OMD Blog/Article: 2022 Luminary Award Winner Story – Dr. Howard Cohen

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By Kathy Tudor, Director, Communications & Marketing, OntarioMD

Ontario’s doctors inspire me every day. I see their dedication to their patients whenever I use the health care system. I read about the immense workload they face. We, at OntarioMD (OMD), hear their feedback on technology. Doctors and their staff have managed to provide excellent patient care despite the many challenges they face. That’s why the OntarioMD (OMD) team wanted to honour the doctors and their staff who rise above the challenges by thinking of ways to make things better for their patients and their practices using technology. We started the OMD Luminary Awards in 2020 to formally recognize these innovative, creative, and hard-working individuals and teams. We’ve gathered some amazing stories from the 2022 winners and are proud to share them with our health care colleagues.

Dr. Howard Cohen is our first 2022 OMD Luminary Award winner. His was the first digital health success story to cross my desk last year. Dr. Cohen retired from his practice as a family physician at the Carling Broadview FHO in Ottawa in June 2022. Before he retired, he was very active in palliative and complex care in the home setting in his community. He wanted to continue to work in the community after retirement. I was intrigued. Here was a doctor dedicated to his profession who wanted to continue working with vulnerable patients instead of enjoying his retirement. I had to know more.

What makes Dr. Cohen’s story so inspiring is his constant dedication to advocating for the needs of his patients, his colleagues, and his community. When the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) and the Coroner’s Office both issued a policy in 2019 mandating all notes to be in electronic format, Dr. Cohen was still working in palliative and complex care. He acted by contacting the CPSO to explain the complexities of community care and how difficult it would be to move to an electronic format. According to the CPSO, he was the only physician to contact them about this issue. A compromise solution was suggested by the CPSO for documenting encounter notes in the home setting. The CPSO and the coroner’s office were alerted to the issues being faced by community physicians.

Dr. Cohen later faced a similar challenge when he decided to work in more than one retirement residence. While he was practicing family medicine, he actively used his TELUS PS EMR. The retirement residences did not have consistent, common technology and they didn’t have a certified EMR. Dr. Cohen couldn’t imagine practicing in the community without a certified EMR. He wanted to get hospital reports, lab test results, and COVID-19 vaccination information for his patients as well as access to many other useful features an EMR can provide. So, he got himself a certified EMR and set it up. Full disclosure – Dr. Cohen worked with an OMD Advisor for support and to get his EMR connected to the provincial systems to get the reports, lab results, etc.

Other doctors would have perhaps had second thoughts about whether to try and find a technology solution or go with paper. Not Dr. Cohen. He is a huge advocate of digital health technologies and is leading the way for other doctors in Ontario community settings, be it Long-Term Care, retirement residences, or home settings to adopt technology. Dr. Cohen continues to advocate with a previous lead doctor for long-term care in Ontario to encourage EMR use in long-term care to enhance patient care. He also provided his input into the Canadian Safety Association’s (CSA) preliminary report on Long-Term Care.

Doctors need digital health tools in every practice setting, including long-term care homes, retirement residences, and client homes, and they need support to make effective use of the tools. It’s a question of health equity and this makes Dr. Cohen a digital health champion and one of our Luminary Award winners. OMD applauds his outstanding contribution to advance digital health!

Watch this space for more stories about the Luminary Award winners! They are remarkable!

If you need help with technology and you practice in a community, contact We’d be happy to help you! 

Are you a digital health champion and have gone above and beyond in your practice to make technology your friend? OMD will open the 2023 Luminary Award nominations in a few months. Find out when by signing up for our Digital Health eTips newsletter.

For other tips, questions about EMRs and support with digital health and virtual care tools for your practice, contact and connect with OMD’s expert staff and clinician Peer Leaders. OMD can help you with whatever you need! Join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments field below.

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