CAREER IMPACT CHALLENGE AWARD
Vancouver, BC – Public investments in digital health have quite literally made my career. When I started my medical training the iPhone had not yet been invented. Video chatting was choppy and more a gimmick than an effective tool for communication. I entered residency in a field that remained largely unchanged for more than 50 years. I saw patients in clinics and hospitals built decades ago. My professional life was tied to the community that I lived in. There were few opportunities to branch out unless I moved or could tolerate a gruelling travel schedule to do outreach to distant communities. Everything changed when some forward thinking individuals decided to make a public investment in videoconferencing technology in clinics and hospitals throughout our province. Telehealth endpoints became available in nearly every small town and city. Suddenly the world was opened to me. I decided to build a career on this. I became the medical director of the telepsychiatry services at Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC. I became an advocate for using digital solutions to address pressing concerns such as access to healthcare services in rural areas and barriers to getting mental health care everywhere. I am a psychiatrist but I do not have a couch in my office. Instead I have computers, a tablet, and a smartphone. These tools and public investments in digital health allow me to build a career that will look nothing like those of the people who have gone before me. I am excited to think of it.