The true revolution in health
Posted: July 2, 2019
Posted: July 2, 2019
These past few months have seen our region as host to several national conferences that brought together thought leaders from around the world. The content centered on health system transformation and the future of health technology (CADTH), the exponential future of technology (Singularity University Canada Summit) and investment and innovation (Inventures). Health City participated in and supported these events. While attending Singularity University, I also had the pleasure of speaking with Disruption Magazine about disruption in health and the health sector (you can listen to the podcast here).
As I reflect on these events, I am struck by the way much of the discussion about innovation and technology in health is still characterized by products and systems change for an acute setting (a newly developed pacemaker or new MRI, for example). I believe that if we want to be part of the disruption that is happening in the health sector, we need to shift our thinking about health and healthcare as a “parental” relationship of clinician to patient, and instead think of the patient as the “user” and the clinician as the “provider”. In this new paradigm, the user is empowered to actively seek out how to manage and improve their health with support from the provider. It enables us to proactively think about “our health and wellness” versus “sick-care”. And it means that health starts in the community, with the user in control and at the center of the experience. In this regard, the health sector is not unlike other sectors that have been disrupted – media, transportation, banking – where the connection between the provider and user is now more direct.
Technology and innovation are not synonymous. Technology should enhance our interactions in any system, and that applies to our health system and our health care providers. There are many examples today of technology that interferes with the interaction between provider and user: clinicians must spend their time facing a computer entering information instead of having facetime with a patient during their visit, or people in remote and rural areas drive several hours into a major centre for a ten minute test of their implanted pacemaker.
In each of the above cases, the true disruption will be that the connection between provider and user is more direct and seamless, enabled by technology, with the user driving the experience they desire and the providers’ interaction with the user enhanced by technology. What if we could test a pacemaker remotely via an internet connection and a virtual visit with a clinician, instead? The platforms we speak about as strengths in this region (artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, internet of things) are the tools that innovators will use to enhance technologies and therefore the interactions that healthcare providers and users have.
Technology is also just one aspect of innovation. Translating technology and these platforms to achieve what we want requires insight and understanding of the problems and challenges clinicians and patients face. A good example of this is the recent announcement of our partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, SAGE, AltaML and local physicians. At the core of the project is a deep understanding and desire by the clinicians to enhance their interactions with seniors, better understand and address their needs and ultimately, allow seniors themselves to better manage their health and their ability to live at home and age in place. Yes, there is a complexity of data, technology and innovation happening in the background, but the goal is to give seniors the choice about how to manage and live their lives. When clinicians and the companies providing the solutions work together, the technology is focused on and addresses the user need.
These same principles apply to many of the projects we are currently advancing and hope to announce this fall – for example, augmented and virtual reality capabilities in several of our academic institutions in this region are enhancing our ability to address mental health, medical education and stroke rehabilitation, for example. There are immense opportunities for this kind of technology to disrupt how we address health care and health.
This is Health City’s mission. I believe the opportunities in the health sector are in community, enabling clinicians and health providers who are trying to solve real problems for their patients to bring their innovative ideas to reality, using technology to enhance that innovation. Their aim is to make their patients’ lives and health better. But the bonus for our region are the economic outcomes – testing innovation here attracts talent, companies and investment, and it enables our innovators to validate their solutions for the global market.
Canada’s health system still ranks high globally, but that position is declining. One reason is our inability to adopt innovation and technology. That will not change unless we are willing to take some risks (in a transparent and regulated manner),
As we look at future projects and solutions, let’s continue to focus on how we’re enhancing outcomes and reducing costs and on how we’re enhancing the experience for both the users and providers of our health system.
As a final note, we’d like to thank Mack Male and his team at Taproot for producing the Health Innovation Roundup; an unbiased and trusted source of information about what’s happening in our region in the health sector. When our steering committee was formed, there was a desire to create “one voice” for our health ecosystem. Instead of creating our own newsletter, we wanted an independent voice that brought journalistic rigour and credibility to the stories. That is why we sponsored Taproot, and I would encourage all of you in our ecosystem to join the growing number of “cultivators” who have added their support* to this publication.
You can read the Health Innovation Roundup and other stories on our website, follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn and be sure to sign up for our mailing list to be notified of upcoming events and major announcements.
I would like to wish you all a pleasant summer full of health and time spent with family. We look forward to sharing more stories with you in the fall.
Reg Joseph, CEO, Health City
*University Hospital Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, DynaLife Labs
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