Other countries surpass Canada in technological innovation in health care

    OTTAWA, Aug. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada scores poorly in several areas of
health innovation compared to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) countries with high performing health systems, according to
a new Conference Board report, Exploring Technological Innovation in Health
    "Many decision-makers inside the health system view technology as a cost
and focus less on the potential benefits of technological innovation in
creating high-performing health systems," said Gabriela Prada, Principal
Research Associate. "Canada also does not do well in turning health research
into commercial products and technologies."
    The innovation environment in Canada compares unfavourably to leading
countries in terms of: the number of university graduates with advanced
research qualifications in the health and life sciences sectors; investment of
health-related venture capital as a percentage of gross domestic product; and
the speed and efficiency of its regulatory system.
    Canadian universities do not compare well with American and European
universities in their ability to diffuse knowledge and commercialize research
into marketable products and services. Canadian universities also produce
fewer inventions, patents and licenses than U.S. or European counterparts. The
study concludes that little collaboration occurs between universities and
business enterprises. This poor performance may be due in part to the low
level of health research and development performed and funded by the business
    Another area requiring improvement is Canada's investment in information
and communications technology. Average hospital expenditures on information
technology are only 1.5 per cent of operating budget-well below the
4.4 per cent average for the OECD countries studied. Canada also scores low in
the use of electronic medical records and the use of Internet and external
health information systems to support primary care practices.

    The Conference Board identifies four measures for improvement:

    - Develop a plan of action to strengthen Canada's comparatively weak
      health innovation environment;
    - Promote more collaboration between universities and the business sector
      to boost commercialization of knowledge;
    - Fund, adopt and consistently use integrated health information systems;
    - Create valid indicators and consistent definitions-aligned with
      international standards-that will allow us to measure innovation
      performance in the Canadian health systems, including progress in
      achieving stated goals.

    The report, which is publicly available at www.e-library.ca, was funded
by the Centre for Health Care and Innovation, a Conference Board executive
network designed to build innovation and commercialization capacity in
Canada's health systems.

For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090,
ext. 448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca

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