0138 Investing in coders: The impact of coding across the hospital


Sponsored by Semantic Health The president at HIMSS Ontario, CMIO at SickKids, and CIO at Humber River will join Semantic Health to discuss the impact of coding across the hospital and the benefit of investing in coders’ tools. Speakers: Darren Larsen, MD, CCFP, MPL, President, HIMSS Ontario & Karim Jessa, MD, FRCPC, CMIO, SickKids & Peter Bak, Ph.D., CIO, Humber River Hospital & Nicola Sahar, MD, CEO, Semantic Health Sponsored by Semantic Health

Medical coding is the backbone of health provider operations. In this session, Darren Larsen, president of HIMSS Ontario, Karim Jessa, CMIO at SickKids, and Peter Bak, CIO at Humber River Hospital, will join Nicola Sahar, CEO at Semantic Health, to discuss the impact of medical coding across innovation, finance, medicine, and health information management departments. They will also discuss how investing in better tools for coders could drive hospital-wide operational efficiency gains.

Join us to learn how to:

  1. Assess the role of coding in hospital and health system operations in Canada
  2. Identify how medical coding is used to shape leadership decisions in medicine, health information management, finance, and innovation departments at hospitals
  3. Evaluate the benefit of investing in medical coders’ tools to deliver long-term benefits across hospital functions
  4. Shape the future of health information management at your organization


Darren Larsen, MD, CCFP, MPL Over his 28 years as a comprehensive care family physician, Darren has been involved in many provincial and national health IT, quality, and physician leadership initiatives in Canada. He has contributed to multiple digital health, primary care, and quality commissions for the Ontario Ministry of Health, Ontario Health (Quality, Digital Services and Cancer Care) as well as the Ontario and Canadian medical associations. He is chair of the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario, board director for the federal agency Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, and is a senior fellow at WIHV (Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care). His digital health interests include data analytics, measurement for quality improvement and accountability, physician change and issues of scale and spread. With this interest, he is also the president of the HIMSS Ontario Chapter and a member of the HIMSS Global Public Policy Committee.

Darren obtained his bachelor of science at the University of Alberta, medical doctorate at the University of Calgary, did residency at the University of Ottawa and holds a master’s certificate in physician leadership from York University’s Schulich School of Executive Management. He is currently the senior advisory for Canadian healthcare at Accenture, practices at Women’s College Hospital, and teaches at the University of Toronto in the Department of Family and Community Medicine as well as the Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation.

Karim Jessa, MD, FRCPC, CMIO Karim Jessa MD, FRCPC, is the chief medical information officer (CMIO) at Sickkids and staff emergency physician at North York General Hospital and Sickkids. He completed medical school in Toronto, his emergency residency at McGill University, and then practiced in the Middle East for a number of years. His interests include the use of technology to improve health care and how electronic health records can be optimized for the benefit of providers and patients.

Peter Bak, Ph.D., CIO Peter Bak is the chief information officer (CIO) at Humber River Hospital. He is responsible for the implementation of the digital vision and ongoing operations of that vision. With over 25 years of experience in health care software development, product commercialization, consulting and executive leadership, Peter has extensive expertise in diagnostic imaging, electronic health records, health record sharing and collaboration, and hospital IT. Peter has a Ph.D. in applied engineering.

Nicola Sahar, MD, CEO Nicola Sahar, MD, is the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at Semantic Health. He leads a team of experienced medical coders, engineers, and machine learning researchers in transforming medical coding and auditing with machine learning. Before starting Semantic Health, Nicola was a clinical natural language processing (NLP) researcher at the University of Toronto and a consultant at Bain & Company in their health care practice. He is passionate about making health data more actionable so that providers can improve the quality and cost of health care.