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A hero in advancing virtual care for patients

Annie Liu, program secretary at BC Cancer - Victoria, has dedicated countless hours in educating patients on how to use the virtual health systems.
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​​The BC Cancer Excellence Awards highlight the incredible individuals and teams who work to ensure that British Columbians receive world-class, patient-centred cancer screening, treatment and support, or benefit from new discoveries that are helping change the face of cancer. 

Annie Liu, program secretary at BC Cancer - Victoria, was recently recognized with a 2020 BC Cancer Excellence Award in the category of Unsung Hero. This award recognizes a staff member who is always ready to help out, and who demonstrates an ongoing pattern of going above and beyond the scope of their job, making a positive impact on those around them and the organization.

The pandemic caused a marked increase in virtual visits, with BC Cancer - Victoria leading virtual visits across the province at a rate of 90 per cent. Annie dedicated countless hours in educating patients and families on how to use the virtual health systems. She takes the time to make sure patients feel comfortable with virtual health technology in our "new normal", sometimes spending over an hour with patients prior to their appointments. 

She supported clinicians with the transition with kindness and grace. Her primary focus has always been patient care and she never loses her upbeat attitude. 

Annie is often praised for her work in supporting patients and staff: 

"Annie has provided outstanding support for patients and their families, meeting virtually with all patients, sometimes over an hour at a time, prior to their appointments with clinicians to help them set up their technology and teach them how to connect to remove BC Cancer appointments."
"Her passion for helping patients have a positive experience with the technology shows her patience, her humour, and her ability to figure out each patient's unique technical setup and level of comfort with computers. She has helped not only BC Cancer - Victoria but also the other cancer centres and the Office of Virtual Health assess multiple products as we work towards the right product and the smoothest workflows."
We had a chance to catch up with Annie on her award.

1. Can you tell us about your role at BC Cancer?

I have been the program secretary for Clinical Services at BC Cancer - Victoria for the past three years. I have experience in almost every BC Cancer - Victoria clerical role and workflow. My responsibilities include maintaining Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU) schedules, clinician schedules (medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, general practitioners in oncology, nurse practitioners), and payroll for nursing and patient care aides. 

I am also the contact for all virtual health appointments at BC Cancer - Victoria. I love this part of my job because I always have so much fun with the patients. They are willing to try and troubleshoot with me on the phone. Sometimes when we are connected online, they would even share their home/ocean view with me. Being able to connect with patients in a personal way has been really touching.

2. How did you feel when it was announced that you're a BC Cancer Excellence Award winner?

I was surprised although my colleagues and managers have often acknowledged how I have helped them in the past. I felt that I am only doing everyday job so I was surprised when I found out that I received an award.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your job?  

During COVID, when we were setting up all our providers and clinicians for virtual appointments, I obtained consent from all patients who would like to do virtual visits with our clinicians. Sometimes I felt like I didn't have enough time to get to all the things that I wanted to do but our patients have been very patient. Patients would say "I know you must be so busy right now. Thank you for taking the time to walk me through the steps". Most of our patients are elderly and many of them just need a bit more support with getting set up with virtual health appointments. I do not want them to feel defeated before even trying. I treat them like how I would treat my parents. I would like them to take the opportunity to try virtual appointments at least once with my assistance. 

4. What has been your proudest moment at BC Cancer? 

Before COVID, we were planning an ACU redesign to maximize the space used in clinics and to streamline clinicians' schedules so it will be a smooth transition to CST. Our regional director entrusted me with my knowledge of virtual health appointments and clinical workflow for clerical staff. I was fortunate to attend a couple of meetings with the CST team to give them a list of requests. I felt proud to be the go-to person for this work.

5. Tell us something about you that most people don't know - about a hobby or passion, or something else.

I am interested in health information science. In my free time, I like to research medical technology adopted by other countries and discuss it with my manager to see if it is feasible.

For example, Taiwan, which is where I came from, has adopted a care card that is micro-chipped. All the information is centralized. Even if the hospitals and clinics are using different platform, all the medical information can easily be uploaded/downloaded from the government. There is no disconnection between different programs. I am especially interested in digital signage, touch LED for self check-in, and mobile app for clinical status. 

You truly are an Unsung Hero, Annie. Congratulations on your award! 

The BC Cancer Excellence Awards celebrate the passion and remarkable contributions of BC Cancer staff, and highlight some outstanding examples of how our people are making a difference for British Columbians facing cancer. For more information on our awards, visit
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