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Joan Edgecumbe was one of HISA’s founding members and over HISA’s 25-year history she occupied the role of Executive Officer, committee member and Board member, until her retirement in 2011.

She worked at The Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne for over 40 years, and until her retirement in 2015, she was part of the eHealth Education team.

Joan’s outstanding contribution to Australia’s digital health community through her knowledge, and drive for health informatics was documented in this brief history developed to celebrate HISA’s 25th anniversary in 2018.

On the announcement of Joan’s passing HISA’s inbox was flooded with messages of condolence and reflections on people’s memories of Joan. The messages have been so touching that we thought they deserved to be read by many. So we encourage you to submit any thoughts on this page. We will make sure they are passed on to Joan’s family.


If you have any kind words, stories or lessons regarding Joan you would like to share, please feel free.


  1. Val

    Goodbye Joan x

    • Di Millen (UK)

      I met Joan several times at IMIA and AMIA meetings during the early part of my health informatics (workforce development, UK) career. She inspired me through her words and actions to stick with it even when it felt like a hopeless cause. She was a great role model. Thanks, Joan, for your insights, tenacity and great sense of fun.

  2. Louise Schaper

    Like many, I owe my ‘start’ in health informatics to Joan. When she was running HISA, I emailed her and asked if she would consider allowing me to attend a HISA conference for free as a student volunteer in exchange for me stuffing satchels, name-tags or whatever jobs I could help with. She said yes straight away and it was at that event 15 years ago that my career and lifelong obsession with health informatics started.

    Joan was always so welcoming and as the photos on this page demonstrate – always had a massive smile on her face (when she wasn’t yelling at a computer at HISA HQ :-).

    When I became the CEO, Joan spent countless hours mentoring me, filling me in on what had come before and what she felt I needed to know. I recall one day not long after I had started when there were so many stories and memories shared that we spoke for over 5 hours straight.

    For those of us around pre-2011, there was no HISA without Joan. Joan didn’t even need a last name, as her name was synonymous with HISA and with NIA. Joan was one of the founders of HISA in the early 1990s and served as HISA’s Executive Officer and then Board Director for almost all of HISA’s history. She was a tireless advocate for health informatics and worked her butt off turning HISA from concept to reality. She would not shy from controversy but even those who had disagreements with Joan would acknowledge that she absolutely loved HISA. It was her world for many years and she cared deeply and passionately about building a community where health informatics would prosper and grow.

    Thank you Joan, for all you gave to HISA, health informatics and nursing informatics. I will always be grateful that you trusted ‘your baby’ in my hands and I hope you are proud of how the community continues to prosper in your wake.

  3. Marion Ball (USA)

    I was saddened to hear of the death of our dear friend Joan. Joan has meant so much to the entire Informatics community.

    What she has done not only for the nursing informatics community but, in deed, to promote health informatics in your country and indeed around the world! Joan with her energy and her tremendous abilities was able to bring people together to work towards a common cause. She left this world a better place.

    It was my honor to know Joan and to have had the pleasure of seeing her often and celebrating wonderful occasions with her and our colleagues.

    Joan lived a life well lived and we are all the better for have known her.

    I send my deepest condolences to her family with my respect and sorrow in losing a dear friend.


  4. Helen Almond

    I am really sad to hear of this news. I was awarded HISA’s inaugural Joan Edgecumbe Award. Joan’s enthusiasm and belief in the future of all things informatics, especially in improving health outcomes was inspirational. Joan and I remained in contact throughout my PhD journey. She will be missed by many.
    My thoughts go to Joan’s family at this very sad time.
    God bless you Joan

  5. Elaine Huesing (CANADA)

    I am so sorry to hear the news this weekend about Joan. I will remember her fondly, she was one of those incredible rare people who could be firm with the outmost grace and style. She was instrumental in bridging the division in Health Informatics in Australia, which resulted in HISA taking off, along with our good friend Branko Cesnik and the driving force along with Evelyn Hovenga for MedInfo 2007.

    It is extremely sad to lose such a wonderful person, one that so many around the world cared about and admired. Please extend my condolences to all of HISA.

    Kindest, Elaine

  6. Paul Willma

    On behalf of Cerner, and “the industry” I would like to express my deepest condolences. In the early years of HISA Joan was the driving force that kept our organisation as a sponsor, and that momentum carried forward through to today.

    On a personal note, I was a HISA Board member at the point that the transition from Joan’s leadership to the larger organisation occurred. She handled the baton change to the next generation with professionalism, even though HISA was still her “baby”.

    She has been a true pioneer of the health IT industry, and will be missed both as a professional and a caring human being.

    Rest in peace. Joan.
    Paul Willma

  7. Prof Fernando Martin-Sanchez, Madrid, SPAIN

    I am very sad for the news. Joan was my first Australian friend from the health informatics community. I remember fondly many meetings at IMIA, MEDINFOs, …
    She was the international face of Australian Health Informatics for many years.
    I especially remember the MEDINFO 2007 in Brisbane, where she met my family, and that marked the beginning of our Australian adventure a few years later. An excellent professional and warm friend. I will miss you very much…

  8. Peter Murray (UK)

    I was saddened to hear that we have lost our friend and colleague Joan. It is a privilege to have known and worked wih her over many years; her passing is a loss to us all, but we have the memory of her life and work. Joan was a great advocate for nursing informatics in Australia and internationally, and for ensuring Australia’s place in the international informatics community. She was one of the driving forces behind Medinfo2007, and I remember her and Evelyn, and the promotional koalas, promoting the event. As well as her infectious smile, we will miss her steely determination to take no nonsense.

  9. Michelle Honey (NZ)

    The New Zealand nursing informatics community join the international and Australian informatics community to note Joan’s passing with sadness and with respect for her significant contribution to nursing informatics. She brought huge energy and enthusiasm to her informatics work and was a force to be reckoned with.

    She won’t be forgotten!

    Rest in peace

    Michelle Honey, New Zealand

  10. Michael Kidd

    I am very sad to hear the news of Joan’s passing. She leaves an extraordinary legacy. Joan was a passionate pioneer and early advocate for the potential of information technology to transform health care for the better. She encouraged and supported so many of us early in our careers. And she was always keen to showcase to the rest of the world the best that Australia has to offer. Without Joan, HISA and HIC, and all that has followed, would not have happened. Farewell, dear friend.

  11. Warren Walsh

    In late 2007 the then CEO, Brendan Lovelock asked me to few words in honor of Joan’s retirement from her full time position at HISA. After going back through it over the last few days, I find it as relevant today as was then.

    It reads as follows:

    It is with the greatest pleasure that I convey my respect and admiration for Joan Edgecumbe and her passionate contribution to Health Informatics.

    For more than twenty years Joan has tirelessly championed the cause of Health Informatics not only in this country, but as a highly respected member of the World Health Informatics community.

    Her tenacious motivation helped lead to the establishment of the Heath Informatics Society of Australia, and the successful management and operation of many World class events to further the cause of Health Informatics.

    Joan has been an inspiration to many, for her boundless energy and fervent belief that you can achieve anything with a little hard work and a good contact.

    Rarely can you find such a truly exceptional soul who will encourage and inspire others to achieve goals they would think not possible. On a personal level, I’m not sure if Joan is aware of the strength and self belief that she has imparted to me. This has allowed me to accomplish many positive achievements, not only in my personal life but also my professional career. For this I will be forever grateful.

    Whilst it is with much sadness that Joan is retiring from her position at HISA, I am sure that her exceptional work will continue through various ongoing positions and projects.

    With great reverence, I celebrate the personal and professional achievements of Joan Edgecumbe and the profound affect her influence has had on family, friends and colleagues.


    Warren Walsh
    Event Technology Pty Ltd
    HISA Technical Manager

  12. Ramin Moghaddam (Iran)

    I am very sad to hear the news. I met Joan in different events during Medinfo2004, AMIA 2006, Medinfo2007. She was so friendly, supportive, and passionate professionally and personally. It is a big loss indeed. Please give my sincere condolences to her family and friends. God rest her soul at peace, Ameen, All the best, Ramin Moghaddam, Iran

  13. Sue McIndoe

    I remember when I took on the role of NIA Treasurer and inherited a mess. Joan helped me sort it out and get NIA finances back onto the straight and narrow. She liked to tell the story of how the NIA founders invested money and made lots of $$$ which was used to start up HISA.

    I also remember lots of visits to her house when she lived in East Keilor and meeting her charming little grandson; he will miss her so much.

    Thanks Joan for your friendship and wise advice. ?

  14. Lis Herbert

    I will never forget Joan with her passion and drive for nursing informatics. Joan encouraged me many years ago to nominate for chair, a position I held for a number of terms.

    I will remember her as a friend and a mentor, love you Joan xx

  15. Tom Morgan

    Vale Joan Edgecumbe
    A very respected colleague and friend.

  16. Robert Barley

    I first met Joan at HIC many many years ago and she called me “Bob” – to the end she was the only person i have ever allowed to call me this and it is with that fond memory that I will remember this special lady.

  17. Michael Legg

    Very sad. Joan made a wonderful contribution to health informatics in Australia

  18. Ross Davey

    I just can’t imagine HISA or health informatics without Joan. She was mentor, colleague, mother-figure and friend to so many of us as we worked with HISA and our journey in health informatics.

    So sad to hear of Joan’s passing.

  19. Julianne Oorloff

    What an amazing, tenacious, energetic determined, extraordinary life Joan led.
    She was an inspiration to me all those years ago to get involved in nursing informatics.
    She made you feel you could really make a contribution and a difference and achieve things you didn’t believe possible. She will be greatly missed by her daughter and grandson and by all of us too.
    Many happy memories and an extraordinary professional legacy.
    Rest peacefully Joan knowing your work continues with the next generations.

  20. Lindsay Kiley

    I met Joan 16 years ago when InterSystems first became a sponsor of HIC. I had only been living in Australia for about one year and Joan graciously gave her time to indoctrinate me into the world of health informatics in Australia. I admired her tell-it-like-it-is style and strong convictions. A big smile comes to my face when I think of her.

The Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) has merged with the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) to form the Australasian Institute of Digital Health on Monday 24 February 2020. This site will no longer be updated and will be preserved for archive. Visit us at the Institute! www.digitalhealth.org.au.