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Take Two Apps and Call Me in the Morning

Hyper-funding cloud innovations

I have been especially excited about the recent Canada Health Infoway Cloud strategy document, because I understand their importance in the overall “supply chain” of Canadian e-Health technologies like EHR – Electronic Healthcare Records, and what large scale challenges this particular sector faces.

This scale and these challenges has been very effectively discussed in this feature article from the Globe’s latest Report on Business supplement – Take Two Apps and Call Me in the Morning.

Could the Elderly Bankrupt Canada?
The article pulls no punches in any of the questions it asks about the issue as a whole, especially noting just how expensive it could be for Canada if they get e-Health wrong.

As they head towards the demographic loading of the baby boomer retirements, there will be a strain on both costs and resources.

E-Health technology would provide the leverage to handle these challenges but Canada is woefully behind in the uptake and adoption of it. This means that as this demographic shift occurs, the infrastructure will strain to the degree that experts feel it could even bankrupt the country.

The article includes a quote from the Infoway CEO himself admitting Canada is “at the back of the bus” in comparison to other developed nations.

Canada Health Infoway is the national standards organization for growing adoption of E-Health technology and their CEO Richard Alvarez considered the country`s mandarin on the topic.

The Canada Cloud Roadmap
The critical point is that this low uptake level of technology isn’t unique to e-Healthcare, the nation is struggling with a declining innovation productivity because it’s also slower and lower in areas like small business and government.

In government reports like ‘Building Canada’s Digital Advantage’ the federal government calls for more proactive adoption of new technologies like Cloud computing by the public sector, to ‘lead the way’ as innovators, but it doesn’t happen.

Healthcare is a sensitive and powerful demonstration area for the impact of this poor innovation & adoption performance.

Slide 4 of this presentation shows that Canada is significantly behind other nations like the UK, Australia and New Zealand in their adoption, and  this Globe news piece, about adoption of new bar-coding technologies to eliminate medication errors.

The Canadian Institute for Health Improvement estimates that medication errors affect more than one million patients each year, with more than 700 of them dying as a result. The bar-coding system is intended to reduce this by eliminating the errors that can occur in more manual processes, so it’s quite obvious the societal as well as economic costs of low levels of technology investment and uptake.

The idea of our “Canada Cloud Roadmap” is to help tackle these types of issues by providing a forum to focus on technology acceleration patterns, like Technology Roadmapping.

The Roadmap will be developed with these e-Health requirements added to the program mix.

Hyper-funding Cloud innovations
The reason for this type of activity is that Canada has the opportunity to “kill two birds with one stone”, which is that the ideal solution is to grow a more successful and vibrant technology innovation sector.

More e-Health start-ups, who receive adequate funding etc., will provide the groundswell to drive the industry momentum.

One of the key insights to address this situation is that it’s often quoted that IT start-ups in Canada lack access to any venture financing, due to a weak VC industry.

However the article makes the headline point, that Infoway themselves have consumed $2.1 billion in funding from Ottawa since 2001.

Clearly $2 billion is a healthy sum of money which for all intents and purpose is intended for the same goal – Of driving e-Health innovations and nurturing it’s successful uptake throughout the industry. The article reports poor successes with this financing and so at one level it’s a question of which investment strategy will work best.

There is no government law that says this money all has to be spent using the same procurement models, the same suppliers, … It’s entirely open to new ideas and new models, and with those being more entrepreneurial in nature then we can start to see the two birds standing together.

In the article the author quotes analysts who anticipate a global market of $32 billion by 2015 for e-Healthcare, and point out how in Canada providers like Telus have pumped in $1 billion to their play for the sector. In Montreal the consulting firm CGI nets $350m revenues from the sector.

In short it’s a massive spending sector and so a suitable place to set up a basecamp for a general technology innovation push.

Even a small % of $2 billion that is directed more towards entrepreneurs and ventures will yield an industry catalyst effect that coaches out better performance from the big contracts too.

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