Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Ontario Telemedicine Network Inc. / OTN was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- Ontario Telemedicine Network helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan
- Ontario Telemedicine Network encourages ongoing professional development with tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions (to $2,000) as well as subsidies for professional accreditation
- Along with 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, Ontario Telemedicine Network employees receive additional paid time off during the summer months and winter holidays
Ontario Telemedicine Network makes work meaningful
If someone told you about a place to access healthcare in Ontario that receives some 3,000 visits a day - 1 million a year - would you be able to name it? No single hospital or doctor's clinic gets anywhere near that many, but the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), the province's fast-growing system for putting patients and providers together virtually, does it easily. And for employees, that's a major point of pride.
"We'd like every person in Ontario to have easy access to the best healthcare, whenever and wherever they need it," says CEO Edward Brown, a founder of what has become one of the biggest integrated telemedicine networks in the world. Since the provincially funded non-profit's inception in 2006, it has provided virtual access - usually on screen - for patients to consult medical experts remotely, often from far-flung parts of the province. Lately it has expanded into more services, such as home monitoring solutions, mental health support, messaging or video-consulting your own doctor, and helping general practitioners connect quickly with specialists.
To run all this, says Brown, requires "an eclectic mix" of people and skill sets, from change management experts working with doctors and other providers to help them understand and use the system, to technology specialists who keep the virtual connections working, plus a variety of other business and support roles.
"The thing they have in common is that they're all pretty passionate about what we do," he says, "because they can directly see how we're impacting people's lives. It's very meaningful work for people."
It's also a very collaborative environment, since "we don't actually deliver any of the healthcare," Brown notes. "We work with 3,700 organizations and 30,000 health providers who are members of our online service. We also try to empower our people to work together, and to be creative. It's a fun place to work."
More than half of the 250 staff work at OTN's University Avenue headquarters in downtown Toronto, with others working in offices in London, Timmins and Thunder Bay plus at least 25 home offices. "We walk the talk, since we are asking people to be virtual," says Brown. "So we have a great telework policy and I think people enjoy that."
As a User Experience Designer, Dexter Austria has appreciated many of those elements since arriving in March 2018. His digital design work helps make it easier for patients and providers to come together, particularly by making the system as accessible as possible.
Given his digital expertise, he could work in a lot of places. Why OTN? "Every day, I can see that the work I do is making a difference," he says. "People need better access to healthcare, they need a better patient experience and I'm helping make that happen."
It doesn't hurt that OTN also offers comprehensive employee benefits that include the defined-benefit Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and, for Austria, the option of working from home regularly. "I do it on Wednesdays," says Austria. "I enjoy the flexibility and I really do believe it increases my productivity."
Austria also got a chance to use his talents in a new online project supporting mental health, Big White Wall. People who register can anonymously share their thoughts and feelings with other users and get advice 24/7 from clinically trained staff about such issues as depression, anxiety or suicidal feelings. Austria says working on the project, often doing creative work outside his own mandate, allowed him to meet people from other teams across the organization.
"What I like about OTN is the people are very passionate in what they do, and they are subject-matter experts in each field," he says. "When I came in, I felt welcome and empowered to make the right decisions. There is mutual respect, because everyone's an expert."