Technical Innovation is the Solution, if you Target the Right Problem

By Mario Voltolina

Canada’s health care system is a source of pride for most Canadians. We see health care in Canada as a reflection of who we are as a country, embodying our aspirations of innovation, fairness, caring, efficiency, equality, professionalism and standards of living.

According to a study published by the Fraser Institute in 2019 (using data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), in health care spending as a percentage of GDP, Canada ranks second in the group of countries with universal health care — just behind Switzerland and just ahead of France. So, in theory, we should expect to be pretty close to the top in terms of health system performance. But we are not.

Among 28 countries with universal health care, Canada ranks 14th in terms of life expectancy (at birth). Canada has the highest infant mortality rate and performs poorly for perinatal mortality as well: ranked 21st out of 28 countries. Finally, Canada ranks 15th among those 28 countries in mortality amenable to health care (meaning avoidable mortality in the presence of timely and effective care).

Clearly, we can do better.

One way to improve our performance is through accelerating the adoption and use of innovative technologies. Technological innovation is widespread in Canada, as it is around the world, but we need to hone our skills in matching our problems with technological solutions, and we need to execute our plans with greater speed, efficiency and effectiveness.

Of course, Canada excels in many technological areas. For example, Canada was first in identifying and funding core research programs in quantum computing and artificial intelligence. With champions like CIFAR, the Perimeter Institute and the Vector Institute, there is a real opportunity to accelerate the identification, development, and readiness of solutions that could make a significant difference to the health of Canadians.

The fragmentation of health care as an industry is an obstacle to efficiency, and Canada has one of the most fragmented environments in the world. Researchers, vendors, payers, regulators, educators, providers and patients all have a role to play in this complex performance.

The right application of technology to the right problem, done the right way, can effectively vault Canada’s health care system to the top of the class. However, we will only succeed if we all act together. By bringing all the stakeholders together, we can discuss, plan and execute on a strategy for the rapid adoption of innovative technologies. I hope you will join us.

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About the author
Mario Voltolina

Mario Voltolina

As Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President, Product Engineering and Operations at Infoway, Mario Voltolina is responsible for the Product Engineering and Operations group. The group manages the design, development and operation of Infoway’s products and services. Responsibilities include quality, performance, reliability, availability, lifecycle management and support functions. Mario has more than 30 years of experience in the information technology industry, mainly in health care and financial services, with some interesting detours into manufacturing and geographic information systems.