Ontario to hire former consultant as new eHealth CEO

Eight months after eHealth Ontario CEO Sarah Kramer left embroiled in a spending scandal, the organization responsible for the province’s electronic health records plan is finally ready to permanently fill her position.


The organization has nominated former Dundee Bank of Canada chief Greg Reed for the CEO position. His official appointment is still subject to a review by the Standing Committee on Government Agencies, but no timetable has yet been set.


A spokesperson for eHealth Ontario said Reed would not be available for comment until he is officially appointed.


In addition to his time in the financial services sector, Reed spent roughly 20 years at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., where he served in director, principal and associate positions.


Despite last summer’s debate about out-of-control spending on consultants, Reed’s lengthy stint in the consulting industry will actually help him in his future role, according to Ray Hession, chair of the board of directors at eHealth Ontario. The chairman said Reed was chosen primarily for his ability to conduct the core business disciplines of eHealth Ontario, which includes change management, business process transformation and systems integration.


“We were looking for a seasoned leader with a strong capacity in the collaborative style of management,” he said. “In the health industry, leaders on the clinical side of health look for collaboration in effecting any sort of significant change.”


For this reason, Hession also doesn’t expect Reed’s lack of government or health-care experience to be an issue.


“As a private sector player, if you look behind the work that he’s done over the years, particularly when he was with McKinsey, where he spent almost 20 years of his life, he’s had both private- and public-sector exposure through his clients along the way,” he said.


Hession expects Reed to lead the delivery of a diabetes registry and a medication management program over the next few years, as well as more work on reducing wait times for Ontario residents. In terms of eHealth Ontario’s 2015 goal to create a fully operational EHR system, the target is still well within its sights, he added.


“It’s pretty obvious to everybody that there’s been a bit of a hiccup in the course of the last few months,” Hession said. “There’s been some delay, but it has not been so much that we still don’t see the possibility, if not the probability, of meeting the 2015 goals.


“The only way to overcome this problem is to deliver quality results,” he added.


Wayne Gudbranson, president and CEO at Ottawa-based IT research firm Branham Group Inc., was very pleased with the hiring, adding that Reed’s private-sector background could be a strong asset.


“His background in the private sector is important,” he said. “We see it as an acknowledgement that this industry has to be treated as a true business vertical.”


Gudbranson said eHealth Ontario has plenty of health care and IT subject matter experts on staff, but these employees need a true leader to help the organization meet its 2015 goal.


He added that Reed and his staff will now need to focus on utilizing the money that was well spent in the past and delivering specific applications to Ontario citizens.
Carmi Levy, a London, Ont.-based independent technology analyst, said the clock is ticking for Reed to put last year’s scandal behind him. While he does have the multidisciplinary background to lead the charge, Levy said, the new CEO has his work cut out for him.


“The scandal had the unwelcome effect of distracting everyone’s attention from the value of eHealth Ontario,” he said. “Reed’s immediate challenge lies in rebranding the organization as a value-added driver of change and a creator of value for our health-care investments.”

Reed’s experience in the financial sector also includes a stint as president and CEO of Altamira Investment Services and as a senior executive of the National Bank of Canada. He holds a computer sciences degree from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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