IHE Innovation Forum XV - High Needs & High Cost Patients in Healthcare

High Needs & High Cost Patients: Key People

Speaker Biographies

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Clemens Hong, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Community Health Improvement, Community Health & Integrated Programs, County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services

Dr. Hong is a primary care physician and the Medical Director of Community Health Improvement at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. His work centers on approaches to improving population health for vulnerable populations through primary care and community health delivery models. At LA County, he is working to strengthen delivery integration across County and community-based health delivery entities and to better address social and behavioral determinants of health. He is helping to lead the county’s response to the Whole Person Care Pilot within the MediCal (California Medicaid) 2020 Waiver, a $3 billion, 5-year program to improve health delivery to the sickest, most vulnerable MediCal beneficiaries.

Dr. Hong is also the co-founder of Anansi Health, an organization with the mission to support widespread adoption of CHW-integrated models through training and technical assistance. Using Anansi tools and principles, he is supporting the integration of CHWs into primary care-integrated, intensive care management teams in Los Angeles County.

As a health services researcher, Dr. Hong has focused on incentive-based payment programs, primary care risk stratification approaches, transitional and primary care models for individuals returning to the community from prisons, complex care management programs for high-cost, high-need individuals, and the integration of community health workers (CHWs) onto care teams.

Dr. Richard Lewanczuk
Senior Medical Director, Provincial Primary Health Care, Alberta Health Services; Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta

Dr. Lewanczuk obtained his MD from the University of Alberta in 1983. He then completed Internal Medicine specialization and entered a combined Endocrinology Fellowship/PhD in Medical Sciences at the University of Alberta, which he completed in 1992. This was followed by post-doctoral studies in Montreal, Detroit, and New York. In 1994, Dr. Lewanczuk returned to the University of Alberta as a member of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, of which he was Director from 1998-2006. Currently, Dr. Lewanczuk is a Professor in both the Departments of Medicine and Physiology.

Dr. Lewanczuk assumed the role of Medical Director for Chronic Disease Management for Capital Health in 2007. With the inception of Alberta Health Services, he became Senior Medical Director for Primary Health Care. In this portfolio, he oversees all primary care activities for the Province of Alberta, as well as service delivery in areas that include chronic disease, and community and rural health care.

Dr. Lewanczuk is active in research with over 300 published papers and abstracts. He has published widely and carried out clinical trials in the areas of diabetes, hypertension, chronic disease management, and therapeutic natural products, as well as in the area of drug-disease interactions. His current research centers around the interactions between physical activity, obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular function in children, as well as in the area of drug-disease interactions.


Ms. Robyn Blackadar
President and CEO, Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research

Ms. Robyn Blackadar has over 20 years of experience in Alberta’s social and health system focusing on policy development and analysis, quality improvement, knowledge mobilization, and data system innovation.

Appointed in September 2012 as President and CEO, Ms. Blackadar is responsible for strategic and operational leadership of the Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research (The Centre). She oversees The Centre’s generation and mobilization of evidence for child and family well-being through a collaborative cross-sector approach between government, academia, and the community. Ms. Blackadar leads the team responsible for the analysis of linked administrative data from all child and youth serving ministries through the Child and Youth Data Laboratory.

She provides strategic advisory support to provincial initiatives such as the Early Childhood Development Research and Innovation Strategy, Alberta Mentoring Partnership, Building an Inclusive Education System, Addictions and Mental Health Strategy and the Maternal Newborn Youth and Child Strategic Clinical Network. Ms. Blackadar holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Calgary, an MBA from the University of Alberta, and an adjunct appointment in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta.

Dr. Alan Casson, MB ChB MSc FRCSC
Interim Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Standards, Quality and Performance and Senior Provincial Medical Advisor, Ministry of Health, Government of Alberta

Dr. Alan Casson is the interim Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Standards, Quality and Performance and also the Senior Provincial Medical Advisor with the Ministry of Health, Government of Alberta, a position he has held since 2013.

Born in Birmingham England, he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MB,ChB) from the University of Manchester in 1981. Dr. Casson completed a rotating internship and residency in General Surgery at Memorial University (NL) and then trained in cardiovascular- thoracic and general thoracic surgery at the University of Western Ontario, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada (FRCSC) in 1988. After training in molecular biology research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre (Houston TX), he returned to Canada in 1991 as an academic thoracic surgeon, with a subspecialty clinical practice in esophageal cancer and an active basic science and translational molecular oncology research program. He has received funding from the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and has published over 125 scientific and medical research papers.

In 1998 Dr Casson was appointed Professor and Head of the newly-established Division of Thoracic Surgery at Dalhousie University and the Director of Surgical Oncology for Cancer Care Nova Scotia. In 2006, he moved to Saskatoon as the Professor and Chair of the Unified Department of Surgery at the University of Saskatchewan, with subsequent administrative appointments as Vice President of Acute Care and Integrated Health Services in the Saskatoon Health Region.

He joined the Alberta Ministry of Health in June 2013.

Ms. Michelle Craig
Acting Executive Director, Addiction and Mental Health Branch, Health Services Division, Alberta Health

Ms. Craig is Acting Executive Director of the Addiction and Mental Health Branch of Alberta Health. She has extensive experience directing and providing strategic leadership in many initiatives supporting quality improvement, service integration and system transformation. Currently, Ms. Craig is leading the response to the Valuing Mental Health Report.


Mr. Truman Severson
Vice President, Innovation and Business Development, Covenant Health

Mr. Severson is Vice-President, Innovation and Business Development at Covenant Health – a role he assumed in March 2012. In this capacity, he has had key involvement in Covenant Health’s strategic initiatives that are focused on seniors, such as the development of new continuing care facilities and the launch of the Network of Excellence in Seniors Health and Wellness. Covenant Health is Canada’s largest Catholic healthcare provider. While providing a full spectrum of care from birth to end-of-life, Covenant’s unique focus is on those most vulnerable: Seniors, Mental Health and Addictions, Palliative End-of-Life, and Rural Care.

Mr. Severson’s education includes an MBA from Royal Roads (2012), a BSW from the University of Calgary (1993) and a BA - Religious Studies (1989) from the University of Alberta. He is the current Board Chair for the Alberta Continuing Care Association.

Ms. Heather Sweet
MLA, Edmonton-Manning

Ms. Sweet was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, representing the constituency of Edmonton-Manning, in May 2015. In March 2016, she was elected as the Deputy Chair of Committees. She previously served as chair of the Standing Committee on Families and Communities and as member of the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices.

Prior to serving with the Legislative Assembly, Ms. Sweet worked for over a decade as a registered social worker. From 2005 to 2015 she worked in child protection services, focusing on high-risk youth, and previous to this, she worked for a year with the Metis Child and Family Services Society. She was also a member of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees' Committee on Political Action and served as chapter chair for Edmonton and Area Human Services workers.

Active in her community, Ms. Sweet has volunteered at the Vancouver Olympics and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and with FIFA Edmonton.

She was recently honoured to be among those selected to attend the Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference in 2015.

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, OC, AOE, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRSC, FCAHS
Chair, Institute of Health Economics
Professor and Director, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta

The former Dean of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Tyrrell is the Board Chair of the Institute of Health Economics and Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the University of Alberta. He is also Chair of the Gairdner Foundation and a member of the Research Council of the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR). Dr. Tyrrell is a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He received the F.N.G. Starr Award from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in 2004, and the Principal Award of the Manning Foundation in 2005 for his work on the development of oral antivirals for the treatment of HBV. He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2015, he received the Killam Prize for Health Sciences from the Canadian Council for the Arts.