By: Enza Di Pasquale, CHIM
When the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Canada Health Infoway Partnership series presented itself this year, I registered without hesitation and have already attended two of the six-monthly installments, hosted virtually, in May and June. Each session in the series tackles a theme dedicated to digital health, and all information is provided by industry leaders about not only the current state of digital health but where it’s headed.
These monthly sessions will be held through October 2021, with the conference portion scheduled for December 1, as part of Digital Health Week (November 29-December 5, 2021). I encourage CHIMA members to register for the remaining sessions and to stay informed about the great work that Canada Health Infoway is doing.
I attended this series with a unique perspective as a Patient Partner volunteer with London Health Sciences (I help provide patient perspective when it comes to health care and services planning, development implementation, and evaluation of policies and programs). I’m also a health information management (HIM) professional, certified in 2020. It was attending June’s session, “Improving Patient/Caregiver Digital Health Literacy” that really inspired me: it warms the heart to see that the patient viewpoint is being considered seriously as the health care system becomes more digitized. In fact, Patient Partners from across the country are invited to each of Infoway’s sessions; there is an ongoing callout for participation in surveys; and we are regularly encouraged to take advantage of networking opportunities—all in the service of ensuring the patient voice is heard.
In working toward the delivery of virtual health care and digitizing health information, the needs of patients, and their privacy and dignity, must be protected at every stage along the way. And at the heart of all of this is the health information professional. Infoway’s sessions helped me realize how defining virtual care and digital health is imperative to achieving consensus across the health care system. Also key: understanding the technologies available and forging collaborative partnerships to capitalize on opportunities in streamlining the patient journey.
The current gaps in documentation of proper diagnosis, treatment notes, prescriptions, and patient and circle-of-care accessibility are evident. And the importance of proper health documentation is not only a matter of efficiency but also one of safety. Even more pressing, is the need to ensure that information is accessible to health care providers. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how virtual care can allow for continuity of care when in-person visits are not permitted. The urgent need to problem-solve during this pandemic, the availability of useful technologies, and the willingness of patients to adapt to these changes have translated into health care being delivered differently than it has ever been delivered before. Virtual-care platforms existed before the pandemic struck, but with the advent of COVID-19 suddenly those platforms became the only way to access health care services—and according to some reports, Canadians say they like receiving their health care virtually.
The adaptability to recent changes in health care delivery could transform into a call from Canada’s citizens for more virtual care, which could then persuade governments to invest in supporting more of these digital improvements. Ultimately, it is Canadians themselves who stand to benefit the most from this investment in the health care system.
Another compelling element of Canada Health Infoway’s approach is the attention of managing this digital evolution within the health care system. Data management is such an important element of the digital health ecosystem and new enough that its complexities cannot yet be fully appreciated. One of the series speakers I heard, Louise Agersnap, Head of Innovation for the World Health Organization (WHO), delivered a very inspiring presentation on the importance of scaling up innovation in health, worldwide, in an effort to achieve health equity. After her presentation, she addressed a question that was submitted with regards to the hesitancy to engage in innovation. She replied that the mindset needs to shift to allow for innovation to thrive—“engage the unknown,” she said. This was an inspiring way to end the series and applies to the innovative work that Infoway is doing in helping define and move everyone toward a common—digital—objective.
I’ve truly enjoyed my participation in this series so far and look forward to the next few months of thought-provoking and inspiring information. The icing on the cake is that as a certified HIM professional, my participation in the Virtual Infoway Partnership Series earns me CPE credits. I see that as validation of the importance of the health information profession, and further indication that our contributions add value.
More information regarding the series can be found here: infoway-inforoute.ca/en/what-we-do/infoway-partnership-conference/registration
More information regarding the Canadian College of Health Information Management’s continuing professional education program can be found here: cchim.ca/continuing-professional-education-program/
View all upcoming events here: https://www.echima.ca/upcoming-events/