Few industries in the world face more complex problems than healthcare. Disparate and disconnected information systems, the uncertainties within regulatory environments around the world and the inevitable disruptions in core business models all pose perplexing and interlocking challenges.
As we embark on the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, when “social” means connecting with friends across the globe as easily as we connect with friends across the street and everything from a dog walker to a cheeseburger can be ordered from an app, the obvious question is how technology can bring its capabilities to bear to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry.
Technology – specifically the cloud, AI and collaboration, mixed reality and business optimization tools – is central to healthcare transformation and there are several Canadian companies at the forefront of innovation.
Montreal-based CAE, for instance, is on the cusp of a new frontier in simulation for healthcare. The company is a global leader in modeling that is revolutionizing healthcare education and training with Microsoft HoloLens. They recently launched CAE VimedixAR, an ultrasound simulator that uses the mixed reality device to transform the way doctors, ultrasound technicians and students visualize complex organs, like the heart and lungs. Their goal is to improve patient safety and outcomes.
Imagine a medical student could elevate a hologram of a beating heart and turn it, enlarge it, and examine it to fully grasp its anatomy. Or that a surgeon could practice inserting a smaller, more efficient pacemaker into a holographic patient while the patient breathes and displays vital signs. Augmented and virtual reality can accelerate learning and provide shared training experiences in a more immersive and engaging clinical learning environment. With this type of technology, CAE believes a new generation of medical professionals will be better prepared and more advanced from the start.
CAE’s dedication to improving patient outcomes is incredible and they are just one of many businesses in the industry that are using Microsoft technology to transform healthcare in Canada.
Many hospitals, clinics and healthcare offices around the world still use fax machines as their primary source of sending referrals, booking procedures and sharing medical information between facilities. Based in Kingston Ontario, Novari Health is helping health care providers modernize that process. Built in the Microsoft Cloud and Canadian datacentres, The Novari Access to Care® software platform acts much like an air traffic control system, keeping track of patients as they move more efficiently through publicly funded healthcare systems.
For patients being referred to specialists or clinics, the Novari eRequest®module helps medical professionals select, route and manage referrals efficiently and securely based on criteria such as specialty, location, urgency and wait times. And if a decision has been made to proceed to surgery, the Novari ATC™ module helps determine what tests and other steps the patient will need to have completed before surgery, such as blood work, x-rays, MRIs and more. Hospitals and regional health administrators can now track each patient’s surgical journey so no patient falls through the cracks due to a misplaced fax, all while maintaining the strictest data security with the help of Azure’s Canadian datacentres.
Novari Health works with roughly 50 hospitals and healthcare clients in three Canadian provinces and recently expanded into Australia.
Another Canadian company that is using Microsoft technology to deliver improved care to patients is Kinetisense, based in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Developed by Dr. Ryan Comeau and David Schnare, Kinetisense uses the Kinect 2 sensor to assess a patient’s range of motion and body alignment and provide a more accurate treatment plan than ever before. The technology is helping to open lines of communication between multiple health-related disciplines across the globe by leveraging Azure and the Microsoft Cloud to provide tools for clinicians to be able to access data from clinics around the world. They can build on each other’s treatments, and ultimately help the patient.
In many ways, the healthcare industry is firmly rooted in past. Healthcare providers are understandably risk averse and notoriously slow to adopt new processes. It is a market that is ripe for innovation and companies that can take advantage of this opportunity have the potential not only to impact the industry, but also generate tangible results for the Canadian economy as a whole.
To learn more about digital transformation in the healthcare industry, visit Microsoft Canada’s healthcare site here.