The Health Leadership Academy (HLA) is keen on creating a community of innovators who are dedicated to furthering what it means to be a health leader. Looking locally and abroad, the HLA supports research initiatives which investigate areas of improvement in the current health landscape.


NEW for 2018 – 2019

Alongside the McMaster Health Forum, the Michael G. DeGroote’s Health Leadership Academy will work to identify what the alternative health futures will be and build a framework to better understand how leadership capabilities map onto these futures 10 years from now.

Alongside the McMaster Health Forum, a synthesis of health-system leadership frameworks and a provincial stakeholder dialogue will be conducted. Using these findings to inform our future work, it is anticipated that the development of a white paper and a health leadership assessment centre will be explored as a result of these discoveries.


The HLA is happy to provide fiscal support to qualified research initiatives through the use of grants, and is proud to announce the funding of four new research projects. Each 2016 grant recipient investigates a current healthcare issue from both a business and health perspective, encompassing our interdisciplinary tradition. View the funded projects below:

µLHIN for Applied eHealth Leadership

Drs. Thomas Doyle, Norm Archer, Reza Samavi, Cynthia Lokker

The complexity behind the delivery of healthcare services, policy, and technology must be better understood by our graduates if they are to become leaders in the evolving domain of digital health.  We propose to study Ontario’s local health integration networks (LHINs) and to develop our own micro-LHIN (µLHIN) sandbox that reflects the structure of services, policies, and technologies that our graduates will encounter.  In doing this, our graduates can develop a unique skillset and insight into the workings and analytics of all aspects of healthcare delivery. The µLHIN will be accessible via an online lab portal that the McMaster eHealth Graduate Program has developed.  The pedagogical efficacy of the µLHIN will be studied as a component of a proposed course in Telemedicine.  While a dissemination plan is outlined, the expectation is that this tool will serve as the platform for answering many new research questions around digital health and healthcare.

Development and Launch of the “Dance for Parkinson’s” Application on Microsoft’s Online Store

Dr. Matthew Woolhouse

The Dance for Parkinson’s (D4P) project, directed by Dr. Matthew Woolhouse, aims to create a technological screen-based dance application for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Based on choreography from the Dance for Parkinson’s classes held by the Hamilton City Ballet, the D4P application is designed to give users a realistic, virtual dance lesson in the comfort of their own homes. Utilizing the motion-sensing functionality of Microsoft’s KinectTM camera, the application adapts to users’ movement abilities in real time. To our knowledge, no commensurate system is available, putting our application at the forefront of humanistic research exploring the rehabilitation of PD using music and dance.

To date, two versions of the D4P application have been developed; Version #2 is currently being tested in the homes of PD patients in and around the Hamilton region. Funding from the Research RFP Protocol is requested to support development of Version #3 of the D4P application, and prepare it for launch on the online Microsoft Store. (Dr. Woolhouse has recently signed a Title License Agreement with Microsoft, which enables the application to be sold/distributed via the store.) This endeavour requires collaboration between Health Sciences, Business, Science, Engineering and Humanities. A majority of the requested funding targets two main goals: (1) to support three research assistants who will work together to assist in the creation and marketing of Version #3 of the D4P application; and (2) foster knowledge mobilization of the project through a journal publication and conference presentation.

In total, the project timeline spans December 2016 to August 2017. From December 2016 to April 2017, a fully funded pilot study using the current version of the system (Version #2) will be carried out involving 6 participants. Four measurements will evaluate the effectiveness of the system on symptom relief, and neurophysiology: (1) brain-iron content, blood-flow rates, and cortical thinning monitored using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (collaborator: Dr. Michael Noseworthy, Director of the Imaging Research Centre, St. Joseph’s Healthcare; Faculty of Engineering); (2) mobility and cognitive functioning assessed using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (collaborator: Dr. Rick Paulseth, Director of the Movement Disorders Clinic, St. Peter’s Hospital; Faculty of Health Sciences); (3) barriers to technology uptake determined via user feedback, including online surveys and face-to-face interviews; and (4) detailed movement benefits investigated using kinematic analysis of limb-body data recorded by the KinectTM camera. The project has ethics clearance (HiREB), enabling the team to work directly with PD patients.


Canada-Norway Research Collaboration on Operationalizing Experience-Drive Innovation through Integration of Peer Support in Health Systems

Drs. Gillian Mulvale, Karl-Johan Johansen, and co-investigators

We propose conducting an exploratory policy case study45 where the case is defined as the integration of formalized/intentional peer support services within clinical services located in hospital, primary care and community settings. Formalized/intentional peer support refers to peer support services (either group or one-to-one) focusing on issues such as education, employment, mental health systems navigation, systemic/individual advocacy, supported housing, food security, internet, transportation, recovery education, and antidiscrimination work.29 We will examine two sub-cases: peer support in Norway and in Ontario, Canada. These jurisdictions were selected because they are comparable in terms of socioeconomic development, embrace a recovery orientation, and are actively seeking to expand peer support in mental health service delivery, yet differ in important contextual factors, such as the policy climate and levers adopted to support implementation. Our data sources will include key informant interviews, surveys and published academic and grey literature. We will purposively sample the most common approaches to engagement of PSPs in adult mental health settings.

In Ontario, our recruitment strategy will focus on St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s (SJHH) inpatient, Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACTT) and outpatient clinic programs. In Norway, we will identify organizations that offer similar programs, including St. Olav’s Hospital Trondheim. Using a combination of focus groups and individual interviews, we will engage PSPs (6-10 in Canada and 4-6 in Norway), and individuals and families receiving peer support (6-10 in Canada and 4-6 in Norway), 5-10 front line staff (e.g. 2 psychiatrists, nursing, allied health professionals) and supervisors associated with each program1. We will also conduct individual interviews with 2-3 policy makers in each jurisdiction (e.g. in Canada the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network) (Table 1). We will tailor the focus group and interview guides to capture the perspectives of each participant type, but will explore common topics including: experience of providing/receiving peer support, barriers and facilitators to effective integration of PSPs46 (e.g. regulatory, funding, payment, organizational policies, team climate, information sharing, peer support and service delivery model) and change management approaches and implementation frameworks adopted. The survey (approx. 30 participants per sub-case) will focus on the influence of team climate on integration and functioning of PSPs.


Unproductive, unprofessional, and abusive behaviors in the clinical workplace: The influence of working environment on the development of future health leaders

Drs. Meredith Vanstone and Catherine Connelly

This mixed-methods research project will improve the education of medical learners (medical student clerks, resident physicians) and the professional development of clinical faculty by further developing our understanding of what constitutes mistreatment, abuse, and unproductive behaviours in the clinical workplace/learning environment. The findings from this two-year exploratory pilot project will contribute to the development of highly professional health leaders who build, lead and teach productive clinical teams. This project aims to examine different perspectives on workplace behaviour, asking “how do medical learners and faculty understand what constitutes mistreatment, abuse, and unproductive workplace behaviour? What barriers do they encounter to addressing these behaviours?” The results from this project will enable us to develop training materials that can be used in both clinical and educational settings, and to improve administrative processes and systems used to respond to these behaviours.