NAO Lecture Series

HealthPros fellow Erica Barbazza gave an informative and well-attended webinar on the emerging use of electronic medical records in the Canadian context. You can watch her talk here. You can also read an interview with Erica below.



Featured Scholar

 MG 4047 Barbazza
Erica Barbazza
International Visiting PhD Student and HealthPros Fellow

Erica is a HealthPros fellow based at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam. She is researching the actionability of health care performance indicators, exploring what makes an indicator fit for purpose and use with a focus on primary care. Originally from Toronto, she has spent the past decade abroad working for the World Health Organization in countries of central Asia and Europe.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your research?
My research is focused on the actionability of performance indicators, exploring what makes an indicator fit for purpose and use. The importance of actionable data in the context of COVID-19, or any pandemic, is clear. In studies thus far, we have explored actionability from a system perspective, to observe differences in the purposes of use of data at the micro, meso, and macro-level of systems. The current context is an opportunity to apply this thinking to the time-sensitive nature and other unique information needs that are characteristic to pandemics and the decision-making it calls for.

In my research, I have also put focus on the use of indicators in primary care. Primary care has a critical role to play over the different phases of the pandemic and in operating a dual track health system for the continued delivery of regular health services while also responding aggressively to COVID-19. I am keen to explore through my continued research ways in which actionability can best be tailored to meet the needs of primary care decision-makers in this context.

What was the most valuable part of your fellowship with the NAO?
My fellowship was co-hosted by the NAO and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). This partnership between academia and policy was a huge asset to our joint study. The wide range of contacts in the jurisdictions gave access to very timely insights on initiatives and different perspectives to priority areas of work. The bridging between research and policy at the core of the NAO made the two workplaces and perspectives very fluid and an excellent collaboration with both partners of the HealthPros network.

What would you recommend to other international visitors to Toronto?
Toronto is a fantastic city for a placement. Having grown up here, it was a chance to rediscover the city after some years abroad and see it was a new appreciation for its uniqueness in the health sphere. With policy and health research taking place at all levels – locally, provincially, pan-Canadian, and internationally – it is truly a dynamic hub for work in the field of health services and systems research.

My recommendation to visitors would be to keep time for taking advantage of this. Specifically, there is a wide range of excellent lectures and events happening through the NAO, IHPME, DLSPH or university-wide, as well as those hosted by other organizations locally. There is really no shortage of well-produced series, one-off talks or events and attending these was a great way to explore and learn. Additionally, there are a number of organizations that are based in Toronto doing great work for the city, province, or Canada as a whole. In my research, I was fortunate to meet with many in person and visit their offices to learn more about their work. I would definitely encourage visitors to take advantage of this proximity and connect and meet with those locally (when public health regulations allow). And lastly – though it goes without saying – be sure to explore all the boroughs of Toronto and the local culinary gems that are found in each.

What are some of the ideas, lessons or other things you will be bringing back with you to the Netherlands?
My fellowship has been a refresher in the health services landscape in Canada. In particular, I have been reminded of the diversity in systems across jurisdictions, which, when I am abroad, are typically aggregated to broad-stroke comparisons of Canada as a whole. I will definitely be more attuned and sensitive to appreciate the differences across jurisdictions which is uniquely important to Canada but certainly applicable to other countries with decentralized health mandates. In Europe, drawing parallels across countries is plentiful ­– a luxury in part by the mix of countries, similarities in systems, and well-established networks and organizations like the European equivalent of the NAO, among numerous other factors. In returning to the Netherlands, I am keen to further explore the exchange of insights and comparisons that can be drawn at the jurisdiction-level in Canada and European countries.