TORONTO – The University Health Network is proud to announce the establishment of the Wolfond Chair in Digital Health, along with the inaugural Chair holder, Dr. Joseph Cafazzo. The Chair, one of the first of its kind in Canada, is an important step forward in acknowledging the importance of advanced applied research in the discipline of digital health and supporting a positive change in modernized healthcare delivery.

The Chair itself will span over the course of 10 years and has only been possible through the generosity of Henry and Greg Wolfond and their spouses, Rochelle Reichert and Linda Wolfond. Their commitment to digital health comes at an important time, where funding in the field can lead to impact and scalability, something that has often been difficult to achieve in healthcare when compared to other industries.

Dr. Cafazzo, executive director of biomedical engineering, Healthcare Human Factors, and eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network, is excited about what the Chair means for digital health and the part he will play in making the discipline meet its fullest potential.

Dr. Cafazzo is an associate professor of the University of Toronto, with the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, as well as the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering.

“I believe that the role of this Chair, at least in part, is to take a critical look at digital health. There continues to be challenges on how to make it ubiquitous in healthcare and changing the way healthcare is delivered. Some of these challenges are due to bad design of the digital health products, and increasingly of the health system itself, that is not amenable to digital health services.”

Pictured: Dr. David Jaffray, Executive Vice-President, Technology and Innovation, UHN & Dr. Joseph Cafazzo

Dr. Cafazzo will be taking a dynamic approach to the Chair and is confident that through bringing together a diverse range of talent within various fields, its impact will be the strongest.

“We are going to need different types of professionals to achieve the goals of digital health. I will be bringing together not only the schools of engineering, computer science, human factors, and health services research, but also design programs from institutions such as OCADU.

“We’ll continue to apply novel methods of design and evaluation to develop new health service paradigms enabled through digital health.”

No stranger to the complexities involved in the research, development and implementation of digital health, Dr. Cafazzo also understands that considerations need to be made for digital health not only at a technical level, but also at a policy level.

“We realize the necessity of system changes that need to be achieved through policy for digital health to truly to be enabling of patients and their care providers. Changing the system will require some strong evidence, but also some sensible evaluation methods that are more timely and always keeping the needs of the patient as paramount. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the cost, to both patients and to the system, of not creating the change we need.”

Originally Published in Canadian Healthcare Technology Magazine