When I think about what the creation of the Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal (EIHR) Portal meant to me personally, what comes to mind – besides the huge excitement and sense of accomplishment – are hundreds of emails, creeping deadlines and some lack of sleep.. But upon further reflection, I realize how lucky I was to be part of such an innovative initiative that brought together students, researchers and Canadian health system stakeholders in a truly collaborative way.
I became involved in the project as I was studying towards my master’s of science degree in Global Health, and ended up writing my thesis on the development and contents of the EIHR Portal. However, the creation of the Portal was far from an individual effort. The Portal would not have come to fruition without the countless number of hours devoted by all the students at the Program in Policy Decision-making office, the staff at the McMaster Health Forum and the unwavering leadership of John Lavis. Perhaps most importantly, the creation of the Portal, initiated by a group called the Evidence-informed Healthcare Renewal Roundtable (consisting of more than 40 Canadian organizations), and managed by the McMaster Health Forum and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, also involved direct collaboration with 18 Canadian healthcare organizations, including Health Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and the Health Council of Canada, amongst others. If you think about it, it is truly a remarkable thing that 18 high-profile health organizations came together to offer their time and knowledge to this initiative, expressing their commitment to evidence-informed health policymaking.
After a whirlwind couple of months, the EIHR Portal (eihrportal.org) launched at the end of June 2012. The Portal is integrated into Health Systems Evidence and provides health system policymakers and stakeholders a one-stop-shop for the many types of policy-relevant documents that can support healthcare renewal in Canada, such as health and health system data, performance reviews, and stakeholder position papers. With the pending negotiations surrounding the 2003 Health Accord, I hope, and have faith, that the EIHR Portal will serve as a valuable resource for decision-makers looking to strengthen our healthcare system. In fact, I have already heard positive feedback from some of the collaborating organizations, stating that the Portal is “an incredible contribution to Canada”, which makes me realize that the significant effort leading up to the launch of the Portal was well worth it.
I am fortunate to be able to continue to work on the EIHR Portal and see it grow. What is even more exciting is that I have had the opportunity to help train other researchers in low- and middle-income countries interested in creating a similar one-stop-shop. As a M.Sc. Global Health graduate and proponent of knowledge translation, this is the ultimate reward.
There were many times throughout this experience when I thought there was no way we could accomplish what we set out to do, but time and time again I was proven wrong. And in the end, I realized that with the power of a clear vision, hard work, and the support of a remarkable team, the impossible becomes possible.
By Karolina Kowalewski