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Problem-solving with the #hcsmca community:

January 30, 2012

by: Jeremy Petch & Karen Born is delighted to be participating in this week’s #hcsmca chat. February marks one year since launched, and the website is now in a phase of looking back to evaluate our challenges and our successes and planning for the future. We are looking forward to drawing on the collective insight of the #hcsmca to provide some problem solving, ideas and suggestions on questions we’ve been grappling with. But first, a little background on what is all about. offers the public unbiased, evidence-based analysis on a range of topics in healthcare policy in Ontarioand Canada. Our content is intended to be clear, written in plain language and accessible to many audiences. Our team is composed of experts in medicine and health policy, but our audience is not academic – our goal is to reach the public and healthcare professionals, who don’t currently have a source of high quality of information about the healthcare system and health policy. But we want to do more than just inform – we want to engage the public in a debate about ideas and opportunities to improve the health system. We want to provide a forum where people can learn, deliberate, debate and dialogue on what matters to them – in fact, the site was inspired by the Toronto Health Policy Citizen’s Council, and is an effort to scale up this process.

Infographic for HealthyDebate.caThe site launched in February of 2011 with six articles. Since then has run one article a week on topics ranging from Ontario’s new strategy on prescription opioids to what are the main cost drivers of health care in Canada. In January 2012 we launched the Opinions section, with blogs from a range of contributors including former politicians, nurses, medical students, doctors and patient advocates. Our contributors include a number of members from the #hcsmca community: @rdjfraser @BridgesCHCLori and @NaheedD. has never had an advertising budget. Since the site launched, we have shared the site through our personal networks, social media and word of mouth. We rely on recommendations, sharing links and key influencers to bring more readers to This has gotten us a loyal following of health care and health policy insiders, but we have yet to catch on with our main target audience: the public.

On Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012 at 1 pm ET, we’d like to take the opportunity to explore two big issues with the #hcsmca community:

  • T1: How can we increase our reach? How can we tap into new audiences? How can we engage those audiences to encourage them to join the discussion? How can we encourage our current audience to participate more actively in the discussion?
  • T2: How can we measure our impact? Google Analytics tells us how many visits we get a month, but it can’t tell us much about whether we’re meeting our goal of improving the public’s health policy literacy. How can we tell if we’re making a difference?
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