A Report Worth Reading: Promoting Health Innovation in Ontario
Ontario has huge opportunities to become a global leader in health innovation. The Province has six excellent medical schools, 24 research hospitals and serves as the Canadian corporate headquarters for many of the world’s largest health companies. Yet Ontario does not have a strong track record in fostering health innovation. To address the development of strategies to catapult Ontario into a lead position in terms of health innovation, the provincial government, through its ministries of Health and Long-Term Care, Government and Consumer Services, and Research and Innovation formed the Ontario Health Innovation Council (OHIC) in 2013.
The council consists of an impressive and eclectic group of health leaders, including KGH CEO Leslee Thompson. Joining Leslee on the council were: David Williams, Adalstein Brown, Neil Fraser, Rafi Hofstein, Jeffrey Lozon, Peter Robertson, Anne Snowdon, Shirlee Sharkey, Peter van der Velden, Theodore Witek, and Catherine Zahn.
In December, OHIC produced its initial report, which is entitled The Catalyst: Towards an Ontario Health Innovation Strategy.1It’s a report worth reading. The Catalyst suggests six strategies, which are aimed at facilitating technological innovations that would promote health and improve access and quality of care for Ontarians. These are:
- Establish an Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist
- Appoint innovation brokers to connect innovators with resources
- Invest in made-in-Ontario technologies
- Accelerate the shift to strategic value-based procurement
- Create incentives and remove barriers to innovation
- Optimize the pathways to adoption and diffusion of innovation
The report’s executive summary ends with “This is a call to action”. Indeed, this report is a forward-thinking plan that would address many of our healthcare system’s core problems with solutions that are technology-based, innovative and realistic. Should they be adopted, these recommendations would undoubtedly curb the rising costs of healthcare while improving patient outcomes. They would also open opportunities for the early adoption of and investment in our own homegrown innovations, which would bring Ontario to the forefront in the health technology sector.
At the heart of the report is an analysis of the innovation cycle (figure 1). The innovation cycle suggests the desired pathway to bring to fruition health innovations that can assist with Ontario’s health priorities and needs and as well serve as an economic stimulus. The report identifies current pitfalls to a smooth functioning cycle, labeling these impediments, the Technological Valley of Death and the Commercialization Valley of Death. It is proposed that the adoption of the six recommendations will help transform these lethal valleys into windows of opportunity.
How do you see technology fitting in to Ontario’s healthcare landscape? What did you think of OHIC’s recommendations? Share your thoughts by commenting on the blog… or better yet please drop by the Macklem House. My door is always open.
The author would like to thank Queen’s Faculty of Health Science Industry Liaison Officer, Seth Chitayat, PhD, MBA, for his assistance with this blog.