Healthcare in Canada is delivered through a publicly-funded system, administered by each province and delivered by both public and private entities. Health care costs are largely paid through funding from federal and provincial income taxes. The Canada Health Act deems that essential physician and hospital care be covered by a publicly-funded system, but each province has some ability to determine what is considered essential, as well as where, how and by whom the services are provided.
Alberta Health is the provincial ministry that sets policy, legislation and standards for the health system in Alberta. It is also responsible for allocating health funding and administering provincial programs (such as the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan), regulating the services provided by doctors and other health professionals, and for negotiating fee schedules with health professionals. Alberta Health also oversees the drug and supplemental health benefits program, which provides supplementary health benefits for eligible Albertans. The Department is divided into nine portfolios, including (among others) Health Information Systems, External/Stakeholder Relations and Strategic Planning and Policy Development, which each play a role in health innovation. The Strategic Planning and Policy Development portfolio also contains a separate section dedicated to Research and Innovation.
Alberta Health Services is Canada’s largest province-wide, fully integrated health system and is responsible for delivering health services to over four million Albertans as well as some residents of Saskatchewan, B.C, and the Northwest Territories. It has over 108,000 employees and 650 facilities throughout the province including 106 acute care hospitals, and an annual operating budget of nearly $14 billion. The unique size, scope, and centralization of AHS present a significant opportunity for any company looking to export medical devices into Alberta, presuming they can win AHS supply contracts. In the Edmonton region, AHS directly operates eleven hospitals and funds the operation of two others by Covenant Health.
The University of Alberta Hospital (UAH) is a research and teaching hospital, providing primary to quaternary care to over 700 000 patients annually. The hospital has approximately 885 inpatient beds, including 146 beds in the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and 89 beds in the Stollery Children’s Hospital – a nationally recognized leader in the provision of specialized pediatric care. The UAH campus is part of a larger health campus at the University of Alberta, which also includes the Cross Cancer Institute, the Kaye Edmonton Clinic and the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy. The co-location of these facilities means researchers from the University of Alberta have direct access to clinicians working in acute, ambulatory and specialized cancer care.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) is Alberta’s busiest hospital. Each year it performs more surgeries and sees more patients in its emergency than any other hospital in the province. The RAH is also a leader in robotic surgery, conducting more robot-aided procedures than any other facility in Canada. As one of two trauma referral centres in Canada’s northernmost major city, the RAH serves patients from northern Alberta, British Colombia, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. The RAH campus, includes 874 beds within the RAH itself and additional 244 beds at the adjacent Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, which is Canada’s largest free-standing rehabilitation facility and has been recognized as a North American leader in this area. Like the University Hospital, the RAH also provides specialized care through facilities like the Alberta Eye Institute, the CK Hui Heart Centre and the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.
Alberta Health Services supports ongoing health innovation through the development of Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs) focused on specific areas of health care. SCNs are networks of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about specific areas of health, who are tasked with finding new and innovative ways of delivering care that will provide better quality, better outcomes and better value for every Albertan. Thirteen SCNs have been created and their areas of focus include:
Covenant Health is Canada’s largest Catholic healthcare organization. It operates 17 hospitals and care centers in 12 communities across Alberta. With nearly 15 000 employees, Covenant Health is the second largest non-profit provider of health services in Alberta, after AHS. In Edmonton, Covenant Health operates two acute care facilities – the Misericordia Community Hospital and the Grey Nuns Community Hospital – and three extended care facilities.
Covenant Health supports health system innovation by raising the leadership and innovation bar in areas where it adds value to Alberta’s health system, including seniors’ care, mental health care, end-of-life care and rural health. Covenant Health is home to the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine (iRSM) – an internationally recognized clinical and research institute focused on medical reconstructive sciences and the Northern Alberta Vascular Centre (NAVC).
Primary health care serves a critical function in Alberta’s health care system. Not only does it serve as the first point of contact for patients but it also provides a coordination function to ensure continuity and ease of movement across the system, so that care remains integrated when patients require more specialized services. In Edmonton (like the rest of the province), most primary care services are organized through Primary Care Networks (PCNs). A Primary Care Network is a network of doctors and other health providers such as nurses, dietitians and pharmacists working together to provide primary health care to patients. A PCN can be compromised of one clinic with many physicians and support staff, or several doctors in several clinics in a geographic area. The Alberta government provides supplementary funding to hire other health professionals to help deliver enhanced services to their patients. Each network has the flexibility to develop programs and to provide services in a way that works locally to meet the specific needs of patients. The Edmonton area includes nine PCNs.
Diagnostic Imaging Diagnostic imaging (DI) refers to a variety of non-invasive methods for identifying, diagnosing and monitoring diseases or injuries via the generation of images representing internal anatomic structures and organs of the patient’s body. Common examples of imaging tests include, computer tomography (CT) scans, X-rays and ultrasounds. In Alberta, DI services are publicly funded and both publicly and privately delivered. Public delivery of DI services in Edmonton is managed by AHS through its hospital facilities. Edmontonians can also access DI services in the community by visiting one of the several private radiology clinics operating in the Edmonton region. Some of the largest providers of these services operating in Edmonton, include:
Laboratory Services Laboratory services include a comprehensive range of routine and specialized testing and clinical consultation in the province of Alberta. These testing services provide support to clinicians in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring for disease for the residents.
In Alberta, these services are publicly funded. In Edmonton, most laboratory services are provided privately but DynaLIFE Medical Labs. DynaLIFE is based in Edmonton and has 30 sites – including hospital laboratories and community patient care centres – located across Northern Alberta. It’s state-of-the-art central testing facility – located in Downtown Edmonton – performs over 14 million diagnostic tests a year. DynaLIFE employs approximately 1000 people.
Supplementary Health Practitioners Alberta Blue Cross is an Alberta-based and Alberta-grown, independent, not-for-profit organization. As Alberta’s largest benefits carrier, ABC provides supplementary health and dental benefits to meet the needs of over 1.6 million Albertans.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is Canada’s largest province-wide, fully integrated health system – and it is responsible for delivering health services to over four million Albertans through its 650 facilities, including 106 acute care hospitals. Information on contracting, procurement, supply management and research practices within AHS can be found in this section.
Health and Life Science Research and Workforce Training
A successful health sector needs highly talented, skilled people who understand health and life science, business, management and domestic and international markets. Thanks to Edmonton’s network of post-secondary institutions, Edmonton has an intellectual edge and access to a these highly talented and skilled workers.
Industry associations are organizations that are founded by businesses within a specific industry. Edmonton and Alberta are home to a number of health and life-science industry associations that represent and promote our vibrant and diverse health ecosystem. Check out the links below to learn more.
The ability to access, analyze and act on data has never been more important for companies looking to compete in a global market. Edmonton knows that and that is why we are leaders in open data, in Canada and around the world.