CEO, Health City
The Canadian health care system was once the envy of the world. It could be again, if innovation is embraced.
Within Canada and around the globe, the Canadian health care system has a reputation as one of the best in the world. It’s a reputation that has been hard-earned over the course of decades. Today, however, the Canadian system is gradually falling behind other major countries for a multitude of reasons. One of these reasons is the slow adoption of innovation in the face of ever-accelerating change.
“In the last decade, we’ve seen huge disruption within Canada in sectors from transportation to entertainment to banking,” says Reg Joseph, CEO of Health City. “That same level of disruption is happening in health care around the world, but the problem is that it’s not happening enough here in Canada. From a global perspective, Canadian health care is approaching a crisis situation. Our costs continue to go up, and our outcomes aren’t significantly improving. We’re treading water.”
Harnessing Canadian innovation to solve Canadian health care challenges
Fortunately, organizations like Health City are working hard to get us moving forward again, starting with new technologies developed right here in Canada to meet our unique health care needs. Edmonton-based MEDO.ai, for example, is harnessing artificial intelligence to tackle the most Canadian of health care challenges: the sheer scale of this nation. MEDO.ai’s 3D ultrasound platform provides remote digital diagnostic imaging, allowing modern imaging and screening to reach corners of the nation where they were never available before.
“We have so many individuals in rural and hard-to-reach communities,” says Joseph. “To be proactive and preventative, we need to be able to do early-stage interventions in these communities. It’s challenging, however, to get those individuals to a diagnostic centre. Fortunately, we have the technology to enable digital diagnostic imaging in field. MEDO.ai’s artificial intelligence-based solution allows remote imaging anywhere with very little training. So, we’ve opened a new opportunity to screen these people and drive better health outcomes.”
Stronger Canadian research through intelligent health data
Health City also has its eye on revolutionizing health data in Canada’s academic and corporate research institutions. “Everyone knows the power of health data, especially when we start talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning,” says Joseph. “The big concern with health data, however, and it’s a very legitimate one, is privacy.”
Even with anonymized data, well-founded privacy concerns present an unfortunate but seemingly unavoidable speed bump to innovative research. Unless, as a new synthetic data project is currently piloting, those privacy concerns can be rendered nonexistent through machine learning, a technology in which Edmonton is a world leader.
“The synthetic data project is an intelligently-generated database of fictional patients that reflects the characteristics of the real population but doesn’t have any of the original data points in it and therefore doesn’t have any of the privacy concerns,” says Joseph. “We can then use this synthetic data set as a robust early-stage tool for health research. It’s a huge potential timesaver.”
The best solutions are developed after the problem has been identified
Health City is a nationally incorporated non-profit company that works with clinicians, innovators, philanthropic organizations, and companies to develop new pathways of care that can drive better health outcomes and economic development in the health sector.
“We’re always working with local clinicians to understand the gaps in care within communities and the innovations that can fill those gaps,” says Joseph. “The goal of these projects is not only to create new business opportunities but to generate data that can inform policymakers and bring about a new way of delivering health care. Fortunately, we have the tools and skills right here in Canada to make a positive and lasting change.” By marrying Canada’s technological strengths with carefully-identified community health care challenges and by scaling local solutions up to the national level, Canada’s health care system might just get the second wind it needs to overtake and exceed its reputation.