Canada: The Country to Beat

Philip De Souza
Photo of HIROC and AOM speakers
Allyson Booth (AOM), Joanna Noble (HIROC), and Elizabeth Brandeis (AOM) spoke about successful partnerships at NHLC 2019.

At the 2019 National Health Leadership Conference (NHLC) in Toronto, over 800 healthcare leaders descended on the city, just minutes from the famed Jurassic Park.

This year’s conference created a seismic shift in energy. Between talks of healthcare innovation, and the fact that almost every session and many hallway conversations were also peppered with buzz from the NBA playoffs – NHLC 2019 was certainly one to remember.

Huda Idrees, Founder and CEO of Dot Health, made the link between the sports phenomenon that is the Toronto Raptors and Canadians in general. “We sometimes take for granted what we have right here in Canada – amazing talent,” she said to the capacity crowd. Idrees was part of a thought-provoking panel keynote, Unleashing the Power of Innovation: Perspectives on Digital Health. “We have all the right ingredients and we can show the world that Canada will be the country to beat when it comes to innovation,” she said.

During the engaging panel, Dr. Michael Leonard, a founder of Safe & Reliable Healthcare, honed in on the critical importance of fostering a collaborative culture and closing the loop on feedback. “We’re all really good at creating forums for people to provide feedback, share ideas or concerns,” he said; “but the primary cause for the lack of engagement and poor culture is the fact that we often don’t close the circle and actually get back to people.”

Dr. Leonard highlighted the value of hearing from many voices – patients, families, staff and others. “Learning boards give people a voice, they allow for the capturing of ideas and issues from everyone in a safe space.” A tool to foster culture change in healthcare organizations, learning boards allow leaders to see first-hand what people are talking about and which issues need addressing in real-time. This pivot in everyday leadership behaviour also aims to boost engagement and close the feedback loop – something staff want to see.

“Behaviour is communication,” said Andrea Palmer, CEO of Awake Labs, whose storytelling captivated the audience. Her team is harnessing technology to help people manage their anxiety. The end goal is to ensure users can live a life they are excited about – holding a job they are passionate about, maintaining meaningful relationships, and living healthy lifestyles.

The panel offered a chance for delegates to pose important and timely questions. They were eager to hear about the level of government intervention required to realize positive change. Delegates also spoke to the necessity for organizations to be intentional in how they adopt innovation.

Innovative projects between healthcare organizations, governments and other non-profits should be collaborative in nature – founded on commonalities rather than focusing on differences.

“Nothing in healthcare can be done alone,” said Idrees. “What we can do is harness the learnings from other industries, other healthcare systems, and see how they implement effective processes in their work.” Idrees says there is great value in having champions within institutions.

Idrees’ remarks segued well with another talk about learning from positive partnerships.

A strong partnership between HIROC and the AOM

The diversity of sessions also saw midwives in the spotlight.

HIROC has been the insurer for the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) for the past 15 years – and it’s a relationship that has grown tremendously, with learning on both sides.

“Think about a great partnership – what worked well and why?” asked Elizabeth Brandeis, President of the Board of the AOM. One by one, delegates in the audience responded to Brandeis’ question; “mutual respect,” said one, “common goals,” said another, “shared purpose,” another.

HIROC’s Joanna Noble, Interim Director of Healthcare Safety & Risk Management, pinpointed the difference-maker when partnering with HIROC. “We feel this ethical obligation to provide our information and data, and to give it back to our subscribers,” she said.

“When you come together there’s a stronger voice,” added Noble. “We have a responsibility to be nimble and aware of what’s happening in the industry and we can also provide a national lens to the AOM partnership.”

Allyson Booth, AOM’s Director, Quality and Risk Management, summed up the relationship best – “Our relationship with HIROC is more than just an insurer.” Delegates left the session feeling inspired about identifying and stewarding relationships with their many partners. “Coming from a relationship of trust and focusing on learning from each other will help with better understanding how to navigate a complex healthcare system,” said Brandeis.

No matter which sessions delegates were part of, or the number of collaborative conversations that took place at breakfast, lunch or at the Let’s Talk with HIROC lounge – there was no denying that the energy was palpable. NHLC 2019 was filled with optimism, both for taking action in healthcare innovation, and of course for an NBA Championship that would soon arrive in Canada for the first time.

By Philip De Souza, Director Communications & Marketing, HIROC