Message from Co-Chairs – Judy Birdsell and Charlie Fischer

Hello!  In addition to our two very important initiatives – Healthcare 101 and the Primary Health Care Engagement Project – here is an update about what we’ve been doing at IMAGINE:

  •  We are incorporating IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health as a not-for-profit. Three years ago, we came together as a group of Albertans with two passions. First, we wanted to shape a health-care system that achieves the best possible experiences and outcomes for patients. And second, we wanted to help citizens and other stakeholders to work together to make that happen.

The response has shown clearly that there is a role for an independent, citizen-led entity. Because of our status as an informal group of citizens, we have limited ability to reach out and help citizens connect with one another and collaborate with others.

We want to be able to look for opportunities to advance our influence. And we want to support citizens in their drive to participate more formally in health-care reform.

Establishing IMAGINE as a not-for-profit will formalize the organization’s structure and function. As a not-for-profit, we can be recognized across the health-care landscape as an organization that has stability. Based on our mission, vision and values, we will be able to seek out and receive grant funds. Those grants will in turn allow us to engage citizens in strategic co-design opportunities.

  •  We are involved with several digital health initiatives. Access to our own complete health information, regardless of where care occurs, is one of IMAGINE’s key priorities. Digital health can help us have that kind of access.

Fundamental to our decision to include digital health as a strategic priority, IMAGINE launched Citizens for Digital Health (C4DH) in 2017. This group has worked to reach out and collaborate with entrepreneurs and patients with both expertise and experience in digital health.

Also, several IMAGINE volunteers are involved in system-level digital health initiatives led by Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services. These initiatives will have critical implications for Albertans. They will influence both how we experience care as patients, and how we can play a central role as partners in our own health decision-making.

  • IMAGINE understands that health care begins at home and in our communities. For most of us, the team that provides the point of first contact – our family physician and his or her colleagues – is critical. We have identified working closely with those who provide that care in the community as an essential direction for us. We have had very interesting and informative meetings with several primary health-care teams around the province, and look forward to identifying projects we can work on together.

We’d love to have many more Albertans involved with IMAGINE! We firmly believe that, as Albertans, we need to be very knowledgeable about how our health-care system works.

We need to be active partners in making care safer, more effective at producing better outcomes, and more receptive to including the perspectives of patients, families and communities.

To that end, we are organizing sessions in several locations across the province. The first session will be in Calgary on Saturday, April 28th. You’ll find more details about the session here.

We invite those of you interested in learning more about IMAGINE to share your thoughts. Come participate and shape the activities that interest you.

We look forward to welcoming you.