Nordic-Canada Health Solutions Initiative

Promoting Nordic-Canada innovation

Jan Walker Nordic Trip

When asked about how she feels to represent Canada on an international journey, Jan Walker, West Park's CIO and Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, hesitates with a nervous thrill.

“It’s daunting. But, it’s exciting. I’m proud of the opportunity that’s been given to us.”

That opportunity, afforded to West Park by its evolving relationship with Innovation Norway and the Nordic nations, is Walker’s upcoming trip to three Scandinavian countries—to represent not only West Park, but Canada as a whole.

The trip, organized by Innovation Norway as part of the Nordic Projects and in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, will take Walker to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, starting on November 17, 2018.

There, she will not only gain valuable knowledge about healthcare and innovation in Scandinavia, but also have the opportunity to spread awareness about West Park and the Canadian healthcare system.

“This experience will expose us to Scandinavian innovators and can introduce unique partnerships for us. At the very least, we can play a role as facilitators for them to break into the Canadian market,” Walker says.

She will also host three workshops and a special evening session to talk about West Park. The topics will include the hospital’s identity, vision, innovation, and campus development.

One particular visit of interest to Walker is Sunnaas Hospital, a rehabilitation hospital similar to West Park near Oslo, Norway. Sunnaas is notable for its specialization and innovation, among other things, says Walker.

“Norway has an advanced innovation agenda within its healthcare system,” Walker says. “In addition, it has a culture that is similar to Canada’s.”

The voyage will advance West Park’s strategic priorities and expand our reach beyond Canadian borders. After developing a relationship with Nordic innovators AblyMed and Motitech in 2016, the hospital was introduced to Innovation Norway, who organized visits by Norway’s Minister of Health and Care Services, as well as the Norwegian Standing Committee on Health and Care Services, to the hospital earlier this year.

All of these events contributed to West Park being selected to send a delegate to Scandinavia.

Scandinavia is not just exciting for the exposure to foreign healthcare systems, Walker says.

“I’m excited to see the fjords—the beauty of the countryside—and, maybe, to see some Viking memorabilia.”

Where's Walker?

Walker will also be blogging about her visits to Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen, sharing stories about the innovations, people and qualities that make Scandinavia unique.

She will also leave West Park’s mark on the Nordic countries in an entirely different way—by hiding West Park–branded objects for a GPS-based treasure hunt. This activity, also known as Geocaching, will invite participants in Scandinavia to look for these objects by following GPS coordinates that Walker will supply on her blog.

To follow along, visit the blog here.