Award-winner challenges conference to take on e-health

NIAGARA ON THE LAKE, Ont. – The winner of an annual award for leadership in public service delivery challenged the Lac Carling conference to take the lead in broadening the discussion of the future of e-health in Canada.

Public service veteran Scott Campbell spoke at the conference Sunday night after being awarded the Heintzman Leadership Award from the Institute of Citizen-Centred Service.

This year’s Lac Carling conference, which gathers public service executives from all three levels of government, is focused on the value proposition of social media technology that engages citizens.

“This agenda around community engagement … is right on target,” Campbell said. He said no one would have predicted at the first Lac Carling conference in 1996 that it would feature a keynote speaker, Rahaf Harfoush, discussing the use of social media by government. (Harfoush was a member of the new media team for U.S. President Barack Obama’s election campaign.)

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But he said Lac Carling has a critical role to play in the development of e-learning, the digital economy and especially e-health.

“We spend an awful lot of money on health care,” Campbell said – about 10 per cent of Canada’s GDP and 45 per cent of provincial spending, he said.

E-health development needs more perspectives than just stakeholders in health care, he said. For example, with pandemic planning, municipalities are increasingly involved, and referral systems used in community services sectors can be adapted for use in health care.

“We have to look at (information technology in health care) through several lenses,” he said. “We need to create a big, open tent” to engage as many perspectives as possible. “More minds on this is better than fewer.”

Lac Carling, or something like it, should bridge the gap between health care and other sectors, Campbell said.

“This is the next biggest frontier for ICT in Canada.”

Campbell joined the public service in 1972 and led the development of Ontario’s Information and Information Technology (I&IT) strategy. He was Ontario’s first corporate chief information officer and until recently sat on the board of Trillium Health Centre. He is one of the founders of the Lac Carling conference.

Alberta’s minister of culture and community spirit, Lindsay Blackett, praised conference attendees for their work.

“Canadians need to know there’s a group of people from three levels of government that put their country first,” Blackett said.

On Monday, the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA/ASIM) awarded the Peter Bennett Award to Gerry Matte, chief information officer of the District of Saanich, B.C., and past president of MISA in British Columbia.

The award is named for MISA/AIM co-founder Peter Bennett, who died suddenly days before the 2005 Lac Carling conference. MISA presents the award for making an outstanding contribution to the Canadian municipal IT community.