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Making Connections 

Digital Health and Information Management Will Bring Care to Patients  

Connected Golden Spheres

Improved information sharing.  

And more consistent, collaborative communication between not only patients and care providers but clinicians as well.  


These realities are on the horizon of the Ottawa healthcare landscape.


However, to get there requires a few critical leaps for both patients and care providers. 

One of the biggest, but perhaps most straightforward, is across the digital divide.  

Five pillars of the

Digital First for Health strategy 

  1. More virtual care options

  2. Expanded access to online appointment booking 

  3. Greater data access for patients 

  4. Better, more connected tools for frontline providers  

  5. Data integration and predictive analytics 

Digital First for Health is the Ontario government’s bridge to a transformed health care system. 

The Ottawa Health Team - Équipe Santé Ottawa is using this strategy to enable new and emerging technologies around client-centred care and positive population health outcomes...  while creating a learning health system.   

A Learning Health System

endeavours to: 

  • more quickly put knowledge into practice;  

  • foster a culture of shared responsibility;  

  • engage clients and clinicians in developing and disseminating evidence;  

  • and include clients in care decision-making. 


The first step was in forming a new Digital Health and Information Management (DHIM) Strategic Leadership Team.


This group supports the advancement of digital health and information management maturity within the OHT - ÉSO and builds on the work OHT - ÉSO partners have undertaken to advance digital health priorities over the past two years.


Bringing strategic focus and long-term visioning, the DHIM Strategic Leadership Team will help the OHT - ÉSO take this portfolio to the next level. 

Dr. Alison Eyre, Family Doctor

Dr. Alison Eyre is part of that team. She's a family physician at Centretown Community Health Centre, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine and a Primary Care Lead for Ontario Health in the Eastern Region. 

“We have to do this together,” says Dr. Eyre. “The systems are too complicated, they're too expensive. And we just don't have extra money or extra time in health care at any level. So, I really hope that we deal with our solutions by sharing and working with everyone in the region and coming up with solutions that we all benefit from.” 

Ernest Ling is the Digital Health Lead with the OHT - ÉSO. He has brought together a group committed to doing that. 

“We selected members across different sectors such as Primary Care, Specialty Care, Subject Matter experts in specific domains related to Digital Health and our Priority Population,” says Ernest. “Members bring a wide range of skills and understanding. This ensures our table has a diverse mix of experience and balanced representation across OHT - ÉSO partners.” 

The OHT – ÉSO has undertaken a number of initiatives that incorporate, strengthen and advance digital health adoption and expansion, including Online Appointment Booking, Information Management and progression to an integrated Patient Portal

But Dr. Eyre is quick to highlight the need to include everyone, of all technical capabilities, in the design of the Digital First system.  

ELING Headshot.jpg

Ernest Ling, Digital Health Lead, OHT-ÉSO

Image by Joshua Sortino

“In digital health, we have to be aware of the difference between what people want and what would actually impact their health care,” says Dr. Eyre. “I hope we can bring an equity lens to the systems we bring in. Not all patients can access the digital world the way people who can advocate loudly can. The telephone works really well. I think we forget it as a digital tool.” 

And as the promises of digital health are many, she is also closely watching for pitfalls. 

“One of our greatest challenges in Ontario is that we just have so many systems that don't communicate, and that are siloed. So, a lot of times, people can't access the information they need to access to serve the patients they need to serve.”  

“I'm also afraid that the digital world has made our administrative work go up massively. It’s very easy for people to send out tons of forms that we have to fill out. We have a lot of work to do with integration within our own environments, and particularly in communication.” 

With that in mind, the architects of the digital system, the DHIM Strategic Leadership Team, need to ensure there are different ways to realize its advantages.  

“Look, everyone will benefit. But we must tailor it to people,” says Dr. Eyre. “Because we have to remember, in the end, we're dealing with people. We're not dealing with machines.” 

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