New council a milestone for e-health in Canada

SAS Canada says its recently launched Healthcare Advisory Council has two main goals: improving service delivery and communication.

Spearheaded by Michael Turney, strategy and market development manager at Toronto-based SAS Canada Inc., the council will bring together industry leaders and experts to share information, ideas and insights relating to e-health.

The healthcare sector is very large and organizations that are part of it need to know what others are doing, Turney said. “I sort of refer to it as the healthcare ecosystem. There are so many arms and agencies and affiliations, and they all play different but very necessary roles.”

Turney found key participants were really keen to discover what other companies in the same sector were doing.

When forming the Council, he said, SAS sought to identify and select senior executives representing diverse sectors. One of those executives is Roman Olarnyk, CIO of Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA). For SSHA, involvement in the Council provides an opportunity to raise awareness of technology changes around data and health applications as they continue to evolve, Olarnyk said.

Toronto-based SSHA is an Ontario ministry of health agency that electronically connects healthcare providers to one another and to information they require in an effort to help improve patient care.

The Council’s membership does reflect all stakeholders, from providers to those supporting the providers on the frontline, according to Olarynk.

James Sharp, vice-president of research for customer segments at technology analyst firm IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto said he was invited by SAS to be a council participant, primarily because he has a vested interest in the healthcare vertical.

“What I bring is a reasonable understanding of technology and healthcare, and I can put that into context of the other vertical markets in Canada.”

Sharp added that IDC Canada is well linked in the community, with both technology health-care providers and users. “I have the privilege of accessing CEOs and CIOs (of hospitals),” he said. “In essence we’re a bit of a go-between, which is a nice role to play.”

As far as the areas the Council will focus on, Turney said it’s a matter of being selective.

“We walked away with a few areas we’d like to look at,” Turney said. “The idea is not to try to boil the ocean but to pick two to three areas that are very pervasive [within] the industry – ones we believe we can tackle in terms of what’s going on with software services and other technology and expert resources.”

When it comes to technology spending in healthcare, Sharp is cautiously optimistic, and with good reason.

“Sometimes I think there is a little too much hype and a little too much optimism vis-