proud to report that I am a co-parent to five children, two with disabilities, above all else. I truly believe that my role as a mother has energizes me to advocate for better outcomes for vulnerable, under-served, and fringe populations. In particular, I am referring to: people in rural areas without access to specialized health services; minority populations where focused- research on their demographic is lacking; clinical practitioners requiring increased access to resources and mentorship; and populations where cost is a great barrier to health services. I believe digital health applications have the potential to be an equalizer for all these populations if we stay focused on affordable, accessible, and easy to use solutions. I hope to bring this perspective as well as a proven path of innovation and commercialization to the Board and its Members. As a board member for Digital Health Canada, I will also bring a frontline health service provider perspective, which I believe is critical in assisting all stakeholders to stay grounded in what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. This year, I am celebrating my 20th year as a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist, and I still actively serve Kids Uncomplicated’s clients when an extra clinician is required. I plan to provide insights in the form of a vision for the future, along with evidence-based thinking, which will assist the Board in plotting its next three-year strategy. I want to contribute my insights to the Board to ensure that it is grounded in what is possible, realistic, and aligned with the best interests of the network’s members, potential members, and stakeholders. My evidence-based approach to decision-making stems from clinical practice as much as my Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology and three years as a Provisional PhD Candidate in Rehabilitation Medicine. I will bring multiple examples of ways that Canada can lead digital health advancements while benefitting from a combination of national and international opportunities. Within Canada, I am: Creating digital health jobs; Sharing new models of funding, new ways of working, clinical expertise, and a path forward toward commercialization for other entrepreneurs • Partnering with Canadian innovation groups and digital infrastructure leaders to support commercialization and wide-spread distribution; Partnering with researchers who can validate and support the benefits of technology solutions in getting more equitable health outcomes for Canadians; Sharing our story as one example of a homegrown digital health success story for Alberta and Canada; Delivering digital health solutions in hospitals (e.g., a pilot study at the Stollery Children’s Hospital Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit), Indigenous communities (e.g., Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council), and rural areas in Alberta and British Columbia (i.e., families served by Kids Uncomplicated and Teleroo™) Internationally, I have been working to elevate Canada’s visibility in the digital health space by leading one of its first cluster projects to catalyze industry-driven, near to market, and pre-competitive research and development as part of the highly prestigious EUREKA cluster; Demonstrating and speaking at conferences, trade missions, and potential partners that a nation grounded in public healthcare can challenge traditional timelines, funding models, partnerships, and service delivery models to get faster, cheaper, and better outcomes, especially for under-served populations; Providing Canadian digital health solutions to companies with local distribution channels to support healthcare delivery in overseas hospitals (e.g., South Korea) and schools (e.g., United States) I will also bring the unique perspective of a small business owner who transformed our clinical services company into a Canadian technology company. Where others see closed doors, I see multiple pathways for growth. Where others see unsurmountable obstacles and competitive threats, I see the value of partnerships. My teams have lived the path of innovation, demonstrated outcomes, and are in the midst of commercialization. I believe that our story, fortitude, and ability to get unprecedented outcomes have given me a unique perspective to support Digital Health Canada to achieve the same.
Do you or have or have you ever had any direct patient care experience (clinical)?
Absolutely! I am celebrating my 20th year as a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist. I have provided speech & language services directly to children and families since 1999. In 2006, I created an integrated health services company, where I provided my services, along with other allied health professionals, directly to children and families living with disabilities and severe complex needs. The company, Kids Uncomplicated, has now expanded into The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group and includes, Teleroo™, a low-cost, video-based collaboration software. Even as I lead The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group, I continue to stand in and serve families when it helps my teams manage their workloads. I believe in a workplace where all participants stand together, with leaders that can understand and integrate all facets of their business. It’s important for me to stay grounded in the clinical supports needed to improve quality of life for children with disabilities and their families.
What segments within the Digital Health Canada community do you feel you will best represent?
Executives/CIOs; Emerging Professionals; Telehealth; Clinicians; Vendors; Leaders; Academic & Research; Healthcare Institutions; Digital Health Entrepreneurs
With which Digital Health Canada committees, task groups or activities have you volunteered in past five years?
As a new member of the Digital Health Canada family, I haven’t yet volunteered as part of committees, task groups, or activities. (I only recently learned about Digital Health Canada). However, the reason that I am applying to be part of the Board of Directors is that I see 100 percent alignment between the work that I have been doing with The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group and the mandate and goals of Digital Health Canada. I have strengths as a catalyst, connector, achiever, network builder, and change management specialist. I am the CEO and Founder of a combined services and technology company that has a values-based culture; a mission focused on enhancing Canada’s reputation as a digital health leader; and experience bringing new ways of working, thinking, and partnering into our clinical practice.
What other board appointments or relevant leadership experiences have you had in the past five years?
My predominant focus has been on building Canada’s foremost disability services company. In this role, I am leading: A team of more than 35 Allied Health professionals (OTs, PTs, SLPS, Psychologists etc); Canada’s first EUREKA cluster project, involving more than 9 partners in 5 countries across three continents ; The Panacea Gaming Platform, an international consortium of game developers, researchers and clinicians from Canada, Belgium, Turkey, South Korea and Slovenia working to develop digital health tools to help people with cognitive disabilities; The creation of Canada’s first digital health disability services advisory board.
Please tell us why you feel Digital Health Canada members should vote for you.
Six years ago, I had a vision of how to inform Canada’s approach to providing disability services. My ideas were grounded in social innovation and noble intentions, but I did not know how to bring them to life. Similarly, when speaking with entrepreneurs, researchers, clinical experts, and community activators, I hear a lot of really amazing ideas that are coupled with heart and spirit. There are so many people that are passionate about getting better health outcomes for Canadians. However, many ideas fade away because many don’t know how to bring them from the incubator out into the world. There are many challenges to overcome. Some of the challenges we have experienced are in understanding clinical science, the regulatory environments, the politics, the funding models, the path to innovation, the markets and technology commercialization, to name a few. When I read about Digital Health Canada’s origins, it clicked for me: Our teams have survived on our own and also thrived in partnership with other digital health visionaries and supporters. We are all working on fledgling ideas with huge potential, and our success stories are born out of exploration, sharing emerging best practices, and enabling others to put our ideas, services, and products to use. I want to help shape, support, and advance our joint initiatives, and hope to help see Canada overcome some of our natural limitations (e.g., geography, distance, infrastructure, availability of specialists) while bolstering our current strengths and resources.
Do you currently hold the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems – Canada (CPHIMS-CA) credential?
No. Committed to achieving my CPHIMS-CA.
I am a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist and social entrepreneur. My formal degrees include: • Bachelor of Arts with Distinction, including a major in linguistics and a minor psychology, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta • Master of Arts, Communication Sciences, from Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. • Provisional PhD Candidate, Rehabilitation Medicine, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta I have also received accolades and positive recognition for my entrepreneurial spirit and success, including: • Canadian Delegate and Subject Matter Expert, supported by the National Research Council of Canada-IRAP program and Global Affairs Canada (2018) • Alberta Business Awards of Distinction: Women Entrepreneur Award of Distinction (2017) • Ernst and Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Prairie Provinces Award (2016) • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs’ Upsurge Award (2015) • Canadian Delegate and Subject Matter Expert for Software Innovation (Belgium) (2015) • Alberta Export Award Nominee: Emerging Exporter and Leadership (2015) • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs: Icon of Alberta (2015) • Celebration of Achievement Award Nominee: Recognizing Entrepreneurial Excellence (2014) I am a member in good standing with: • Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs • Entrepreneur’s Organization (Invitation only organization)
Robyn Henderson is a digital health entrepreneur with the vision, expertise, and proprietary technology to enhance quality of life for the more than one billion people affected by disabilities worldwide. Working at the intersections of clinical expertise, capacity-building, and technology, Robyn has reshaped local and global disability support services with Teleroo™, a low-cost, video-based collaboration software. As the CEO/Founder of The Uncomplicated Family corporate group, her current foci are: • Expanding clinicians’ use of Teleroo™ through video modelling and virtual reality training modules, and, • Supporting governments around the world with a fiscally responsible and clinically validated platform to meet the needs of children, families, and clinical communities in rural and isolated areas. Robyn’s combined emphasis on building long-term relationships, providing leadership support and removing all barriers to access, has positioned TUF as both a home-grown Albertan and international leader in getting the best outcomes for communities in need. Robyn is a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist and, above all else in her career, an entrepreneur with a commitment to serving children and families. Robyn lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband, Brandon Woods. Together, they are co-parents to five amazing young people.