IHE Innovation Forum XIII - Better Information - Better Health

Better Information - Better Health: Key People

Speaker Biographies

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Andrew Bjerring
Chair, The Expert Panel on Timely Access to Health and Social Data for Health Research and Health System Innovation, Council of Canadian Academies

Andrew Bjerring was a founding member of the Board of CANARIE Inc. and was President and CEO for 15 years prior to his retirement in October, 2008. Over the past 25 years, Mr. Bjerring has participated on over thirty boards, councils, and task forces dealing with advanced networking, high performance computing and related research and other applications. He is currently on the Board of Directors of Ocean Networks Canada as the immediate past Chair, is the Chair of Research Data Canada’s Policy Committee, and is a member of the Multidisciplinary Review Panel for the Alberta Government’s Research Capacity Program. Until the publication of their report in April, 2015, he was Chair of the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel investigating Timely Access to Health Data. Prior to his appointment at CANARIE, Mr. Bjerring spent eighteen years as a faculty member and then senior administrator in academic planning and information technology services at the University of Western Ontario. He obtained his BSc and MSc degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, respectively, and his PhD from the University of Western Ontario. He has been awarded honorary Doctor of Science degrees by the University of Manitoba and the University of Victoria.

Mr. William Falk
Managing Partner – Health Industries, PwC
Executive Fellow, Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation
Adjunct Professor Rotman School of Management, U of Toronto

William Falk joined the PwC partnership in July of 2012 as Managing Partner – Health Industries. He has spent 20 years as a strategist and consultant in New York and Toronto advising top academic centers, governments, and public companies in healthcare. Will has academic appointments at the University of Toronto as an Adjunct Professor at the Rotman School of Management (since 2008) and as an Executive Fellow in Residence at the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation(since 2010). Over his career, Will has had several formal advisory roles within government including:

  • Ontario Expert Panel on Adoption and Infertility and Co-Chair of the Working Group on Adoption (2008-9)
  • External Advisor to the Minister (Hon. Tony Clement) for the Treasury Board Strategic Review of Health Canada (2008)
  • Advisor to the P.M. and Minister of Health during the 2004 First Ministers Meeting
  • Member of the MOHLTC Negotiating Team for the 2012 OMA Fee Agreement

Will has a long and distinguished career as a Board Director and Advisor. He has served on a wide variety of public and private sector enterprises from early start-ups to billion-dollar publicly traded companies. Will is a graduate of the University of Toronto with a BSc, and has an MPPM from Yale University, where he later served as Visiting Research Fellow.


Ms. Robyn Blackadar
President and CEO, Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research

Robyn has over 20 years of experience in Alberta’s social and health system, focusing on policy development and analysis, quality improvement, knowledge mobilization, and data system innovation. Appointed in September 2012 as President and CEO, Robyn is responsible for strategic and operational leadership of the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research (The Centre). Robyn oversees The Centre’s generation and mobilization of evidence for child and family well-being through a collaborative cross-sector approach between government, academia, and the community. Robyn leads the team responsible for the analysis of linked administrative data from all child and youth serving ministries through the Child and Youth Data Laboratory.

She provides strategic advisory support to provincial initiatives such as the Early Childhood Development Research and Innovation Strategy, Alberta Mentoring Partnership, Building an Inclusive Education System, Addictions and Mental Health Strategy, and the Maternal Newborn Youth and Child Strategic Clinical Network. Robyn holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Calgary, an MBA from the University of Alberta, and an adjunct appointment in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta.

Dr. Stafford Dean
Senior Program Officer – Analytics, Alberta Health Services

Stafford has been using administrative and clinical data to support decision-making for over 20 years in Alberta’s Health system. He has worked at the Alberta Ministry of Health, the Calgary Health Region, Health Quality Council of Alberta and now in his current role as Senior Program Officer, Analytics at Alberta Health Services. The Analytics Departments role is to enable decision making by providing timely relevant data and reporting services. Stafford’s research interests include health system demand forecasting and clinical analytics to support continuous quality improvement. Stafford’s education includes a BSc in Actuarial Science, a MA in Economics, and a PhD in Health Research.

Dr. Roger Palmer
Vice Chair, Alberta Innovation Council
Chair, Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research
Director, Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute (Panel Chair)

Roger Palmer was educated in England and Canada, earning a BSc (Honours) from the University of London, a Graduate Certificate in Education from Cambridge University, and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Alberta.

After a distinguished career as a teacher and school administrator, Dr. Palmer was appointed Deputy Minister of Alberta Education in 1998. He was the National Director of the School Achievement Indicator Program, the first pan-Canadian program to measure student achievement. Dr. Palmer became the first Deputy Minister of Alberta Innovation and Science in 1999. There he was an architect of the Alberta Ingenuity Fund and the Informatics Circle of Research Excellence (iCORE). He created Alberta SuperNet, a broadband network linking 420 communities, and connected every hospital, school, and government department office in Alberta. In 2001, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Alberta Environment. Dr. Palmer began the process that led to Alberta’s water strategy, Water for Life, and was a strong advocate for air quality standards. He served for two years as president of the Clean Air Strategic Alliance. In 2002, Dr. Palmer was appointed Deputy Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness. During his tenure, major improvements included: the provincial on-line waitlist registry; the first provincial electronic health record in Canada; and the negotiation of an agreement with physicians and health authorities that created Primary Care Networks to improve family medicine in Alberta. He was appointed the Interim Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta in 2005. In January 2009, he joined the Alberta School of Business as Director of the MBA Public Policy & Management specialization and Director of a university research centre, The Centre for the Effective Business Management of Addiction Treatment. Roger is Chair of the Alberta Centre for Child Family and Community Research, a director of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Chair of the General Insurance OmbudService of Canada, and a director of the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute. He is on the advisory boards of several healthcare organizations and research centres. In 2005, he formed LEAD Consulting Ltd. with clients in post-secondary education, healthcare, and information technology. Dr. Palmer’s awards include the IPAC 2004 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration, the Alberta Centennial.

Ms. Deborah Prowse
Q.C., Alberta Health Advocate and Interim Seniors’ Advocate

Deborah has a professional background and training in Social Work and Law. As a private consultant, she has worked in the areas of respectful workplace, human rights and conflict management offering mediation, investigation, and training.

Deborah served as Panel Chair for the Alberta Human Rights Commission and as a Sitting Justice of the Peace in the Provincial Court of Alberta, Traffic Division. Following the death of her mother from a potassium mix-up in 2004, Deborah became a very committed patient safety advocate. She has been a founding member of the Calgary Health Region's Patient/Family Safety Council, Patients for Patients Safety Canada and most recently the Alberta Health Quality Council Patient/Family Safety Advisory Panel. She also served two terms as a board member with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. Deborah has played a significant role in speaking about her family's experiences to advance patient safety culture, policies and procedures. She has worked with many staff, including those involved in her mother’s death, and other patient/family members in sharing experiences and opportunities to advance the voice and participation of patients and families in safety efforts across Canada and internationally. In July 2014, Deborah was appointed as the first permanent Alberta Health Advocate. Her responsibilities include implementing the provincial Health Charter, the first of its kind in Canada. This position brings together Deborah’s background and experience in law, social work and health care in the pursuit of a promoting a responsive quality health care system.

Dr. Lawrence Richer
Associate Dean Clinical and Translational Research, University of Alberta

Lawrence Richer MD, MSc is Associate Dean Clinical/Translational Research and Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta as well as Associate Director of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute. He is a Pediatric Neurologist with clinical and research interests in the treatment of headache and disorders of the autonomic nervous system. As Associate Dean he has a broad interest in improving the access and use of health information to improve patient care through research and process improvement. Through the Maternal, Infant, Child, and Youth Research Network (MICYRN) he also leads an initiative to improve standards in research data management among maternal and child health research institutes in Canada.

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, OC, AOE, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRSC
Chair, Institute of Health Economics
Professor and CIHR/ GSK Chair in Virology, University of Alberta

The former Dean of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Tyrrell is the Board Chair of the Institute of Health Economics. He is the CIHR/GlaxoSmithKline Chair in Virology at the University of Alberta. He is also Chair of the Gairdner Foundation and a member of the Research Council of the Canadian Institute of Academic Research. Dr. Tyrrell is a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He received the F.N.G. Starr Award from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in 2004, and the Principal Award of the Manning Foundation in 2005 for his work on the development of oral antivirals for the treatment of HBV. He was inducted into the CMA Hall of Fame in 2011.