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Inaugural CMA Health Summit

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) hosted its inaugural Health Summit on August 20 and 21. Centred around the theme “Inspiring a future of better health,” the two-day event was a wonderful demonstration of the changes that the CMA first began implementing two years ago.

The highly popular Health Summit attracted more than 750 participants, mainly physicians, but also patients, other healthcare professionals, and patient advocacy or support organizations.

It was an opportunity for delegates to partake in discussions and interesting presentations on how best to prepare for the future, take advantage of technological advances, and exploit innovations to improve and democratize care.

Indeed, innovation has the ability to open doors to accessible, inclusive, and culturally diversified care. For its part, technology can encourage and promote patient-centred care, and improve services for vulnerable populations. Finally, patients and physicians need to brace themselves for an onslaught of innovations.

Participants aren’t likely to forget their meeting with Chris Hadfield, who became the first Canadian to take command of the International Space Station in 2013, or with Judith John, a patient representative whose presentation was a resounding success. From her perspective as both a manager and a patient, Ms. John explained how care itself can be “the best healthcare innovation there is.” She believes that many of the problems plaguing healthcare could be solved by creating stronger ties between people.

Innovation is the key to improving care

The Grand Central space was another success, proving to be a great showcase for several Canadian innovations shaping the future of health and medicine. In Grand Central, participants could meet with innovators and talk to them about the solutions they’ve come up with to improve patient care.

Two Québecers stood out in particular: Dr. Adam Hofmann, member of the Board of Directors of the Québec Medical Association (QMA), and Dr. Yanick Beaulieu, a member of the QMA. The former invented a free app, Medmo, that lets family physicians interact with specialists to ask them questions, request consultations, or send them information about their practice. The latter created a digital platform, Reacts (Remote Education, Augmented Communication, Training and Supervision), to help physicians exchange information and knowledge with ease. Reacts can be used to send records and messages instantaneously, organize videoconferences and phone consultations with patients—cutting down on the number of in-person appointments—or even train, supervise and advise colleagues.

A gathering place to share ideas and spark change, Grand Central was a venue for participants to continue conversations from the main stage and connect with other stakeholders.

This new format for the summit was popular with participants, who appreciated the more traditional presentations and round tables as much as they enjoyed Grand Central.

General Council to stay

However, the CMA’s proposals on governance were less well received. It bears saying that Canadian physicians have a very emotional attachment to what they call their Parliament: the General Council.

During the General Assembly, which took place the day after the Health Summit, after much confusion about the proceedings, CMA members finally voted in favour of keeping the General Council, contrary to the organization’s recommendations.

Even the reshuffling of the voting and nominations process failed to yield the two-thirds of “yes” votes needed to adopt the administrative bylaws. In the end, only one proposal was adopted, to streamline the board of directors by trimming its numbers from 26 to 19.