Andrew Szende

Andrew Szende’s approach to success – much like that of athletic giant Nike – is to just do it. This was the philosophy Szende brought to the table when the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto hired him in 1999 to head up their new electronic Child Health Network (eCHN).

The eCHN is Canada’s fist integrated and shared electronic health record system. It’s a network that connects health care providers, children and parents for the purpose of provding pediatric care. And while there are government agencies and privacy groups that are struggling with security and information sharing issues, Szende said his not-for-profit organization’s approach was to put children’s health first.

“While everybody else was trying to figure out what to do we were actually building something that is of lasting value,” he said.

What has been built is a seven-hospital network that provides a child’s medical record on a single virtual chart, shares medical information on a password protected forum for health practitioners and hosts an open Web site on children’s health issues.

Szende, who has worked as an assistant deputy minister for Ontario’s Ministry of Health and as an independent consultant, said his interest in electronic health records and medical technology were part of what sparked his interest in the eCHN.

As for the future of the eCHN, Szende summed it up in one word: growth.

“We want to grow this organizally,” he said. “We want to add more hospitals, we want to add more users and we want to add more patients. We want this to become a bigger system encompassing all of the children in Ontario and then expand beyond that to cover adults as well.

“I am very proud of what we’re doing here. We are making it possible for people to get better health care.”

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