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National #hcsmca Symposium Lands Out West: Why Vancouver?

January 20, 2016
city scape of Vancouver

Photo credit: Michelle Preston, BC Patient Safety Learning System

By Robyn Sussel, Signals.ca and Evening Rounds

headshot Robyn Sussel

Robyn Sussel

Why is the first national symposium of the #hcsmca community being held in Vancouver?

#hcsmca was founded in Toronto by Colleen Young, making Toronto its birth place. However uptake quickly spread and active #hcmsca members came from across Canada, even open to input in French due to the many bilingual participants involved.

So why Vancouver?

One of the many great strengths of #hcsmca is its diversity and also openness to experiences beyond Toronto — including tweet chats on telehealth and e-health for rural settings and how social media communities can support people who have poor access to a family doctor, to name just a couple. In fact, when looking back through the list of topics over the five year life of #hcsmca, most of them are universal to Canadian patients, health providers and health communicators —  and not at all Toronto-centric!

So it was no surprise to me when I floated the idea of holding a national conference in somewhere other than Toronto that Colleen and others in the community jumped at the opportunity. They felt that holding the meeting in Vancouver actually demonstrated the strength of the connections we have formed through our virtual community — and could also afford people in Western Canada an extra opportunity to attend such a watershed event.

Our organizing committee has a strong contingent from Vancouver but we are from across Canada. In addition to myself, the organizers are: Marina Bastawrous, Toronto; Janelle Chung, Vancouver; Colin Hung, Toronto;  Isabel Jordan, Squamish BC; Lori Last, Vancouver; Leah Lockhart, Vancouver; Trish Paton, Edmonton; Pat Rich, Ottawa; Kevin Smith, Vancouver; and Colleen Young, Toronto.

Another reason why Vancouver is a logical location, is that here in Vancouver we pioneered an in-person “off-shoot” of #hcsmca that we called “Evening Rounds.” Evening Rounds was created three years ago after several successful “west coast” #hcsmca tweet ups. The people who gathered really wanted more opportunities to learn and share experiences in health care and digital technologies. Co-founded by Dan Hooker, Alissa Sadler, Sean Cranbury and myself, Evening Rounds was fashioned as a monthly speaker series and networking meeting with my firm (Signals) and Providence Health Care as co-sponsors. So we have a local active and engaged community that will play host to our colleagues from east of the Rockies! I encourage any Evening Rounds regulars to quickly get registered for the #hcsmca event!

And finally, the last and very important reason why Vancouver makes sense is that the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council stepped up to support a one day event in conjunction with their annual Quality Forum. The logistical support of this forward-thinking and digitally savvy group ensured that this dream  — cooked up by a few #hcsmca-ers scattered across Canada  — came to fruition. We are very grateful for their support.

I’m not even going to mention that Vancouver in February is probably the most pleasant spot in the country with all the snow safely ensconced in the mountains. And that’s because I’m going to write another blog post on all the wonderful things to do in and around the city towards the end of February.

While you’re making your travel plans, I would really encourage you to also attend the Quality Forum 2016. While some of the content and case studies are from BC, like #hcsmca, the topics are all very transferable and translatable across the Canadian health care landscape. Registration fees are very reasonable, and as an attendee from past QF’s I know you will learn a great deal.

If you haven’t yet registered for the #hcsmca symposium, please do so quickly as space is limited to just 150 people. You can also access discount room rates at the gorgeous Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

As the moderator of the day’s event, and an ambassador for Evening Rounds, I look forward to welcoming you to my city on February 24th.

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