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New chair at Health Tech Advisory Committee

Shirlee SharkeyTORONTO – Dr. Andreas Laupacis, Chair of the Board of Directors of Health Quality Ontario (HQO), has announced the appointment of Shirlee Sharkey (pictured) as the new Chair of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC). OHTAC is a standing advisory committee of HQO’s Board that reviews evidence and makes recommendations to the government and health system about the uptake, diffusion, distribution or removal of health interventions.

Ms. Sharkey succeeds former OHTAC Chair Dr. Charles Wright, who announced his retirement in January. “I would like to thank Dr. Wright for his diligent and visionary leadership, and his commitment to health system improvement,” says Dr. Laupacis. “OHTAC – and Ontario’s health care system as a whole – has benefited greatly from Charles’ direction, and we are confident that OHTAC will continue to thrive under Shirlee Sharkey’s leadership. Her commitment, skills and energy will be an asset to the position of Chair.”

“I am very honoured to have been appointed Chair of OHTAC,” says Ms. Sharkey. “In my role as Vice-Chair, I am extremely proud of all the work our group has been able to accomplish and I look forward to continuing our focus and direction. It is such an exciting time to be involved in health technology; advancements are moving with lightning speed, and we look forward to being able to review new and emerging technologies to improve not only patient outcomes, but also healthcare from a system perspective.”

Health Quality Ontario has traditionally attracted strong leaders from Ontario’s healthcare system to serve as members of OHTAC, and the appointment of Ms. Sharkey continues that tradition.

She is also the President and CEO of Saint Elizabeth Health Care, a Canadian healthcare leader and social innovator. In 2010, Ms. Sharkey received the Innovation Award for Healthcare Leadership from the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Her predecessor Dr. Wright is a professor, physician, and medical affairs consultant, as well as a recipient of the Emmett Hall Memorial Foundation Award for research and service to the Canadian healthcare system. Dr. Wright served as the Chair of OHTAC since February 1, 2012.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to chair this quite extraordinary committee,” said Dr. Wright. “Without reservation I have to say that OHTAC is the most interesting, educational, humbling, stimulating and effective committee that I have encountered in my 50 years of clinical, research and administrative involvement in the healthcare system.”

OHTAC applies a unique decision determinants framework when making its recommendations that considers the overall clinical benefit, value for money, societal and ethical considerations, and economic and organizational feasibility of the intervention. OHTAC marked its 10th anniversary in October 2013, making more than 130 recommendations that have supported the transformation and sustainability of Ontario’s healthcare system during the past decade.

“Charles was responsible for taking OHTAC through a transformative process while further enhancing its credibility. He is a passionate advocate for the Canadian health system, the quality of patient care and a strong proponent of the importance of evidence in decision making at all levels,” said Dr. Les Levin, Vice President of Evidence Development and Standards at HQO. “We have indeed been privileged to benefit from his leadership and we will continue to benefit from his outstanding contributions.”

To learn more about the work of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee or about Health Quality Ontario, please visit www.hqontario.ca.

About HQO
Health Quality Ontario (HQO) is an arms-length agency of the Ontario government, mandated to evaluate the effectiveness of new healthcare technologies and services, report to the public on the quality of the healthcare system, support quality improvement activities and make evidence-based recommendations on healthcare funding. Visit www.hqontario.ca for more information.

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