By: Sachin Aggarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Think Research

The COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed the importance of digitizing healthcare in Canada and ensuring our system can keep pace with rapidly changing industry needs. When the pandemic hit, the disconnect between healthcare systems was glaring, and left us unable to properly manage vaccines, track variants, who was getting sick, and how the virus was being transmitted, which dramatically slowed our response.

We must do better.

We need to overhaul our disparate, ill-equipped healthcare system with one that standardizes data and enables seamless communication between software systems that don’t normally talk to each other. This will be to the benefit of both patients and healthcare providers, as it will enable them to easily access critical information like medical records and test results seamlessly and securely in just a few clicks, regardless of when or where they received treatment. Connecting the dots and ensuring healthcare systems in communities across the country can communicate is pivotal to preventing healthcare spending waste and making tangible improvements to patient care moving forward.

It appears that change could be coming – a recent report from a federal advisory group has recognized the necessity to digitize healthcare in Canada. The group is urging the federal and provincial governments to create a national agency that will set standards for the collection and sharing of health data to improve patient care and respond more quickly to future threats, including pandemics. The report also said governments across Canada need to change privacy laws to enable health records and data to be more easily shared with patients, medical providers, and public health officials.

While it’s great to see the federal government finally acknowledge a major problem that private companies in the healthcare industry have been flagging for years, creating an agency to overhaul Canada’s healthcare system and set the standards for data sharing is simply not the answer.  

Going that route will be too slow, too expensive and won’t set us up to move at the pace of technology or meet the expectations of today’s patients. The key to effectively digitizing Canada’s healthcare system and ensuring information is secure, yet accessible is involving private industry from day one. The private sector holds the majority of critical data needed to connect the dots and already has much of the technology, resources, and know-how in place. We’re equipped to make change much quicker. 

At Think Research, we’ve been successfully enhancing communication between Canada’s healthcare systems for years. Our eReferrals product is one example. eReferrals enables physicians to find and refer patients to specialists in their area directly from most electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Referring physicians can track the status of referrals to ensure appointments were successful and keep patients informed with automatic notifications on a patient portal. The solution keeps everyone informed and makes information sharing easy – this is what needs to happen on a broader scale across our healthcare system.

If the federal government moves forward with plans to overhaul Canada’s healthcare system without companies like Think at the table, it will not succeed. The system will remain antiquated and out-of-date. We’re ready to work together to ensure the future of healthcare in Canada is secure, smart, and streamlined.

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Originally published on LinkedIn. For more insights, follow Sachin on LinkedIn and Twitter.