Greg Reed Unplugged

Greg Reed, the new eHealth Ontario CEO, made was what arguably his public debut today at an ITAC Health sponsored information session.  The sold out event was attended by 250 people, many of whom were vendors.  Speaking without the aid of Powerpoint slides, Mr. Reed spoke briefly about what he has learned over his first 2+ weeks on the job and then fielded questions for the better part of 90 minutes.  During his opening remarks. Mr. Reed offered the following observations:

  • Observations on the Ontario health sector:
    • He is impressed by the  innovation and activity in the at the regional and local level.
    • He wonders how best eHealth Ontario can best create environment for success and even accelerate progress and welcomes input in this regard.
  • Observations on eHealth Ontario
    • Note that eHealth Ontario is a challenging organization given the events of the past year.
    • The events of the past year have created tremendous turmoil among eHealth Ontario employees and there is a need to instill stability in the organization.
    • He is moving quickly to put in place a senior team.  As noted in previous blog posts, three new Senior Vice Presidents have been appointed. Two of these positions have been staffed with new people to the organization.
    • He is working to remove obstacles to progress.
  • Observations on eHealth Ontario's role.
    • Mr. Reed noted that it is too early yet to talk about strategy.  
    • Believes that eHealth is fundamentally about making sure that all providers have up to date information about the patients that they serve and the tools to effectively use this information.
    • Feels that we need to think about the patient first and that we need to more clearly define what is meant by “patient centred care”.
    • Asked several times “Who is the advocate for the patient?”
    • Wondered who is “painting a picture of what success will look like?” and mused whether doing so is an appropriate role for eHealth Ontario.
    • Identified four possible roles for eHealth Ontario that he wants to explore with various stakeholders:
      1. Prime contractor that coordinates the efforts of various parties for projects that span multiple organizations.
      2. “Fill the white space” not addressed by the various stakeholders across the complex healthcare ecosystem.
      3. Drive standards and interoperability, facilitating consensus and serving as arbiter when consensus cannot be achieved.
      4. Acts the overall architect and defines the long term strategy for electronic health care in Ontario.

Mr. Reed concluded his opening remarks by sharing his views on leadership.  He stated that effective leader can “accomplish anything if you give credit to everyone else” and emphasized the need to work in a collegial, cooperative manner to reach consensus.

Following these opening remarks Mr. Reed opened the floor to questions.  Mr. Reed's responses to these questions included the following comments:

  • eHealth Ontario has no credibility.  The organization will only gain credibility by doing, not talking.
  • Stated that he was committed to an open procurement process and that vendors do not need to fear retribution for speaking out.
  • He is undecided regarding the need for national standards.  Stated that he is still getting differing opinions and he is still trying to assess these opinions.
  • Feels that the currently articulated eHealth Ontario strategy has many good elements but he is not sure that it is a comprehensive strategy.
  • He is impressed by the various initiatives taking place with little or no assistance from eHealth Ontario and wants to understand how eHealth Ontario can accelerate progress.
  • Feels that having an electronic health record for every Ontarian by 2015 is still a laudable goal but thinks that there are things that eHealth Ontario can do along the way that are unrelated to this goal but that deliver tangible benefits.
  • Believes strongly that decisions should not be made on the basis of who is right but on the basis of what is right.
  • Believes that starting with the patient perspective helps to clarify discussions and that eHealth Ontario can set the tone in this regard by focusing on the patient and assessing the facts.
  • Getting alignment is a big, messy process.
  • Suggests that one role that eHealth Ontario can play is to keep asking questions that keep people focused such as “What is in it for the patient?”
  • Noted that eHealth Ontario is in the penalty box at the moment and that it will take time and tangible results to restore trust and credibility among all stakeholders.
  • Would like to do a post mortem on the diabetes registry procurement process to determine what worked and what did not.  Feels that the current procurement process is prolonged and expensive.
  • Feels that the public is not ready yet to hear about eHealth success stories and that eHealth needs to regain credibility first before they will be willing to listen.

I was impressed by Mr. Reed's performance today.  He thinks quickly on his feet, is willing to answer difficult questions, and is not afraid to admit what he doesn't know.  In addition, Mr. Reed has quiet sense of humour that he uses very effectively at the appropriate times.

Mr. Reed seems sincere about wanting to engage with all stakeholder communities and to facilitate collaboration among these communities.  He clearly has a tough road ahead of him but seems up to the challenge.  

Michael Martineau

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