box10.gif (1299 bytes)








Health IT achievers honoured at Toronto gala

TORONTO – COACH is pleased to announce the 2007 Award winners and Steven Huesing Scholarship recipient. The awards were presented at the Canadian Health Informatics Awards Gala at the elegant Arcadian Court in downtown Toronto on November 15. The categories included Lifetime Achievement; Leadership; Innovation; Community-based Physician Innovation; the Steven Huesing Scholarship; and the Emerging Leader in Healthcare Informatics.

The winners:

The Emerging Leader in Health Informatics Award
Presented by the Courtyard Group

Awarded to: Individuals in the first five years of their health informatics career who have demonstrated leadership and early success in the field.

Awarded to: Dr. Chris O’ Connor, Intensivist and Director of Medical Informatics, Trillium Health Centre, Mississauga, Ont. (Pictured is Dr. O’Connor with Trillium Health Centre President & CEO, Janet Davidson, O.C.)

Dr. Chris O’Connor has demonstrated outstanding leadership by helping physicians and clinicians move forward on the e-Health journey with the development of a new wireless protocol. This enabled staff and patients at Trillium Health Centre to use cellular communication devices in the hospital. He then created the Blackberry Innovation Project, which substantially changed workflow with corresponding benefits in patient care.

Dr. O’Connor also acted as the “thought leader” and project steward for the Order Set Transformation project at Trillium. This enterprise provided tremendous clinical and patient safety benefits while preparing the clinic for the Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) project.

A host of other hospitals have implemented this same change with the support of Dr. O’Connor and his team. With experience in Emergency, Critical Care and Internal Medicine, and equipped with formal studies in Biomedical Informatics, Dr. O’Connor has been an advocate and a champion for moving the health informatics agenda ahead, not only at his home base, but across Canada.

Lifetime Achievement

A special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to COACH Founding President Steven Huesing. Steven, the editor/publisher of COACH’s official journal, Healthcare Information Management & Communications Canada, has shaped the profession for more than three decades.

Leadership in the Field of Health Informatics Award

Awarded for: Outstanding, ongoing contributions by an individual, with leadership recognized within his/her jurisdiction or more broadly.

Awarded to: Jean Huot, CIO, Montreal University Health Centre and McGill University Health Centre.

Jean Huot is recognized as one of the leading CIOs and healthcare executives in the province of Quebec. A visionary in the field of healthcare informatics, Mr. Huot is respected by his peers for his solid leadership, credibility and discipline of “getting things done.”

His career in the healthcare sector began in 1992, when he created the Healthcare Directorate, positioning his employer, CGI, as a key IT service provider in both Quebec and Canada. In 1998, he was appointed CIO of the McGill University Health Centre. A year later, the Montreal Health Region requested his contribution to implement and co-supervise operations of the Technocentre of Montreal, a data centre and service provider for all 140 health and social services organizations within the Montreal region. In 2002, he was also appointed CIO of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), a “first” among previously competing major teaching hospitals. From that point on, Mr. Huot had an uncanny ability to fulfill his roles and responsibilities as CIO of both major university hospitals while supervising activities at the Technocentre of Montreal.

He is currently leading, with an estimated $200 million budget, the modernization of the information technology infrastructure of the largest university hospitals in Quebec, within the context of their construction of new ultra-modern installations. Despite the different management styles of both organizations, he has demonstrated the effectiveness of his guidance across a variety of audiences and received broad acceptance of his vision for integrated clinical information applications and tools empowering care providers and benefiting a community of over 3 million.

The concept of a unified CIS handling most of the electronic health record has been recently adopted by the Montreal Health Agency for its replication within several major Montreal hospitals.

Innovation in the Adoption of Health Informatics Award

Awarded for: An information technology project that has, through innovation and commitment, been successfully integrated into the health system.

Awarded to: The Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP) Surveillance System, Calgary Health Region, Calgary.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia is considered to be one of the more serious life-threatening ICU complications, despite it being entirely preventable. The Ventilator Associated Pneumonia Surveillance System, demonstrates an innovative example of using health informatics for the purpose of quality improvement and patient safety.

The project was completed in one year and integrates data from several hospital and departmental systems to produce key information used in the evaluation of suspected cases of VAP. Infection control practitioners have access to patient demographics, vital physiologic data, radiology and microbiology reports and case-specific antibiotic utilization to study every case.

Such data also enables the Department to assess the incidence of this calculation by site, time of year and by case mix. These findings drive improvement processes, and have resulted in a 75 percent decrease in incidence that, if sustained, could potentially translate to a $1.7 million savings annually and ensure continued active participation of all stakeholders.

The VAP Surveillance System project team members are Reza Shahpori, Critical Care Clinical Information System Manager; Alan Delosangeles, System Analyst; Pamela Ritchie, Infection Control Specialist, and Dr. Dan Zuege, Critical Care Physician Consultant.

Community Based Physician/Innovator Award
Presented by the Canadian Medical Association and Practice Solutions Ltd.

Awarded to: A practicing, community-based medical doctor who has shown outstanding leadership or innovation in the use of health IT in medical practice.

Awarded to: Dr. Lewis O’Brien, Algoma District Medical Group, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Family physician Dr. Lewis O’Brien has practiced with the Algoma District Medical Group in Sault Ste. Marie for the last 22 years. This Group Health Centre serves more than 62,000 primary care patients. It is one of the most technologically advanced primary care settings in the country, having used electronic records for the past 10 years.

Dr. O’Brien has been instrumental in the installation and continued development and success of the EMR system to support and improve the care provided at the centre. He has been steadfast in his leadership of the process of change management. His understanding and support have been instrumental in the evolution and success of the centre’s technological innovations. He has challenged the system further in the area of chronic disease management by designing templates that assist providers in the treatment of diabetes and other vascular diseases.

In addition to his EMR responsibilities, Dr. Lewis manages a large primary care practice at the centre and mentors others, enabling the benefits to accrue for both providers and patients. Consequently, he has contributed immensely to the national success and recognition of the Group Health Centre.

Steven Huesing Scholarship

Awarded to: A student currently enrolled in a health informatics or related program at an accredited post-secondary institution. The scholarship was developed to recognize the spirit, dedication and innovation that COACH Founding President Steven Huesing has brought to the field of health informatics.

Awarded to: Dr. Samina Raza Abidi.

Dr. Samina Raza Abidi is a student in the Interdisciplinary PhD program at Dalhousie University with a research focus in health informatics. As a clinician, she has witnessed first-hand the information and knowledge gaps inherent within most healthcare systems, and the ensuing practice-related challenges that health professionals face. She believes that the correct and scientific application of health informatics can bridge the knowledge gap in improving patient’s care, flow and safety, and health professionals can be supported by the deployment of point-of-care decision support, care planning and risk assessments tools.

Throughout her academic and professional career, Dr. Raza Abidi has consistently aimed to gain the right expertise to effect positive changes in the delivery of healthcare. Her first exposure to health informatics goes back to 1998 in Malaysia, when she became involved as a medical doctor in the conception and design of the Malaysian Tele-Healthcare project. This experience made her realize the potential of IT to influence changes in healthcare delivery.

Dr. Raza Abidi completed a Masters program in Information Technology in 2001, and got involved in research projects concerning the personalization of patient educational material and use of past cases for clinical decision support. In her PhD research, she is pursuing the rather complex issue of developing patient-specific care plans for standardizing patient care and ensuring patient safety – the decision support framework will assist physicians in making correct therapeutic choices when dealing with patient co-morbidities.

Her other research achievements include the development of a clinical decision support system for breast-cancer follow-up in collaboration with Cancer Care Nova Scotia, by computerizing the Canadian guideline on breast cancer follow-up and incorporating it as a decision support tool for family physicians performing breast cancer follow-up at their clinics. This innovative research has led to three publications at top health informatics conferences. She has also developed two undergraduate health informatics courses and hopes that through her research and teaching activities, she will be able to contribute to the advancement of health informatics and in turn help to improve healthcare.

Recipients of the CHITTA 2007 Awards were:

Company of the Year:

Project Implementation Team of the Year:
Initiate Systems and Saskatchewan Client Registry

Healthcare Transformation Award:
CLINICARE Corporation

Corporate Citizenship Multi-National Company Award:
IBM Canada

Corporate Citizenship Major Canadian Company Award:
Borden Ladner Gervais

COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association is dedicated to promoting the use and practice of health informatics within the Canadian health system through information sharing, networking, education, conferences and communication. Founded in 1975, COACH has a diverse and multi-disciplinary membership of over 1,000 individuals with common interests in sharing ideas and efforts. COACH is advancing the practice of health informatics and is one of the most dynamic resources in the health industry in Canada. For more information, visit the COACH website at

CHITTA is the Health Division of ITAC. ( The concept of CHITTA was developed in late 2001 leading to its "creation’ by a dedicated group of CEOs and senior executives of leading Canadian companies providing products and services to the Canadian healthcare community in April, 2002. Their firms represent a broad spectrum of ICT services to an equally broad spectrum of Canada’s healthcare delivery system and its supporting infrastructure.