Much More than a Hospital

Toronto’s SickKids is Canada’s most research-focused hospital and the largest centre in the country dedicated to the improvement of children’s health. At the helm of its increasingly important IT department is Daniela Crivianu-Gaita, SickKids’ vice president and CIO, who often puts in as many as 14 hours a day to ensure that the hospital’s services run as smoothly as possible for the thousands of children it treats every year. PHOTO: Robert Teteruck

Advancements in medicine and research have made the Hospital for Sick Children one of the world’s most respected institutions

Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is so much more than a hospital, and Daniela Crivianu-Gaita’s roles as vice president and CIO are so much more complex than the titles imply. Upon graduating from university in Romania, Crivianu-Gaita lent her technological expertise to various industries for three years before becoming exposed to IT in the health-care field, which she says she immediately “fell in love with.”

“The health informatics field has so many complexities, and it provides whoever works in it with the ability to make a difference in the life of others,” she says. “When I began looking for other job opportunities, three different organizations offered me a job in Canada, but I chose SickKids because I felt connected the moment I walked into the organization’s doors. I felt so impressed by the dedication of everyone.”

By the Numbers

3 million
Children under the age of 19 that eCHN services

1,573
Volunteers

1875
Year SickKids was founded

1,000+
Professionals employed by the SickKids Research Institute, many of whom are considered the world’s top scientists

1954
Founding of the SickKids Research Institute, the largest hospital-based research facility in Canada

For 14 years now, Crivianu-Gaita has been doing the work she loves at Canada’s most research-focused hospital and the largest centre in the country dedicated to children’s health. SickKids has become an international leader in childhood health because it integrates research and learning into its care practices, and it’s Crivianu-Gaita’s daily goal to provide the health IT solutions the organization needs for excellent patient care, education, and research.

“To make this happen, it means that on a daily basis I have to be a strategic partner for the entire senior management team; be a champion for innovation; be a champion for data and system integrity; and be an enterprise leader that builds high-performing teams,” Crivianu-Gaita explains. “It’s not very glamourous—it’s taking meeting after meeting, answering constant e-mails, and reviewing a lot of documents—but I love it, and I’m surrounded by others who love what they do and believe in the work they’re doing.”

Crivianu-Gaita is quite humble, but her role at the hospital is crucial to SickKids’ success. As VP and CIO, she spends between 12 and 14 hours a day in her office, because in the fast-paced, rapidly changing environment that is an academic pediatric-tertiary-care facility, technology plays a huge role.

“IT is the bridge between research and clinical practice and improved outcomes,” she says. “IT plays a foundational role in every aspect of the delivery of care. I always look at challenges as opportunities, so my biggest opportunities are learning something new every day and thinking outside the box—because the expectation of me, from the organization, is to deliver technology solutions and services with strategic value. My goal is to transform the delivery of care to children and improve patient outcomes.”

View of the atrium at SickKids.
View of the atrium at SickKids.

The hard work of SickKids’ IT department hasn’t gone unnoticed. Crivianu-Gaita counts the 2010 WOW Factor award obtained through Quest for Canada’s Smartest IT competition as one of her proudest achievements with the organization. The award honours organizations that use innovative IT, and in making their decision, the independent award panel made reference to SickKids’ leadership on the development and implementation of the electronic Child Health Network (eCHN) as a tool to help health-care providers across the province exchange medical information critical to children’s health. eCHN is Ontario’s only fully functioning pediatric electronic health-records system, serving three million children under the age of 19.

Moving forward, the eCHN solution is something Crivianu-Gaita plans to not only improve but build out. The VP and CIO says that she, her colleagues, and her teams will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and eHealth Ontario to transform eCHN into a comprehensive tool that will improve and support the health-care system.

“Our mission says it all: As innovators in child health, we lead and partner to improve the health of children provincially, nationally, and internationally through the integration of care, research, and education,” Crivianu-Gaita says. “This is our goal every day, and you can tell that everyone knows why they are here—to go the extra mile to help the children and young people who come to us.”