Damian Jankowicz moves crosstown to Unity Health
November 1, 2023
TORONTO – Damian Jankowicz (pictured) joined Unity Health Toronto in October as an executive vice president and its first chief information and AI officer. At Unity Health, he will steward major technological transformations as the organization implements a new electronic patient record throughout the network and continues to grow its cutting-edge AI team.
Unity Health Toronto is a large, downtown healthcare network that includes St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Providence Healthcare. Unity Health Toronto
Before joining Unity Health, he was based at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where he helped establish the Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics – a centre focused on AI, mental health and brain research – and received awards for the hospital’s electronic health record.
While Jankowicz is well-schooled and experienced in the use of information technology, he says that he’s propelled forward each day by the people he works with.
“My colleagues are what inspire me most,” Jankowicz said. “My clinical colleagues save and transform lives every single day. My research colleagues are shaping the future of care. My education colleagues are training the next crop of healthcare professionals. My corporate colleagues could work anywhere but choose to work in healthcare because of the impact they can have.”
With nearly a decade of experience as an executive leader, Jankowicz brings a wealth of experience to his new role.
He told Unity Health’s Robyn Cox that three factors excited him about joining Unity Health.
“First of all, this is a world renowned hospital system – one of the largest healthcare networks in Canada – with an incredible mission to provide the best care experiences for truly everyone, including society’s most marginalized populations. That scope of impact and inspiring mission was one of my key decision points.”
The second factor was Project Connect. Implementing an electronic patient record project on such a large scale – as Unity Health is – can be challenging but is ultimately extremely rewarding. The project will truly transform the care Unity Health provides now and for many years to come.
And finally, Jankowicz said he’s excited about Unity Health’s leadership in the AI space. “I admire the vision that Muhammad Mamdani [VP of Data Science and Advanced Analytics at Unity Health] has for applied health AI and the work he and the teams across Unity Health have done to improve patient care with AI. Muhammad and I have worked together in the same space for years now and I look forward to collaborating with him to support our AI efforts.”
Jankowicz said he was introduced to AI as an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, where he took his first neural networks class with Geoffrey Hinton – one of the godfathers of AI. “His impact has truly changed my life trajectory. I was so inspired by the possibilities that I couldn’t think of doing anything else. I went on to study AI and neural networks and received my PhD.”
He added, “I genuinely believe that AI will transform society. It’s already happening in the background – and some of it is happening before of our eyes. The impact on health care will be profound. It will also come with risks around bias, fairness and privacy, which we will have to take very seriously and manage carefully.”
Jankowicz said his top priority will be Project Connect. “It is a massive clinical transformation that will require – as we’re already seeing – a tremendous effort from the entire network. I’m getting up to speed and injecting some of my experience into the project.
“My other priority is to get to know Unity Health Toronto. I’m meeting people from the different sites and connecting with a large range of clinical, research, education and corporate staff.
“Lastly, coming back to the topic of AI, the field of AI is transforming so quickly that we really can’t take our foot off the gas. I will continue to get to know the colleagues who are doing great AI work here already. We will learn from each other, continue to position ourselves and drive that overarching AI strategy for the network.