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COACH: Canada's Health Informatics Association

    IMIA Representative:    
    Dr. Jeremy Theal, MD, FRCPC
    Chief Medical Information Officer
    North York General Hospital
    4001 Leslie Street, Suite GS-70b
    Toronto, Ontario, M2K 1E12

    IMIA Nursing Informatics SIG Representative:
    Dr. Margaret Kennedy

    Head Office:Image
    151 Yonge St 
    Toronto, ON Canada M5C 2W7
    Tel: +1 647 775 8555
    Twitter: @COACH_HI

    Mike Barron
    President and Chief Executive Officer,
    Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI)
    70 O'Leary Avenue, St. John's, NL   A1B 2C7


    CEO:     Image
    Mr. Mark Casselman  
    COACH: Canada's Health Informatics Association
    Toronto, ON
    Tel: 647 775 8555
    Executive Director, Operations:Image
    Ms. Shannon Bott
    Executive Director, Operations
    COACH: Canada's Health Informatics Association
    Toronto , ON
    Tel: 647 775 8555


    Founded: 1975    Membership: 1500   
    COACH: Canada's Health Informatics Association

    Founded in 1975, COACH: Canada's Health Informatics Association is the organization focused on advancing health informatics (HI) practices and professionalism in Canada. Representing more than 1,300 members, COACH is committed to a vision of taking health informatics mainstream. The association's mandate is to promote the understanding and adoption of HI within the Canadian health system through leadership, professional development, advocacy and a strong, diverse membership. COACH focuses on fulfilling this mandate through a number of key initiatives in addition to the continued enhancement of member services in the areas of networking, information and knowledge sharing, conferences, education, alliances and thought leadership and advocacy.

    Completing its 32nd year as the national association for HI, COACH continues to develop significant and exciting initiatives to provide leadership in the evolution of HI as a profession in Canada. COACH continues, in conjunction with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), to host the largest annual e-Health conference in Canada. COACH and the Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association (CHITTA) also co-host the annual Canadian Health Informatics Awards program that recognizes achievment and contribution in the HI community through a growing number of personal, project and company-based awards.

    Targeting the growth and responsible development of the profession of HI, COACH is addressing the need for professional credentialing through development of a HI defintion, competency profiles and ethical principles. Health Informatics Professional Core Comptencies, a copyrighted document of COACH, contains a concise, overarching definition of HI, as well as a set of knowledge, skills and capabilities, or 'core competencies', that multi-disciplinary HI professionals need to share in order to work together effectively. The document is posted on the COACH website at

    This document is a critical foundational step for developing HI as a profession and will evolve over time to remain current and relevant The following definition is a key element of it:

    "Health informatics is the intersection of clinical, IM/IT and management practices to achieve better health."

    The HIP Competency Framework diagram is another important feature and reflects the three source practices that intersect to form the HI core body of knowledge, the seven more specialized bodies of knowledge and their advanced competencies and the core competencies that are achieved when the three source disciplines intersect. Core Competencies and the ethical principles, published as an appendix in the document and on the website, are the cornerstones of the COACH Health Informatics Professionalism (HIP) Program. Both projects are the result of a series of COACH research and discussion papers and expert contribution from across Canada

    Employers, COACH members, students and newcomers to the field are execpted to apply Core Competencies to foster professional and career development, identify the HI skills required into the future and increase the visibility of and understanding about HI.

    The Canadian HI academic community is one key stakeholder group that is actively involved in this and related capacity-building initiatives. An increasing number of HI undergraduate and graduate programs can be found at universities, colleges and technical schools across Canada. Excellent work began in 2007 with the Canadian Society of Telehealth (CST). COACH formed an alliance with CST to further advance the integration of telehealth with the full e-health and EHR capability that is being rolled out across Canada. The evidence of the effectiveness of this alliance can be seen in the quoted results of a joint COACH, CST and Canada Health Infoway, Inc workshop on the convergence of telehealth and e-records.

    COACH has long contributed to the development of standards for the protection of health information in Canada. The COACH Guidelines for the Protection of Health Information was originally published in 1995 and revised in 2001. The first online edition was published in 2004 and updated for the 2006 edition. The latest version, published in 2007, continues to be key resource for the HI community across Canada. COACH also offers a program to provide assistance to provincial and territorial jurisdictions across Canada charged with the implementation of privacy legislation. The Guidelines provide a 'best practices' approach beyond legislation which link to ISO standards and provide strategies for implementation. This resource provides HI professionals with the framework needed to minimize risk, maximize integrity and protect privacy for all personal health information. The 2007 version of the Guidelines continues to reflect the realities and evolving requirements of our industry as Canada continues major initiatives and implementations that increase use of Electronic Health Records (EHR). The jurisdiction program provides for the purchase of a 'licence' by a jurisdiction to use the content of the Guidelines for the implementation of its own program through the development of policies, controls, resource information and training programs for all those responsible in that jurisdiction - employees, contractors, physicians, pharmacists, etc.

    e-Health Conference
    One of COACH's most successful programs is the annual e-Health Conference, held in partnership with CIHI, which attracts over 1,500 members of the HI community. e-Health 2007: Paths to Transformation, was held May 27-29 in beautiful Québec City, Québec. The 2008 e-Health conference, planned for May 4-7 in Vancouver, will be centred on Extending the Reach. A larger than ever conference exhibition and trade show, along with an expanded eight-track program will be part of this event. Tracks include: Operating the Electronic Health Record (EHR), Privacy, Security and Risk Management, Human Factors and Change Management, Innovation and Sustainability, School of Hard Knocks, Measuring Progress and Harvesting the Benefits of the EHR, Decision support: From Patient Care to System Management and Engaging the Public.

    In addition to this most highly valued national conference, COACH added the first of its Executive Forum Series conferences in the fall of 2007, with the well-organized and attended Recruiting and Retaining Health Informatics Professionals: What You Need to Know and Do event. A follow-up event will be held on Global Issues and Global Opportunities in conjuction with e-Health 2008.

    COACH continues to be an active participant in the development and implementation of international standards for health information as the key to EHR initiatives in Canada and worldwide. Many COACH members are actively involved as volunteers including, in several cases, chairing key groups of the Infoway Standards Collaborative of Canada (ISC), such as ISC working groups and strategic, coordinating, technical and clinical committees. ISC is a fully harmonized standards group covering all HI-related standards development organizations (SDO), including ISO Techncial Committee 215 on Health Informatics (ISO/TC215), Health Level 7 (HL7), International Health Terminology (IHT) and DICOM.

    Internationally, COACH members and staff participate on the Canadian Advisory Committee ISO/TC215 and also attend, lead or develop standards with ISO/TC215, HL7 and IHT SDOs. Don Newsham, COACH CEO and Past President, Kathryn Hannah, Dr. Marion Lyver, Andrew Grant, Julie Richards, Dennis Goikas and Grant Gillis, are just a few of the COACH participants. COACH, a primary source of experts contributing to standards development, appoints, in conjunction with the Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA), representatives to ISC strategic, coordinating and clinical committees. COACH is a strong expert source, advocate and partner in advancing HI standards in Canada.

    The organizational capacity of COACH is also growing. In 2007, Alison Gardner joined the organization in the new positon of Program Director. Alison will plan, develop and help launch new and enhanced programs and serivces for COACH. Alison and Don work with the strong association management firm, Base Consulting, including Executive Director Renee Levine and her staff. This additional capacity is fully focused on advancing the HI practices and professionalism through enhanced services to members, a defined and understood profession, a well communicated and valued program, a growing thought leadership capability and an effective, sustainable organization.

    Related Organizations
    Canada Health Infoway -

    Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)

    Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association (CHITTA)

    Canadian Nursing Informatics Association (CNIA)

    Canadian Society of Telehealth (CST)

    Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA)

    Canadian Medical Association

    Canadian Healthcare Association

    Last updated: 04 July, 2014

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