Smart Systems for Health Agency ended its five-month search for a new leader Monday, bringing a former EDS Canada executive on board to lead its turnaround strategy.

The board of SSHA said it had chosen Bill Alino as CEO. He starts work this week. Albino, who also held management positions at Xerox Canada and a number of startups, replaces Michael Connolly, a founding executive at the agency who resigned last September. Since then, SSHA has been managed by Michael Lauber, a board member who stepped down to serve as acting CEO. Lauber will now reassume his position on the board.

“The board has one employee, and that one employee is the CEO,” SSHA spokesperson Danny Faria said. “The CEO then hires and manages the staff.”

The SHHA is involved with a range of activities that include identity management, portal services and securing e-mail. Albino is joining the SSHA at a time when its role in fostering e-health initiatives across the province has come under heavy criticism. Last month consulting firm Deloitte published an in-depth critique of the agency’s track record, achievements and practices. It concluded, among other things, that it has no strategic plan, little visibility or support from other health-care organizations and inadequate security.

In a recent interview with Computing Canada, Lauber suggested that finding the right leader was critical to making sure the SSHA’s efforts to improve its reputation proceed as planned. He also acknowledged Deloitte’s assessment that its mission is crippled by restrictions imposed on it by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

“We’re working with the Ministry of Health on the differences between us and getting those straightened out,” he said. “The key thing is by the fall we can have this place in good working order. Then we just embark (on our goals).”

The SSHA has recently set up a change management office, led by senior executives, that will report to a board committee and to Albino.

“Ultimately we may want to be an ISO- certified organization but there’s a lot of more specific accreditations — data centre and so forth — and we’re focused on all those,” Lauber said.

Albino could not be reached at press time but in a statement described the SSHA’s goals a “difficult but exciting.”

SSHA has installed more than 1,700 circuits to connect public hospitals, public health units, community care access centres, doctors and other health care provider, as well as provisioning two data centres where it can host 19 applications. Last year, it connected the last Ontario hospital to the Ontario Network for e-Health, or ONE Network, which was extended to the shores of James Bay through an arrangement with K-Net Services.

— With files from Kathleen Sibley

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