Loss of Ontario telehealth pioneer and leader
July 8, 2020
TORONTO – Dr. Robert M. Filler, M.D. (pictured), an esteemed surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children and a pioneer in the use and development of telehealth in Ontario, died July 2 at the age of 89.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Dr. Filler received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1952.
He graduated cum laude in 1956 from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. A distinguished pediatric surgeon, first at Harvard Medical School, Children’s Hospital in Boston and then in Toronto, where he served an unprecedented 18-year term as the Surgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital for Sick Children.
He became Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, Emeritus at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Filler was an active member in more than a dozen prestigious Canadian and International medical societies and has published more than 170 scientific articles and 80 book chapters that illustrate his vast medical expertise. He held a six-year governorship in the American College of Surgeons and was elected President of the American Pediatric Surgical Association in 1991.
He is known for his many contributions to the surgical treatment of infants and children. He is recognized as an expert in the separation of Siamese Twins. In 1979, he performed an innovative operation at The Hospital for Sick Children on Herbie Quinones from New York. The publicity from this operation helped establish the Herbie Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children to help children with serious health problems from around the world.
In 1995 he initiated a Telemedicine program at Sick Kids, the first in Ontario. He was a founding member of the Canadian Society of Telehealth in 1998 and served as its President from 2000 to 2002. In 2006, the Ministry of Health started the Ontario Telemedicine Network, a province-wide telemedicine network which encompasses more than 600 sites. Dr. Filler served as the first Chairman of the Board until 2009.
His community activities have included long term memberships on the Clinical Research Advisory Committee for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Director of the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities, and Governor of Variety Village.
His name is included in the publication Best Doctors in America and International Who’s Who in Medicine, and Canadian Who’s Who. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal by the U.S. Army for his treatment of Vietnamese children during his one year tour of duty as a military surgeon during the Vietnam War.
In his career he has been honoured by many awards including the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Variety Club’s Sir James Carreras’ Award, and the Alumni Achievement Award, Washington University School of Medicine. The Hospital for Sick Children has established an endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery in his name. In 1995 he was awarded the Order of Ontario.
To learn more about his distinguished career, please go to robertfiller.com.