Should Australia Look To Canada For World’s Best-practice In Digital Health?

Australia’s federal and state governments should look to Canada as the template for how best to implement a successful digital health strategy, CEO of the world’s number one health data platform provider, New Zealand’s Orion Health, Brad Porter said in Sydney today.

Mr Porter was speaking on the sidelines of the MedInfo23 conference in Sydney, where Orion Health provided an overview of its central role in the roll out of the highly successful Digital First for Health strategy in Canada’s most-populous province, Ontario, and its work delivering integrated patient-family community-centred care in the province of Alberta.

“I have publicly praised the Albanese Government’s healthcare funding initiatives in the May Budget as an example of what New Zealand’s political parties should be promising ahead of the 14 October election.

“Australia’s States and Territories are also committed to implementing digital health initiatives but like their federal counterparts, and New Zealand, they need to be bolder and move faster.

“Australian governments are investing many hundreds of millions of dollars in digital health, strengthening Medicare – which they should – but if they want to see a real return on investment, they need to look at proven market disruption that has made an impact – that’s Canada.”

Mr Porter said governments shouldn’t be seeing digital as ‘just another IT project’ but rather a way of transforming care delivery, relieving pressure on GPs, Emergency Departments (EDs) and workers in acute settings by triaging needs and directing people to the care they need rather than funnelling through ED waiting rooms – so straight to radiology or a virtual nurse consult. 

Examples north of the 49th parallel include the successful use of Orion Health’s Health Information Exchange in the Canadian province of Alberta, which has led to:

Mr Porter has spent much of the past year on the road meeting with Orion Health’s customers across the world. He has road tripped from Texas to Oklahoma to Albuquerque. 

He attended major healthtech events in Nashville, Chicago and Boston and spent time in the Middle East visiting cutting edge ‘Virtual Hospitals’ and the rollout of the world’s largest ever Health Information Exchange. He has spent time in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England seeing first hand the NHS in action. 

“Canada boasts bold approaches like Ontario’s Digital First Healthcare transformation – which has seen Orion Health deliver its world first at scale Digital Front Door solution to a population of 15 million – as well as Alberta and other provinces rolling out seamless shared care records and province-wide Health Information Exchanges. 

“The Canadian approach has put interoperability at the heart of digital health, and they are now seeing the benefits.”

Australia should look at how Ontario Health Teams are being introduced to organise and deliver care that is more connected to patients in their local communities, Mr Porter said. 

“There are 54 Ontario Health Teams across the province that have been approved through a standardised intake and assessment process.”

The Ontario Digital First for Health strategy provides:

“Digital First for Health is central to the government’s efforts to transform the health care system so that it is integrated, sustainable and patient-centred,” Mr Porter said.

“Strong digital capabilities are a critical enabler for system integration and information sharing within health teams and the healthcare system so that patients have a choice on how they engage with the healthcare system and receive seamless care.”

About Orion Health
Orion Health is a leading global technology company that develops software to support the delivery of optimised healthcare. We provide flexible technology solutions that bring together all types of health data to support the management of individualised patient care across a health system. With 30 years’ experience, Orion Health has the global healthcare experience and capabilities to help organisations realise value quickly, without compromising on the local touch required for successful delivery and support.

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