10 Calls to Action by Canada's Research Hospitals on Strategic Framework for Science & Technology...



    OTTAWA, Nov. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Association of Canadian Academic
Healthcare Organizations (ACAHO), the national voice of Teaching Hospitals,
Regional Health Authorities and their Research Institutes (known as "Research
Hospitals") has released a groundbreaking report "Moving at the Speed of
Discovery: From Bench to Bedside to Business" - which provides a framework for
the country's health research enterprise, and highlights the diversity and
depth of health research within ACAHO member institutions. The report can be
downloaded from the Association's web-site at www.Acaho.org.
    The report focuses on the important contributions that Canada's Research
Hospitals make through investments in health research, innovation and
commercialization by identifying over one hundred "world first" discoveries -
improving the health and health care of Canadians, and over eighty-five
spin-off companies - contributing to the country's growing skilled work force
and economic prosperity. Building on the platform of Medicare, this report
focuses on the impacts of research on the country's health and wealth.
    "In today's increasingly competitive and knowledge-driven world, the
creation, dissemination and ownership of new knowledge - which is the
lifeblood of innovation - is crucial and will have a major impact on our
future quality of life and standard of living", said Dr. Denis Roy, President
of ACAHO and Executive Director of la Centre Hospitalier de L'Université de
Montréal (CHUM). "As we consider the impact of health research, such as the
biotechnology revolution, it is critical that we have the right strategic
framework and combination of people, structures and funding in place to fully
harness the full benefits that come from innovation."
    Moving at the Speed of Discovery also underscores the essential
contribution that the federal government makes in supporting health research -
be it through a series of direct and indirect investments, and their shaping
of the legislative, regulatory and fiscal environment. "Without question, over
the past decade, the federal government has made a substantial contribution to
accelerating health research across the country - and they should be
applauded. However, we must continue to invest in key elements that support
the research enterprise if we are to remain internationally competitive so
that we can reap the benefits of world class research", said Dr. Arthur
Slutsky, ACAHO Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee of Vice-Presidents of Health
Research, and Vice-President, Health Research, St. Michael's Hospital in
Toronto.
    Building on the federal government's Science & Technology Strategy
"Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage", the report
identifies 10 Calls to Action (see Backgrounder), which focus on the need to:

    
    - Develop a national strategic framework for health research
    - Create a sustainable fiscal framework for public and private
      investments in health research
    - Identify a clearer consensus on discovery-based and targeted
      investments in health research
    - Develop  and  communicate  a  better  understanding  of  the  return-
      on-investment  from  health research, innovation and commercialization,
      and
    - Create additional business acumen capacity to assist in the
      commercialization of health research

    "As we move forward, members of ACAHO are playing a critical role in
developing the country's health research capacity. Their work has been
groundbreaking, if not revolutionary, global in its impact and playing a
significant role opening up new avenues of scientific inquiry" said Mr. Glenn
Brimacombe, CEO of ACAHO. "Furthermore, in a world that is inter-connected and
rewards speed, it is clear that if Canada is to strengthen its social and
economic fabric as well as its international standing - now and well into the
future - it must continue to invest in the elements that support health
innovation. Otherwise, Canada will not be able to attract the great minds and
talent needed to discover the ideas that will transform our society from good
to great".
    As engines of health innovation, members of ACAHO are leaders of
innovative and transformational organizations that serve a unique and
essential role in the system: they advance leading edge innovative practices
through health research, educate the next generation of health care
professionals, and provide much of the specialized health care services to
Canadians.

                                 BACKGROUNDER
                           -  10 CALLS TO ACTION  -
    

    Based on the information presented in this first-of-its-kind report,
ACAHO has identified a series of Calls to Action that need to be considered by
those who have a direct stake in the future success of Canada's health
research enterprise; this includes, federal and provincial governments and
their funding agencies, Teaching Hospitals and Academic Regional Health
Authorities (RHAs) (and their Research Institutes), Universities, Health
Charities and the private sector. Equally, if not more important, is the role
of the public, whom we serve and look to enhance their overall health status,
quality of life, and contributions to society.
    In many ways, the Calls to Action have been developed with the
understanding that the form of the country's health research enterprise must
follow from its identified function. Framed in this manner, ACAHO is of the
view that the Calls to Action must be reflected in any national science and
technology strategy.

    1. Develop a compelling vision and mission for health research in Canada:
It is crucial for Canada to develop a meaningful and compelling vision and
mission for the health research enterprise. It is equally crucial that this
vision and mission serve as a guidepost or roadmap in developing a more
detailed science and technology strategy for the health sector.

    2. Develop a national strategic framework for health research in Canada:
Following from the development of a vision and mission for health research, it
is imperative that a national strategic framework for health research be
created. This integrated framework or "ecosystem" - which encompasses the
component parts of the health research enterprise - must reflect the "inputs"
required to support discovery-based research; the legislative, regulatory and
fiscal environment; the technology transfer process; and the process through
which we "translate" and convert knowledge into "outputs," such as improved
health for Canadians, more cost-effective clinical and administrative
decision-making, and greater movement of innovative products and services to
the marketplace. It must also be inextricably linked to the policy development
process.

    3. Develop and communicate more practical methodologies that provide a
better understanding of the return-on-investment that come from health
research, innovation and commercialization: Given the need for improved
accountability and transparency for the manner in which we invest in health
research - and the fact that the global landscape for health research is
changing in terms of identifying targets and deliverables - we must develop
and communicate more practical and user-friendly methodologies that measure
the different ways in which health research provides value-for-money; this
includes improved health status, the provision of cost-effective health
services and the manner in which the system is organized and managed, and an
economic return-on-investment.

    4. Develop a sustainable, multi-year federal fiscal framework for public
investments in health research: To facilitate a more rational policy
conversation and planning process that fully leverages our investments in
health research across the country, it is vital to develop a sustainable,
multi-year federal fiscal framework for health research. In its absence, we
continue to run the risk of lurching from year-to- year funding in an
environment plagued by uncertainty. This recommendation should be seriously
considered in light of the fact that close to 80% of public funding for health
research occurs in ACAHO member institutions.

    5. Adopt a balanced federal approach to investing in the components that
support the health research enterprise in Canada Given the number of "moving
parts" that are integrally involved in supporting health research in Canada
and to maximize our collective outputs, it is essential to have an effective
structural alignment of federal instruments as well as a balanced approach to
investing in highly skilled people, operating grants, infrastructure and
indirect costs. At the same time, we need to ensure that we have an
appropriate and complementary legislative and regulatory framework (e.g.,
intellectual property, tax policy) that facilitates innovation in Canada, and
accelerates the translation of knowledge.

    6. Recognize the full value that Canada's Research Hospitals bring to the
health research enterprise: Members of ACAHO - which comprise the overwhelming
majority of Canada's Research Hospitals - play a critical role in translating
knowledge that comes from health research. Our members have important
collaborative relationships and partnerships with governments, Universities
and the private sector; however, our members are stand-alone organizations who
make strategic contributions to advancing the boundaries of research,
knowledge creation and innovation in their own right.

    7. Develop a clearer consensus on the relationship between
discovery-based and targeted investments health research: While it is
understood that new knowledge and innovation can be created in non-linear
ways, more clarity is required vis-à-vis the relationship between investments
in discovery-based research and those investments that are more targeted in
nature (e.g., wait times, public health, mental health). It is important to
bear in mind that each form of research has different objectives, and that
this should be reflected in our funding priorities.

    8. Create additional business acumen capacity to assist in the
commercialization of health research: As Canada continues to advance our
understanding of the global impact of discoveries that come from the life
sciences, we also must ensure that we have the people skills to fully harness
the economic benefits that come from new discoveries. While there are
established approaches to communicating information to the public, and to
clinicians, administrators and policy makers, more must be done when it comes
to converting new knowledge into innovative and marketable products and
services. We must ask ourselves how we can improve our collective business
acumen and implement the "mechanisms" required to successfully commercialize
findings from health research.

    9. Develop an inclusive and ongoing process of consultation that promotes
an effective dialogue: While there are ongoing discussions related to Canada's
health research enterprise, there is no process that brings together all of
the relevant stakeholders to discuss ongoing and emerging issues of
importance. Organizations like Research Canada and the Canadian Health
Industries Partnership can play vital roles, yet it is important to establish
a "meeting place" where all key stakeholders can discuss the future of health
research in this country.

    10. Develop more robust data instruments that collect comparable health
research data: Currently, the publicly available data sets in existence and
their respective survey instruments are either incomplete or not as
effectively targeted to the health research community as they need to be. In
order to more fully understand the breadth of parameters that are involved in
the health research enterprise, it is essential to develop relevant and
comparable indicators and more rigorous methods of collecting information on a
timely and regular basis.




For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Beatrice Keleher Raffoul,
Director, Government Relations, (613) 730-5818 ext 323, Cell Phone: (613)
795-4878, Fax: (613) 730-4314, raffoul@acaho.org

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