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#hcsmca Symposium Program & Speakers

February 21, 2016

On Feb 24, 2016 in Vancouver, #hcsmca will host its first National Symposium.

Download the #hcsmca Symposium Program (PDF).


Robyn Sussel (Symposium Moderator), @robynsussel, Principal, Signals

headshot Robyn Sussel

Robyn has devoted her career to helping health and research organizations communicate their often hidden but compelling stories.

As one of two principals at digital firm,, Robyn leads the client services team and speaks regularly on the subject of health and research communications and knowledge translation as well as digital transformation and integrated communications strategy and planning.

In 2015 Robyn won the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Ripple Effect award for her contributions to health charities. In 2016, she was nominated for the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award in the Health and Wellness category, again for her contributions to health and human rights charities.

Pat Rich, @pat_healthSenior Medical Writer and Editor, Commentator on Canadian Health Care

HBrBen8WPat Rich is a veteran medical writer and editor and commentator on social media in the context of health care. He has been editor-in-chief of Canada’s only newpaper for physicians and recently parted ways with the Canadian Medical Association after serving for 14 years in a variety of senior communications positions including as publisher of the Canadian Medical Association Journal

Colleen Young, @colleen_youngFounder, #hcsmca, Online Community Director, Mayo Clinic Connect

Headshot Colleen YoungColleen Young (@colleen_young) is an internationally recognized expert in building online health communities that thrive. She is the Founder of Health Care Social Media Canada (#hcsmca) – an inclusive, cross-disciplinary community driving social collaboration for better health and health care. She is also the Community Director of Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community.

In 2012, Colleen was awarded the Journal of Medical Internet Research Award at the Medicine 2.0 Congress at Harvard University for her leadership in developing best practices for building online communities. She frequently speaks and writes about the impact of social web in health and health care, including presenting at Stanford Medicine X 2014 and 2015.

Kicking off the event is a powerhouse panel with Lee Aase, Larry Chu, Colin Hung and Isabel Jordan. Each of the panelists have built silo-busting communities in health. On Feb 24, we’ll bring them together on stage and learn more about their communities, the labours, trials, successes and how they are each making a difference in health care now and their plans for the future.


The Panelists

Lee Aase @LeeAaseDirector, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

Lee AaseLee Aase is the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, which provides training resources, educational and networking events and a collaboration platform for healthcare communications professionals and medical providers, as well as patients and caregivers who want to safely and effectively apply social and digital strategies to fight disease, promote health and improve health care.

By night, Lee is Chancellor of Social Media University, Global (SMUG), a free online higher education institution that provides practical, hands-on training in social media for lifelong learners. In 2013, he was inducted into the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame, and in 2014 he was appointed to a two-year term on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Media. He also was named to the list of “20 People Who Make Healthcare Better” by HealthLeaders Media.

Prior to joining Mayo Clinic in 2000, Lee spent more than a decade in political and government communications at the local, state and federal level.

Larry Chu, MD, MS @larrychuAssociate Professor of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine; Executive Director, Stanford Medicine X

Larry Chu-roundLarry Chu is a practicing anesthesiologist who runs the Anesthesia Informatics and Media (AIM) lab at Stanford University. He is an associate professor of anesthesia on the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Chu teaches three courses at Stanford University, Engage + Empower Me (a patient engagement design course) and Design for Health (applying design innovation to improve healthcare) and Medical Education in the New Millennium (challenges and opportunities for innovation and digital disruption). He collaborates with researchers in simulation and computer science at Stanford to study how cognitive aids can improve medical team performance in a crisis. Dr. Chu has received several NIH grants to study opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

Dr. Chu is also the Executive Director of Stanford Medicine X, a project of the Stanford AIM Lab. Medicine X is a catalyst for new ideas about the future of medicine and health care. The initiative explores how emerging technologies will advance the practice of medicine, improve health, and empower patients to be active participants in their own care. The “X” is meant to encourage thinking beyond numbers and trends—it represents the infinite possibilities for current and future information technologies to improve health.  

Colin Hung @Colin_HungDirector of Marketing, Stericycle Communication Solutions

Collin Hung-roundColin Hung leads the marketing efforts at Stericycle Communication Solutions, a division of Stericycle Inc that is dedicated to strengthening patient engagement through better communication. He is a true believer in healthcare technology and has been working for over 15 years at various #HealthIT companies.

In 2015, Colin was named one of the Top 20 HealthIT bloggers and one of the Top 100 healthcare Tweeters. He also served as a social media ambassador at the 2015 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference and 2015 Mayo Innovation Transform conference. Colin co-founded the Healthcare Leadership online community (#hcldr,, one of the most popular and active in healthcare.

Colin received an honours BA in Applied Science from the University of Waterloo and is a registered Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario. He speaks and writes regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. Sadly Colin still cheers for the Toronto Maple Leafs, his hometown team.

Isabel Jordan @seastarbatitaChair, Board of Directors, Rare Disease Foundation

Isabel JordanIsabel Jordan is Board Chair and one of the founding members of the Rare Disease Foundation. The Foundation funds care-focused research that is informed by the priorities of the rare disease community and connects families touched by rare disease. This creates a network of families, patients, health care providers, researchers and volunteers that together are working towards the same goal of making a better future for the rare disease community. Isabel is the facilitator for the Rare Disease Foundation’s Vancouver Parent 2 Parent Resource Network and helps to lead the growth of connected Resource Networks across Canada.

Thirteen years into the journey of parenting 2 children, one with a rare disease, has taught her many lessons – one of the biggest is that building community can provide care, support, resources and answers. Connecting with other parents and health care providers in the rare disease world has made her a strong proponent of patient advocacy and family- and patient-led care. These life lessons have ripples far beyond the rare disease community. Patient engagement and building community aren’t buzzwords, they are the pathway to creating a better health care system.

The stunning plenary panel is only one reason not to miss this event. Take a look at the exciting program outline, tapping in to our collective knowledge. We’ve designed a day to explore how digital communications impact quality of care, support patient-provider co-design, contribute to research and knowledge translation, and lead to interdisciplinary decision-making.

Join the #hcsmca Symposium Dine-Around Feb 23

February 21, 2016

By Kathy Kastner (@kathykastner)

Kathy Kastner-roundNo need to dine alone the eve before the #hcsmca Symposium.

I’ve had such fun at conferences when a pre-conference dine-around was arranged. So, I’m going with the Nike slogan “Just do it” and am coordinating one for the #hcsmca National Symposium.

How it works

Sign your name to the restaurant of your choice in this Google doc. The sign-up sheet also includes and addresses of each restaurant. They are all within walking distance of the conference hotel The Hyatt Regency 655 Burrard St, Vancouver.

Meet in hotel lobby at 5:45pm on Tuesday, February 23. (Eat time is 6pm to accommodate the Eastern time zone-ers.) We’ll head to our respective meet ‘n eats for a get-to-know you IRL (in real life).

Here’s the list of restaurants to choose from. No special menu just special people. In case it’s not obvious, you pay your own way.

Reservations are under my name – Kathy Kastner.

Sign-up here to join us. See you Tuesday!


How to Prepare for the Unconference Part of the #hcsmca Symposium

February 20, 2016

Are you ready for the National #hcsmca Symposium? What do you need to know? Start by reading How to Unconference #hcsmca Style.

Unconferences are events run by participants. Attendees submit topics, set the agenda, lead the sessions and create an environment of innovation and productive discussion.The unconference part of the day is divided into 4 parts (See the program):

  1. Building the Wall – Instructions & introducing the challenges & making new ones
  2. Discovering Solutions – Breakout sessions (50 min.)
  3. Consolidate & Formulate Your Ideas – Action plan (40 min)
  4. Solutions Exchange – Report back (2 minute presentations)

1. Building the Wall

This is where attendees set the agenda. On the wall there will be the 12 challenges that you submitted and voted for in the week leading up to the conference. There’s also room for more sessions. If there’s a burning question or challenge that you would like to lead, add a wildcard challenge on the day of the symposium. 

Principles of an unconference

  • If you submit a topic, you lead the discussion.
  • The people who show up to your session are the right people.
  • Whatever happens is what was meant to be.
  • The ideas put forward are the right ideas.

Law of two feet: Follow your interest. If you find yourself not learning or contributing at any time, move to a discussion where you can learn and contribute.

Once the sessions have been presented and wall is built, participants will go to their session locations.

2. Discovering Solutions

In this 50-minute session, the facilitator will

  • Ask you to introduce yourself with your name only
  • Elect a note take and timekeeper
  • Restate the session topic and what s/he hopes to get out of the session. Frame it in the form of a question to the group (1 minute)

Read more about facilitating an unconference session in this #hcsmca Symposium – Facilitator Quick Reference and 10 Tips for Unconference Facilitators.

The facilitator will keep the conversation moving and ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. Participants should “speak up and step back,” meaning share your idea and then let others speak. Be careful not to dominate the conversation.

Note taking is a key part of documenting the outputs of the symposium. If you’re elected to be the note taker, be creative. You can take notes on a flip chart, sticky notes or electronically in Google doc, Google Draw or other document-sharing application. Notes will be archived and shared publicly after the symposium.

Wrap up the session at 12:30. After lunch, you’ll return to your group to create the action plan.

3. The Action Plan

In this 40 minute session, your group will reconvene to set out a plan of action.

To help plan your next steps and prepare your report to present back to everyone, each group write a postcard to themselves. Imagine receiving this postcard sometime in the future (the group sets the date). Keep your action plan reasonable and doable.

  •  Where did we start?  (Describe the world as it is today)
  •  Where are we now? (Describe what it will be in the future.)
  •  How did we get here? (What happened? What steps did you take to get to the future state?
  •  Who led this effort? (What group/person/network led the charge?)

See this sample postcard to the future from an event from 2014.

Sample-Postcard to the future

Thank to Marlies van Dijk, RN, MSc to this sample and her unconference wisdom.

Choose a person from your group to report your action plan back to all the symposium attendees.

4. Solutions Exchange

With everyone back in the main room, each group has 2 minutes to present their action plan.

As Pat Rich said, this is #hcsmca’s not so hidden agenda. These action plans will usher #hcsmca into it’s next phase of social collaboration and innovation.

For the final word, Kathy Kastner shares what to expect at an unconference in 3 Cs.



10 Tips for Unconference Facilitators

February 20, 2016

Developed with Pam Ressler (@pamressler)

  1. Give a brief outline with the purpose and timeline of the session.
  2. State ground rules, establishing your role as facilitator and that you may need to redirect the conversation to keep the session on target.
  3. Frame the topic both verbally and visually in design mode thinking: “How might we…?”
  4. Don’t try to be both facilitator and scribe. Elect a note taker.
  5. Gently but firmly acknowledge the opinion of people who tend to dominate and then ask others to weigh in.
  6. Directly invite quieter members of the group to share their thoughts. Ask an open-ended question.
  7. Leave enough time for wrap up.
  8. Invite the group to identify key takeaways.
  9. Summarize the group learning and identify key themes, ideas, action items.
  10. Have fun!

Also see this #hcsmca Symposium – Facilitator Quick Reference (PDF), adapted from unconference wisdom shared with me by Marlies van Dijk, RN, MSc. Thank you Marlies.

Read more about #hcsmca’s Symposium


Additional resources for Facilitators:

#hcsmca: The Not so Hidden Agenda

February 16, 2016

By Pat Rich (@pat_health)

Let’s make sure something tangible comes out of this.

pat_richThis has been the mantra for the organizers of the upcoming #hcsmca Symposium since the very start of the planning process.

Throughout its long and illustrious (for social media) history, the #hcsmca community has always been a cosmopolitan and welcoming place for anyone interested in health care issues and social media to participate and exchange ideas, learn and debate. Through the weekly tweetchats (252) and occasional meetups (9) a huge number of topics, both topical and more philosophical have been brought into the light and talked about to the benefit of all.

But there has always been an underlying sense – voiced most recently during the strategic renewal process of #hcsmca – that more could and should be done to ensure all of this community-building leads to initiatives that make a difference in how people provide and experience health care in Canada.

So when work began on planning next week’s #hcsmca Symposium in Vancouver one of the core concepts was that the symposium should not just be a IRL version of a well-attended tweetchat but also a fulcrum for using the crowd-sourced power of the #hcsmca community to produce lasting legacies.

This is why you have seen much effort over the last several weeks to generate ideas that will be discussed in an unconference format during the symposium and produce tangible products, tactics and messaging that will actually be used when the meeting is over.

In the true #hcsmca community spirit, the scope of the general concepts to be discussed hcsmCA_final_logo-high reswas set in an earlier tweetchat which is why you see digital health and patient/provider engagement being represented so prominently in the challenges that will be tackled at the meeting.

And while for logistical reasons those who are bringing the challenges forward must be present at the symposium, we are ensuring the #hcsmca community as a whole has an opportunity to weigh in on them first (Vote for your favorite #hcsmca Symposium Challenges).

#Hcsmca will be transformed following the Vancouver symposium as volunteer Founder Colleen Young moves on to delegate the majority of her time to other activities.

To quote one of my favourite singers when it comes to this particular phase of the history of #hcsmca –

And I want to know
The same thing
Everyone wants to know
How’s it going to end?    ~Tom Waits

As organizers of the meeting, we can assure this particular symposium will end, not just with the sense of a day well spent with colleagues and new friends, but with a determined approach to provide real solutions to real problems.

headshot Robyn Sussel

Robyn Sussel (@robynsussel) will moderate this week’s #hcsmca on Wednesday, February 17 at 1pm ET (time zone converterto explore these important questions.

Q’s regarding upcoming symposium in Vancouver

  • T1. What do you need to know about an unconference format in order to actively participate either in person or remotely?
  • T2. If you can’t be at the Symposium, how would you like to virtually interact with those in Vancouver before, during and after?
  • T3. Do you agree that conferences MUST have a definable outcome to be deemed a success?

Q’s about the future of #hcsmca and our community

  • T4. Do all online communities naturally come to an end? Should they?
  • T5. Without a weekly chat, how can the #hcsmca community across Canada stay connected?
  • T6. Is there a group in Canada emerging as the obvious home of health care and social media learning (e.g. Mayo Clinic in US)

Have you registered for the symposium? Only a few seats left.


Vote for your favorite #hcsmca Symposium Challenges

February 14, 2016

hcsmca challenges

Sixteen Challenges made the first cut. Which 12 should we problem-solve at the National #hcsmca Symposium on Feb. 24? Vote for your favorite challenges. Add comments and tells us what you like or what improvements could be made to any of the challenges. Be sure to label which challenge you’re referring to by mentioning its number and title.

Here are the challenge finalists. Jump to read more or simply scroll through all 16.

Challenge #1:

Reaching for Impact

Submitted by: @DrCChambers, @JCollinsLam with @hwitteman & Gayle Scarrow

drcchambers jcollinslamThe analytic output from social media is impressive especially for health researchers and healthcare organizations including funders…but is there evidence that reaching people over social media can improve health? That is, can we measure changes in people’s attitudes, practices and/or informed policy decisions based on the evidence being disseminated? A social media campaign by researchers to impact children’s pain management and KT activities facilitated by a health research funder will be used to examine this question from two different contexts.

Symposium goal: Produce a list of relevant, feasible, readily gathered indicators related to IMPACT (rather than outputs and outcomes) and a way to collect them for use by healthcare-related organizations and researchers.

Dalhousie University/IWK Health Centre & Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research


Challenge #2:

Healthcare Communication Scorecard

Submitted by: @colin_hung

Colin HungA key ingredient in a positive patient experience is communication. Yet there is no consistent and empirical way to measure how well healthcare organization communicates with its patients. Without a standardized metric there is little incentive for improvement. What ideas do you have to track an organization’s effectiveness over phone, text and email as well as through new channels like social media? Let’s create a communication scorecard together.

Symposium goal: A scorecard and accompanying set of metrics to determine how effective a healthcare organization is at communicating with patients – using traditional as well as new channels like social media.



Challenge #3:

How might we bring parents’ parenting expertise into our pediatric and teen practice … online?

Submitted by: @drpauldempsey
Dr Paul DempseyAt least 100 families gather weekly at @QuintePediatric (QPAM). In our waiting room & hallways, we see parents connecting & exchanging health & parenting experiences. We’ve also collected expertise from caregivers through our online sm platforms. Analytics indicate the most engaging topics for which we create & share relevant content We want to encourage our QPAM community to expand the depth & reach of their expertise, with relevant supportive resources, into a meaningful online environment.

Symposium goal: Our challenge is to develop a ready-to-go toolbox to encourage sharing of the in-the-trenches expertise of our parents with each other. How can we unleash and encourage sharing of the expertise among us as parents, caregivers, family and friends?

Quinte Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine


Challenge #4:

Are we ensuring privacy at the risk of providing good clinical care?

Submitted by: @CHS_SFU Scott Lear

scott_learEnsuring patient privacy is a crucial consideration when providing care. The privacy lens has been more focused on the use of ubiquitous technologies than ever in the past. Is there a downside to this? Does this limit the provision of optimal care and the conduct of research that leads to ground-breaking care solutions? Have the end-user voices been heard in this discussion? These questions will be discussed in a candid manner in which we learn from others’ experiences.

Symposium goal: To identify a set of guiding principles to ensure that we can provide timely and optimal care while respect user privacy.

Simon Fraser University, Community Health Solutions

Challenge #5:

How will #hcsmca documented, remembered and archived?

Submitted by: @colleen_young

Headshot Colleen YoungWithout a doubt #hcsmca has had tremendous impact on health care communications in Canada and beyond. Over the past 5 and half years we’ve held more than 250 chats hosted by 80 moderators with more than 19,000 members. There have been 9 formal in person meetups as well as several impromptu meetups across the country. Out of these countless connections have been made. Projects, plans, emerging practices and friendships have been built as a result. How will #hcsmca’s impact be documented? What can we archive? What can we measure? How will it be remembered?

Symposium goal: Develop a list of the various ways #hcsmca’s outputs and impact can be documented, remembered and archived? Create a plan to make it happen.

Challenge #6:

More Isn’t Always Better: How to Engage the Public in the Choosing Wisely Canada Campaign

Submitted by: @bornk

Karen Born30% of health care is unnecessary. CWC is a campaign to raise awareness about this and has gained traction amongst physicians. However, raising public awareness is crucial to drive changes to physician practice, patient behavior and public expectations. CWC has patient education materials and a new website that share campaign content in plain language – how can we leverage online conversations and information seeking about health to promote the message that ‘More is Not Always Better’?

Symposium goal: Strategies to shift public conversations online about health towards more is not always better.A concrete plan for how and where to insert this counterintuitive message into conversations about health online to shift attitudes and change behavior.

Choosing Wisely Canada

Challenge #7:

Using social media to advocate for policy change

Submitted by: @DebMaskensKCC @CanCertainty

Deb MaskensPatient advocates use social media for a variety of purposes. One core purpose is to advocate for health policy change. How can we use social media to increase our reach and engagement with key constituencies? (The public, patients, decision-makers, influencers?) What is the measure of a good advocacy campaign on social media? The campaign I would describe is the @CanCertainty Campaign that I have been co-leading for 2 years. Social media has been keen for awareness, but results?

Symposium goal: To identify a set of strategies and tactics that reach key influencers and result in health policy change. Secondly, to develop metrics that help to determine the ongoing effectiveness of an advocacy campaign conducted using social media.

CanCertainty Campaign

Challenge #8:

Get Out, Get Active with PCNs (GOGA)

Submitted by: @TamaraVineberg and @GOGAwithPCNs

Tamara VinebergApproximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity. Primary Care Networks in the Edmonton-area have organized Get Out, Get Active (GOGA), a six-week physical activity challenge, and are looking to increase participation and engagement among physicians, patients and the general public. How can social media make this physical activity challenge stand out from the other fitness challenges? How can social media increase the awareness of GOGA, make this program unique and keep participants motivated to complete the challenge?

Symposium goal: The goal would be to develop a social media strategy for GOGA and to explore how to measure the reach and impact of the social media campaign.

Get Out, Get Active with Primary Care Networks

Challenge #9:

Getting more Canadian health care providers to use social media professionally

Submitted by: @pat_health

pat_richUse of social media to improve health care delivery and the patient experience remains marginal in Canada. Strategies are needed to increase number of providers using social media professionally.

Symposium goal: A set of tactics to improve health care provider social media usage


Challenge #10:

Reaching and engaging busy clinicians and physicians in particular

Submitted by: @margot_white

Margot WhiteToday’s clinicians are busier than ever, yet technology offers us more options to connect. What digital strategies and tactics have participants found to be most successful in reaching and engaging these professionals? F-2-F is great, but is not always an option. What’s new? What are other juridictions/organizations doing that are considered best practices in health care digicomms? Share what’s worked. And what hasn’t.

Symposium goal: New ideas and insights

Challenge #11: merged

Listen effectively

Submitted by: @Sara_Shear

Sara Shearkhani

Currently the burden of effectively sharing an experience and being understood is on patients. Patients are sometimes labeled as “difficult” and denied a seat at advisory councils. Social media have given voice to patients and they have become citizen journalists. Can social media be used to partially shift this burden of patients to healthcare professionals encouraging them to develop effective listening skills mapping through angry stories? And how? Could be this a solution for diversity issues at advisory councils? What are other advantages or disadvantages?

Symposium goal: To see whether patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals find this point valid and to come up with strategies to address it

Challenge #12:

Patient Engagement Network – the place to connect, learn, give and get support

Submitted by: Cecilia Bloxom & Abisaac Saraga @Patient_Safety

Canadian Patient Safety InstituteIn this context, people includes everyone working on patient engagement: patients, families, patient groups as well as providers, managers, leaders, organizations at all system levels. Scope: broad patient and citizen engagement in all dimensions of quality.

Symposium goal: 1) Patient engagement in Canada increases at all system levels,  2) Alignment and/or collaboration for patient engagement programs, policies, strategies increases, and 3) The network members use the network to advance patient engagement and system improvement

Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Challenge #x: Withdrawn

What role do consumer health applications have in our health care system?

Submitted by: @CHS_SFU Scott Lear

Simon Fraser University logoThe past decade has been witness to an explosion of consumer health applications. Many of these are marketed to improve one or more aspect of a person’s health. Far too many have not been evaluated to justify their marketing or promised outcome. Yet our health care system cannot ignore their presence or the potential of these applications to assist our patients. Is there a role for these applications to work alongside with our delivery of health care?

Symposium goal: To identify the possible concerns and advantages of existing and future privately designed consumer health applications in health care provision.

Simon Fraser University, Community Health Solutions

Challenge #x: withdrawn

Getting Communities on the Bus!

Submitted by: @Kathykm and and Jordan MacGregor

Kathy Kortes-MillerCompassionate Communities (CC) models are critical to normalizing the experiences and needs of citizens and upholds the principle that palliative care is everyone’s business. Communities must be engaged for the CC model to work. As an NPO, the reach and economic benefits of social media make it appealing, but is it an appropriate tool for CC? If yes, which platforms are best for connecting with hidden communities? How do you build a community on a topic that society isn’t comfortable discussing?

Symposium goal: Pallium aims to define the role of social media in CC initiatives and develop a strategic social media toolkit to strengthen and widen our ability to engage with segmented social groups. Toolkit needs to consider return on investment of platforms.

Pallium Canada

Challenge #x: Merged with 11

Citizen Journalists and Social Media

Submitted by: Cecilia Bloxom @Patient_Safety

Canadian Patient Safety InstituteRight or wrong, people are using social media to tell their story. Maybe there are ways for organizations to handle this when it arises? The other piece is that with phones everyone has the ability to photograph or record everything they see, especially in hospitals or other care settings. Many news stories about patient safety issues feature photos or video provided by patients.

Symposium goal: Vigorous discussion and debate

Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Challenge #x: merged with 9

Engaging staff members in Social Media

Submitted by: Abisaac Saraga @Patient_Safety

Canadian Patient Safety InstituteMotivating and encouraging staff members to utilize this powerful tool effectively.

Symposium goal: Creative strategies for success


Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Moving forward with EMRs

February 5, 2016

By Dr. Darren Larsen (@larsendarren)

dr-darren-150px-X-150pxWe have come a long way in Canada in getting physicians to adopt digital records systems in the form of office-based electronic medical records (EMRs). In Ontario alone, over 11,600 physicians (both family doctors and specialists) have EMRs in their practices and are using them with varying levels of sophistication. For many of us physicians, the EMR is our lifeline to our patients. It is the environment in which we spend almost all of our day, recording the patient story, reading and thinking about test results and communicating with our peers externally through the creation of referrals, and internally with messaging systems.

Some clinics are starting to push the boundaries of basic use, though, and this is where the power of digital records systems becomes apparent. This is not easy work. The thinking required to move to mature EMR use takes reflection and solid dedicated effort on behalf of physicians, nurses and the staff they employ and is often done off the side of the desk. Advancing to the mature use of EMR presents change management challenges, changing the way we work. How do we convince medical personnel of the benefit of moving forward? How do we make the work palatable in the face of all the other demands facing them every day from the clinical, business and system perspective? How do we do all of this in an already strained system with fewer and fewer payments for participation?

There is a tendency to look to our American neighbours in their advancement of EMR maturity, but models there have been built on massive incentive payments without necessarily a view to how the change can be sustained.

On February 10 at 1pm ET (time zone converter), @OntarioEMRs is hosting the #hcsmca tweetchat to explore barriers and opportunities in the advancement EMR as it applies to both primary care and specialist care. We are posing four big questions to advance the conversation and gather great ideas with the #hcsmca community to help promote change.

  • T1: How do you use EMRs now? What do you value in them? As a health professional, patient, researcher, etc.
  • T2: What would the EMR of 2030 look like? Where do we need to get to?
  • T3: What could/should be done w/ the vast data in EMR systems to improve patient care, relationships & the healthcare system?
  • T4: How to move forward/promote the advanced adoption and use of mature EMR systems?
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