Nationwide Neighbourhood Care

By putting patients at the center of attention, CFO Avi Barkin and CBI Health Group are aligning health care with a commitment to community

There are few industries more rife with potential for innovation than the Canadian health-care system. As CFO of Toronto-based CBI Health Group, Avi Barkin is at the forefront of steering game-changing, interdisciplinary health-service collaboration and highly effective patient-focused care.


Joins Price Waterhouse (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers)

Is hired by by PWC client, Crown Cork & Seal Canada (now Crown Holdings)

Becomes CFO of Crown Holdings

Joins AMCOR, a plastics manufacturing company, as Americas division senior vice president of finance and CFO

Begins role at housewares retailer Benix & Co (now Bowring)

Follows executive search offering to join CBI Health Group

What started more than 40 years ago as a health-education service by renowned surgeon Dr. Hamilton Hall has grown into a cross-Canada entity of 9,500-plus employees and more than $450 million in revenue. CBI leverages a vast network of rehabilitation and home-health-care specialists to bundle services around patients with complex medical-care needs. By putting patients at the centre of its service model, CBI brings care to community and community to care, measuring success with detailed data tracking and an operations system that frees practitioners to do what they do best: practice their specialties in service to patients.

Barkin joined CBI in 2007, making the move from a career in financial management for the financial services, industrial manufacturing, and retail industries. After an executive-search firm found him and convinced him of the opportunity at CBI, he made the move. “Health care is more aligned to my values,” Barkin says. “I accepted an invitation to make an impact in shaping health-care standards in Canada and support an organization that can affect the industry landscape.”

Canadian demographics are changing dramatically, with a population that is aging but living longer and a public more informed about diseases and how to treat them. Canadians will see a lot of change in the way health care is delivered, including more family involvement and advancements in technology. “We at CBI expect to be at the forefront of these changes, to help shape and improve care standards and service models that are customized to the changing landscape, bringing care out of the hospital and into the home or congregate settings,” Barkin says.

When faced with the aftermath of a debilitating traffic accident or the ravages of aging, patients and their physicians have to navigate through a complex health-care system that is not only provincially regulated but also siloed by specialty. CBI helps patients get to the proper network of care providers faster by leveraging its long-standing relationships with physicians, health-care providers, and insurers, letting its reputation for success do the talking. “Our focus isn’t on marketing—we continue to create more value to patients and the referral sources that aggregate patients,” Barkin says. With an 18 percent compound annual growth rate between 1999 and 2014, the approach has proven effective.



Facility leases in CBI’s
stable of service locations


Patient visits served by
CBI annually


Pounds of food donated to local food banks since 2004


Employees at CBI

In addition to its patient-centric service model, CBI also brings focus to internal processes and operations with technology that allow its professionals to focus on patient care as much as possible, with minimal administrative roadblocks. “We’re very successful in a tough industry,” Barkin says. “We are rigorous and disciplined when it comes to the way we manage our cases. We allow the people at the clinics to focus on customers, ensuring they have the tools they need with centralized back-office functionality, payroll, IT, training, and education.”

CBI’s great results are bolstered by a corporate culture that encourages and rewards entrepreneurial and innovative thinking. It has been on Deloitte’s list of Canada’s Best Managed companies since 2007. In 2012, CBI was listed as one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures, according to Waterstone Capital, and in 2013, CEO Christopher Szybbo won Entrepreneur of the Year from Ernst & Young. “I work among high-performance people, where we are encouraged to speak up in a culture of a good, collaborative process,” Barkin says.

The ecosystem inside and outside CBI is nurtured to enhance community health and strength, with roots lying in regular charity efforts, donations to local food banks, and team sponsorships. Relationships are kept strong—from a target of zero dropped calls in CBI’s call centre to solid investor and lender relationships. “As a financial guy,” Barkin says, “I understand what our objectives are in communities, so I help with spending money in the right places.”