BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS 280 CHARACTERS AT A TIME
Colin Hung is a 20-year veteran in software and information technology who is no stranger to the challenges of Canada’s health care system. He is a mechanical engineer by trade, who began his career implementing document management solutions for insurance companies and hospitals. It was during that time that Colin witnessed first-hand just how outdated the health care industry was.
“We were essentially taking technologies that had been implemented in retail and manufacturing and bringing them to health care and it was brand new for them,” he says.
It was in 2010 while working in a health care marketing role that Colin learned about a social media platform called Twitter. He soon joined a community called Health Care Social Media Canada, where publication editors, patients and health care practitioners talked about the use of social media in health care. “I became fascinated by the fact that when the community came together, there were no titles. You didn’t care whether people were experts or clinicians. They were voicing their opinions and I loved it,” he remembers.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF HEALTH CARE LEADERS
Two years later, Colin saw an opportunity to create a new community focused on making health care better for everyone. In 2012, #HCLDR, also known as Health Care Leader, was born. “Like every community on social media, there are no titles, no borders, you have no idea who you’re chatting with. Instead, it’s about sharing ideas. That’s the beauty of social media,” he says.
The community gathers on Tuesday evenings at 8:30 p.m. EST to discuss a predetermined health care topic. A blog post outlining the topic is posted on the #HCLDR website in advance with references and additional materials to allow for deeper discussion.
Colleen Young is an online community strategist who has been with the #HCLDR community since day one. She loves how the chat brings together so many stakeholders from around the world. “Every chat brings about new perspectives. You never know who will be joining, so even if we cover a topic a second or third time, the outcome is never the same.” She likens the chats to an intense brainstorming session, resulting in breaking down social barriers and building circles of trust. “The merit of the ideas is more important than titles.”
CREATING CHANGE FROM THE GROUND UP
Colin and Colleen see #HCLDR’s role as a catalyst for change in individual organizations. It’s a grassroots movement where people are exposed to fresh ideas and new thinking. “They bring that thinking and those ideas back to their organizations and change can be implemented very quickly,” says Colleen. “But for now, innovation is happening in pockets and we don’t necessarily hear about it.” And this, she believes, is where Canada Health Infoway’s ACCESS 2022 movement can make the biggest difference.
The movement is designed to provide patients and their clinicians with better access to the health information they need. “The ACCESS 2022 initiative is very important because without access to data, a lot of future innovations can’t happen. Data is the foundation,” says Colleen.
Access to digital medical records is a topic the #HCLDR community has discussed on more than one occasion. The lack of interoperability between various systems is at the root of the issue. “We’re trying to improve communication. I want to know that my pharmacist, lab tech, physician and specialist are all accessing the same data,” says Colleen. “Access means I can build my health care team. I can choose who I want to access my data. If we can achieve this goal, it will make the system more efficient. It will reduce costs and it will create a seamless, more confident health care journey for patients.”
MAKING HEALTH CARE BETTER FOR EVERYONE
When asked why #HCLDR has partnered with ACCESS 2022, Colin doesn’t hesitate. “As a Canadian, I want the system to be the best it can be by the time I need it,” he explains. “It starts with digitizing everything and getting everyone talking to each other and sharing information freely and easily. It will improve health care for everyone. And it needs to be better for everyone — patients, clinicians and the system. Otherwise, it will fall apart.”