As 2018 comes to an end, Orion Health is taking the opportunity to look ahead and see what the new year may hold for healthcare in Canada. Here are our annual predictions.

  1. Continued expansion of services outside the hospital into the community
    The shift to community care has historically been slow. Mainly because acute care falls under the purview of hospitals with immense political power that naturally are focused on self-preservation, growth and bigger budgets. 2019 will see an increased focus on moving from a physician-focused model toward the community care model. 

    a) When you move from the hospital to the community there is an associated need for adoption of consumer and patient-centric applications. This means a renewed focus on remote Patient Monitoring, e-Referrals, and Community Medication Reconciliation, which bridge care coordination gaps in the healthcare system and empower patients to play a more active role in the management of their personal health. It also means moving away from telehealth, which is based on doling out moments of time at a distance, and not necessarily about the patient experience. The patient-centric model, which recognizes there are multiple players in a patient’s care journey, will also see general physicians moving into the role of “quarterback” to move a patient’s care along.

  2. A robust patient bill of digital rights
    Canadians who pay to access their health data are unaware that they have the right to any of their collected data and health records, any time in an unfettered way. As questions swirl about data ownership, data monetization and data governance, we will see a more cohesive lobby for an official patient bill of digital rights.

  3. Increased focus on enhancing technology’s value — but not for the reason you think.
    Health organizations are finding large swaths of technology are failing to deliver value. Not because of the technology itself — but because of inadequate change management and a lack of alignment between the technology and the direction in which the health sector needs to evolve. This will improve in 2019. There will be a more focused effort on solution adoption by physicians, nurse practitioners and other clinicians. Organizations will rely on vendors to be more than just stewards of data, but also to ensure the technology is designed with interoperability in its DNA to enable improved adoption and reduced effort by end users, making the right thing also the easy thing to do.

  4. AI will help identify issues with medical devices before they become problems
    There are many uses of health data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of them. After a broad media series and investigation into the problems with medical devices this year, Canada’s health minister has vowed to strengthen oversight of certain devices such as pacemakers, implants and insulin pumps. AI has the capability to track and report on these devices and identify issues more quickly than what we’re doing today. But AI requires data. Primary care, acute care and device registries will provide the data source to discover issues with devices and implants. In 2019, we will see more pressure on Health Canada to regulate data on medical devices. We predict there will also be regulatory changes around medical devices as technology progresses.

  5. Provinces will band together to tackle the rising costs of acquiring technology
    Health organizations struggling with ballooning budgets will see little relief, especially as we move to cloud-based technologies that require implementation from a broader, systemic perspective. We anticipate smaller provinces and health authorities will struggle with the cost of acquiring new technology given their size and available resources. As a result, they will move towards cooperative, inter-provincial efforts. For example, Atlantic provinces may make combined decisions about purchasing, even if there will be different adoptions between regions.

  6. A more sweeping shift from big data to actionable data
    The utopian thinking that more transparent data will lead to more patient engagement, and thus better health outcomes, is far from a reality. With neither a mechanism to manage the data, nor extensive medical training among patients, the amount of data gathered without expert insight makes it basically static. In fact, we’re relying on our physicians to review the data and make the right calls. 2019 will therefore see a bigger focus on using analytics, predictive modelling and machine learning to shift our thinking from ‘big data’ to ‘actionable data’ and precision medicine.

  7. Blockchain will become ‘PART’ of the solution 
    Blockchain will see an enhanced applicability in health technology, mainly because it meets the ‘PART’ criteria: Permanent, Auditable, Reliable and Transparent. Blockchain will be a critical way to ensure anyone whoever is touching the data is entering it into something permanent and encrypted. For example, ensuring a more robust record of medical devices. It will allow access from the right parties to mitigate legal and accountability problems. It will also enable future recalls to enhance patient safety and enable researchers to look at variables that can affect health outcomes – such as social determinants of health.

These are some of the positive trends in Canadian healthcare that we see coming to fruition in 2019. And while we are on the topic of health, Orion Health would like to close out the year by wishing you and your loved ones a happy festive season and a healthy new year.