Yearb Med Inform 2017; 26(01): 301-308
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1635073
Information on IMIA Regional Groups
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

North American Medical Informatics (NAMI)

Health Informatics in Canada
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
05 February 2018 (online)


COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association

Canada’s Health Informatics Association (COACH) celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2015. COACH connects, inspires, and educates the digital health professionals creating the future of health in Canada. Our members are a diverse community of accomplished, influential professionals working to make a difference in advancing healthcare through information technology.

COACH fosters network growth and connection; brings together ideas from multiple segments for incubation and advocacy; supports members through professional development at the individual and organizational level; and advocates for the Canadian digital health industry. COACH offers a broad range of services for networking and professional development, national conferences and regional events, thought leadership and best practice sharing, and training and education services as well as specialized career resources and professional certification.

COACH Highlights – 2016–2017 fiscal year

  • Membership continues to grow. For the third year in a row, COACH has surpassed the 2,000 member mark (2,201 members in 2016-17).

  • Participation in CHIEF (Canada’s Health Informatics Executive Forum) continues to be strong with over 110 public sector and private sector leaders from across Canada.

  • The Future of Digital Health and the People Who Benefit was the theme of this year’s e-Health Conference and Tradeshow, Canada’s national digital health conference, which took place in Toronto June 4–7, 2017. Conference content is available via the new e-Health Virtual Library. See “Resources” at

  • In the Spring of 2016, COACH conducted the first ever Digital Health Leadership Survey in Canada. It was circulated to more than 300 leaders in the healthcare service delivery sector across Canada. In the fall of 2016, COACH released the inaugural National Digital Health Leadership Report, which provides insights based on the survey results.

  • Webinar Wednesdays were introduced in 2015–2016 as an innovative method to cover a broad range of emerging topics for members. The webinar format maximizes accessibility for members to attend sessions, without need to incur time and cost for travel. The sessions have been very well received in 2016-17, attracting more than 1,000 attendees.


New Initiatives

Several online initiatives were released in the Autumn of 2016 to inform and empower COACH members:

  1. Updated COACH Website – to enhance member experience, the refreshed website features features a fresh design and improved navigation. “The site refresh stems from COACH’s deep commitment to being responsive and future-focused for our members, the health informatics profession and the digital health industry in Canada,” said CEO Mark Casselman. “Innovation is a big part of the industry and this first set of updates to the website will better support members and professionals in leading practice, building professional networks, and creating content in health informatics and digital health.”

  2. COACH Communities of Action (COA) provide COACH members who share a common interest or passion in the health informatics (HI) field with the opportunity to learn, collaborate, network, and publish. Operating as a community of equals with Leaders, Managers, and Core Working Groups, COA participants exchange ideas and information, enhance their understanding of a particular HI subject, and seek answers to specific questions. Our volunteers collaborate towards a common goal of producing serviceable documents for COACH stakeholders within a 6-month cycle, to advance the creation and adoption of HI solutions. Examples of COA include Home and Community Care, Consumer Digital Health, HI education, and eSafety.

  3. Redesigned weekly member communications email - called PULSE, the new weekly email has been formatted to be easy and quick to scan for content of interest.


Upcoming COACH Conferences and Events

2017 CHIEF Spring Symposium – Taking place June 2–3, 2017 in Toronto, this event convenes the members of Canada’s Health Informatics Executive Forum (CHIEF) to explore three main themes in depth: 1) Digital Health Leadership; 2) Patient Engagement; 3) Data and Analytics. This event will enable members to network, collaborate, and enhance their leadership roles in eHealth.

e-Health Conference and Tradeshow 2018 - May 27 - 30, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia - This year, e-Health showcases the many successful products, success stories, and leaders in our nation’s digital health journey. With an impressive roster of keynote presenters (8), speakers (250+), educational sessions (160+), and exhibitors (85+), over 1,500 eHealth attendees will enjoy exceptional education and networking opportunities. The highly anticipated Canadian Health Informatics Awards (CHIA) Gala returns as well. A “Start Up Zone” is available to new companies who want to join the exhibitor floor. Visit for regular updates.

eHealthAchieve 2017 – scheduled for November 6–7, 2017 in Toronto, this annual eHealth forum is one of the most respected healthcare events in North America. Further details are forthcoming.

Webinar Wednesdays are popular with our members, since they provide a way for busy health informatics professionals to keep up-to-date on emerging issues and trends. Upcoming Webinars for 2017 include:

  • CIHI’s Digital Health Strategy: How Stakeholder Engagement has Driven the Evolution of CIHI’s Digital Footprint

  • SPARKing a Pathway to Access Patient Health Data

  • Moving Precision Medicine Forward in Canada

  • Using Technology to Implement Ontario’s first Quality Standards in Mental Health

  • OntarioMD Integration Update: Part of Something Bigger – EMR’s Supporting Patients, Practices and the Health System

  • COACH Webinar with IBM

  • Providing and Managing Publicly Funded Physiotherapy Visits via Private Clinics

  • Independent Verifcation and Validation: Keeping Projects on Track in Health Organizations

  • Your Home, Your Health System: CIHI’s Public Reporting Tool is Supporting Quality Improvement in Long-Term Care


Recently Completed COACH Conferences and Events

eHealth 2016 : Reimagining Healthcare Delivery – took place in Vancouver, Canada from June 5 to 8, 2016. Over 1,500 attendees included “C-level” executives, professionals in telehealth and health informatics, clinicians, data analytics leaders, and emerging professionals. Over 150 education sessions were delivered, with presenters from 6 different countries. Topics included consumer health, privacy standards, analytics, data governance, e-prescribing, telehealth, clinical satisfaction, and more. New features included spontaneous “flash” rants and Innovation Alley, which showcased start-up companies on the trade show floor. The pre-conference Sunday Symposium was very well received by delegates. It featured fascinating presentations on FHIR, interoperability, and telehealth. The third annual Hacking Health Hackathon took place as part of the conference, which brought together interprofessional teams of clinicians, designers, and Health IT experts in a competition to develop the best prototype solutions to real-world eHealth problems. The 11th annual star-studded COACH/CHIA (Canadian Health Informatics Awards) Gala also took place during the event.

eHealthAchieve 2016 took place on November 7 and 8, 2016 in Toronto. The theme was “Healthcare Innovations: Enablers, Challenges, and Gaps”. Keynote speakers included Don Tapscott and William Charnetski. Presentations included topics such as Internet of Things in Health, Cloud Computing, and Data Analytics.

Webinar Wednesdays have provided a convenient way for busy health informatics professionals to keep up-to-date on emerging issues and trends. Topics in 2016 – 2017 have so far included:

  • What Telehealth Can Do For You

  • HL7 FHIR: Time to Pay Attention

  • COACH Privacy and Security for EMR’s

  • Jurisdictional Adoption & Implementation Experiences with the COACH eSafety Guidelines in Alberta and Ontario

  • How Master Data Management Can Revolutionize Your Healthcare Data

  • Virtual Care in Canada

  • Research Ethics Approval

  • The Digital Era of Forms Management

  • Patient to Provider Data Quality

  • Innovating HI with Next Generation Data Integration & Management in Preparation for Patient Care Transformation

  • How Well are Digital Technologies Working for Patients? A Patient-Centred Framework for Evaluating Digital Maturity

  • The Role of Pathology Informatics in Transfusion Service Optimization

  • Consumer Health in Primary Healthcare

  • Collaborating with Care Providers and Patients to Develop a COPD Protocol for Home Health Monitoring

  • Don’t be a Data Breach Headline in 2017

  • Our Journey to a Single Health Record with Fraser Health

  • Modernizing Canada’s Hospital Data Supply to Reduce the Data Burden & Improve Timeliness & Access

  • West Park Healthcare Centre Journey in an HIS Cluster

  • How to Address Canadian Physician Concerns Around Safety and Privacy

  • How to get the Most out of COACH Membership

COACH/ANHIX 2017 Conference – Alberta’s Clinical Information System: The New Frontier took place on Feb 8, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta. It featured public and private sector leaders sharing their vision for the provincial Clinical Information System. Over 130 attendees discussed Integrated Health Records, Precision Medicine, and Digital Health Leadership.

UPONDIGITAL: The Ontario Update on Digital Health 2017 took place in Toronto, Ontario on March 6, 2017. Public sector leaders from across the province presented perspectives and engaged their peers from public and private sector in discussion related to the challenges and opportunities of innovation in Ontario: Are we strengthening our healthcare system? Are innovations creating value? What more needs to be done to the Digital Health Innovation Ecosystem (DHIE) to produce better outcomes and improve patient experience?

Ahead of the Curve: Patient Engagement & Connected Care took place in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 27, 2017. It featured thought leaders sharing their insights on the shift towards new models of care delivery, enhanced connectivity between Canadians and their healthcare providers, and the rapid introduction and availability of innovative technologies across Canada. This networking breakfast event featured engaging discussion about the people, processes, and technologies enabling the next generation of patient engagement and connected care.

Progressive Partnerships: Digital Health Collaboration and Innovation - Thursday, May 11, Algonquin College, Ottawa Ontari o - Successful collaboration between public and private sector digital health teams was the topic of this breakfast workshop session in Canada’s national capital area.


New and Updated Publications

The following COACH publications were released or updated in 2016–2017:

NEW: 2016 National Digital Health Leadership Report: A Current State Snapshot was released in November 2016. “COACH went directly to digital health leaders for their experiences and insights about how digital health innovation is impacting care and the health system,” said COACH CEO Mark Casselman. “Our report brings forward a valuable snapshot of what is happening now across Canada, and will help inform a roadmap for health system transformation going forward.” Features: 1) gain crucial insights into career growth areas; 2) understand management priorities; 3) see what the innovators are implementing.

UPDATED: Putting It Into Practice – Privacy and Security for Healthcare Providers Implementing Electronic Medical Records Special Edition V3. With electronic medical records (EMRs) now part of mainstream of medical practice across Canada, having a guide that explains privacy and security best practices in Canada in concise, easy-to-understand terminology is even more important in protecting valuable personal health information. COACH’s new edition of this guide contains refreshed content, including an extensively updated section on legislation and regulation.

“Across the country, we have seen jurisdictions working diligently over the three years since the previous edition was published, so that laws better reflect and support the clinical reality of digital technology when it comes to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of personal health information and healthcare delivery overall,” said Geoffrey Pille, Chair of the COACH Privacy and Security Expert Working Group, which led the update. “The new edition includes important information along with links to key resources reflecting the latest in jurisdictional regulation.”

Putting It into Practice is designed to support community providers in making better, more informed decisions about implementing privacy and security best practices in an office setting when using electronic record systems as they collect, use, access, share, and store personal health information. Written for practitioners, it is intended to enhance awareness and assist providers with the often complex decision-making around the selection, implementation, maintenance, and support of an electronic record system. The importance of jurisdictional-specific conformance standards, agreements, and privacy policies is also outlined.

Putting It into Practice can be purchased from the COACH Store as an eBook PDF, including bookmarking, hyperlinks, and hover definitions, or hard-copy book (print on-demand).



COACH is an active participant through its leaders and members in the development and implementation of international standards for health information as the key to electronic health record (EHR) initiatives in Canada and worldwide. COACH also contributes to international standards development through members’ involvement with the ISO Technical Committee on Health Informatics (TC 215), HL7 and SNOMED International.


COACH’s 2014 – 2017 Strategy

The COACH 2014- 2017 Strategic Plan is the culmination of a comprehensive process featuring strong membership engagement through surveys and focus groups, Board-led assessments of all COACH’s primary programs and services, input from COACH’s eHealth and CEO Advisory Council, an internal program assessment and metrics report developed by our staff, facilitated Board workshop and review sessions and strategy development.

As a foundation to the COACH Association and to demonstrate Canadian leadership in the area of Health Informatics, COACH uses the following definition of Health Informatics: The intersection of clinical, IM/IT and management practices to achieve better health.

The COACH mission is to connect, inspire and educate the digital health professionals creating the future of health in Canada. COACH’s values are:

  • Demonstrate leadership by introducing innovation that accelerates the transformation of health service delivery

  • Value collaboration through sharing of health informatics and digital health-knowledge and experience with others

  • Recognize the diversity of our membership

  • Remain committed to continuous learning

  • Be guided by professionalism, integrity and ethics

  • Respond to and serves the needs of the members and the health system

The COACH 2014–2017 Strategy is comprised of five main strategic goals and objectives:

  1. Enhance Membership Value Through Network Growth and Connections -COACH will deliver high membership value through a large, integrated professional network that includes traditional sectors, new segments, and innovative service offerings.

  2. Connect Communities (Digital and Physical) - COACH will deepen existing and build new relationships with partners to improve access to information, enhance value exchange, and develop regional infrastructure to support member activity.

  3. Empower Professional Development And Advocacy - COACH will support members through professional development at the individual and organizational level and advocate for the Canadian digital health industry.

  4. Implement Digital Business Platform - COACH will operate effectively and efficiently with technology enabled services to engage and support membership needs seamlessly.

  5. Build Brand Awareness and Brand Value - COACH brand is recognized, valued, and respected within the digital health industry.


Programs and Services

2016–2017 services and programs include:

  • COACH membership opportunities

    • COACH offers Corporate, Start-up, Academic, and Individual Memberships

    • Position postings are available to all members and also non-member organizations looking to fill job postings.

    • Volunteer opportunities exist all across the Association and COACH engages with over 240 volunteers annually.

    • CHIEF (Canada’s Health Informatics Executive Forum) provides an effective access channel to thought leaders and expert-level knowledge, both nationally and internationally, and advances career development for Canadian Health Informatics Leaders

  • National eHealth Conference and Regional Events

    • Canada’s National eHealth Conference and Tradeshow (co-hosted by COACH, Canada Health Infoway, and Canadian Institute for Health Information)

    • Symposiums with COACH and partner provincial jurisdiction HI organizations

      • Alberta Network for Health Information Exchange (ANHIX) Symposium

      • Ontario UpOnDigital Conference

      • Ontario Hospital Association Health Achieve

  • Education and Training

    • Health Informatics education is available from COACH in both online and in-person/classroom sessions in locations across the country. Visit for a complete schedule of upcoming courses.

  • Thought Leadership and Practice Tools

    • Health Informatics Professionalism

      • CPHIMS-CA Certification

      • HIP® Competency Framework

      • HIP® Core Competencies

      • HIP® Career Matrix

      • HIP® Role Profiles

    • Communities of Action

    • Key Documents, Guidelines and White Papers

      • Guidelines for the Protection of Health Information - Main Edition

      • Privacy & Security Special Edition: Putting it into Practice – Privacy & Security for Healthcare Providers Implementing EMRs

      • Privacy & Security Special Edition: Putting it into Practice – Access Audits for Electronic Health Records

      • Privacy & Security Special Edition: Privacy & Security for Patient Portals

      • eSafety Guidelines

      • Health Informatics Human Resources Guidelines: Recruitment

      • Canadian Health Informatics Review & Reference Guide

      • HI Education Report

      • Canadian Telehealth Report

      • EHR Governance White Paper

      • EMR Adoption White Paper

      • Canadian EMR Adoption and Maturity Model White Paper

      • Journals

      • HICSS

      • IMIA Yearbook

For more information

COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics


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