Peter Adams pt. 1: [Full interview transcript]

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Peter Adams is a senior executive leader in technology business development with experience spanning bioengineering, sales and marketing management, entrepreneurship, consulting and general management. At MaRS, Peter provides counsel to Canadian Healthcare IT Startups in business development, business process and funding strategy from idea through to commercialization. Currently, he is spearheading an initiative with Ontario’s health-care leaders to unite the system in innovation adoption. Read Peter’s full bio here…

Click here to watch part one of Peter’s interview, “Health Tech and Improving Well Being.”

Peter: My primary role is an advisor to healthcare IT startup companies. In health IT and this area, it’s really hard for startups to get engaged with the healthcare process and similarly, it’s very difficult for healthcare to get access to the best ideas. So we’re creating a social business network for healthcare which actually brings those two together to be able to crowdsource the best ideas and crowdsource the best people at the right time in that innovation journey.

Ramona: How are new IT technologies being used in the healthcare system?

Peter: When I grew up, we thought of healthcare as doctors and nurses, hospitals and our mum. So if there was ever a health problem in our family, we went to either a physician or our mum. Or even if our grandparents, the aged, were sick, it was either the mother that took care of them and managed that or the doctor. The internet and the new knowledge-based economy has really changed that dramatically because we’re all now more aware of (a) either how healthy or unhealthy we are and (b) there’s a myriad of solutions available to us. So there’s that whole self-awareness has changed everything. It’s actually changed the ecosystem of influence. The original ecosystem was the one I talked about but now, the bigger ecosystem is how can healthcare IT technology help families, communities, employers, government and industry to network together to create a better experience of well-being and healthcare delivery. So everything is radically turned on its head and it’s evolving as we speak.

We all know about the wonderful world of apps that are developing around healthcare. There are 40,000 healthcare apps. Arguably, many of them don’t have much benefit, but there are some in the spectrum that are creating benefit. I think the most important ones that are coming out now that the government’s focussed on is how we make those transitions of care very effective so when you move from a hospital, you come home, you might not think about it but there’s actually a care record in addition to all the equipments and the process of what you do when you’re there. All of that can be informed and managed by healthcare technology.

Another important thing that we’re seeing right now is, a big issue is when you go and see your doctor, people only remember 20 per cent of what the doctor tells them. And then when you go home, whether you actually order and take your medication or take it as prescribed, or when something goes wrong, you have a way to interact. Healthcare information technology really help that process, because that process is really broken, I think all doctors agree. They really want to be in touch with the patient after they leave to see what’s happening. I think that’s the missing piece.

Ramona: Healthcare, more than almost any other field, has so much going on it seems so exciting that there is this technology and there is this IT available and yet it seems like you still see doctors running around with pagers and some of the uptake seems very slow. Why do you it is that we see all this great technology and yet we don’t necessarily see it in front of our eyes in the healthcare system, in the hospitals?

Peter: Doctors and nurses, their job is always at the level of saving life and protecting life so they have serious issues and serious mandates that they have to operate against. So trying anything new, if they have the time to try something new, it needs to be really simple, it needs to deliver immediate value and not slow their work down. Technology isn’t something that just makes a change, there’s a whole change of care and flow and business process that has to happen as well. So to actually retrofit, you don’t just retrofit technology and plug it in and everything changes. There’s a whole system change that has to go on. With business process change and healthcare, it’s not just like industry. There are regulatory guidelines that they have to follow and they have to make sure when they change those processes, they’re still following the guidelines. So a shift isn’t a real simple, quick and dirty plug-in something electronic and life changes in five minutes. It’s kind of complicated.

Ramona: In parallel with the shift towards adopting the technology, the technology also allows for shifts in what gets funded and shifts in the way we even think about that healthcare model. Can you talk about the relationship between healthcare IT and this movement towards preventative care or self-directed care?

Peter: If you can imagine a chart where you’re on the right, you’re in the ICU and on the left you’re healthy at home and all the things in the middle – post-surgical, family doctor, maybe long-term care. As you go from the right to the left, the cost of care gets higher. In the ICU it’s the highest and back at home, it’s the cheapest, obviously. But also, the quality of life at home is better and the quality of life in the ICU is not good. I think the role of IT is to make that shift.

The current investment is over here [pointing to the right] in what’s called the “acute care setting.” And yet, that particular setting, there’s no more money to invest in that. People in that sector are working as hard as they can, you can’t really change anything other than to tweak some efficiencies with technology. All you can do is try to move them back to home and maintain them at home being well. So from a system perspective, we really need to shift the investment to actually create things like early detection, education about nutrition, remote diagnosis or personal diagnosis. As you can see on iPhones there’s all these diagnostic tools so all of that shift is very expensive to fund it but it needs to be funded because that’s the only solution to the real problem.

The good news is we have a crisis. The bad news is we have a crisis. Crisis drives innovation so this is a time for innovation.


  • There are flaws with the efficiency of our healthcare system and healthcare IT can offer solutions
  • Because of nature of working in the healthcare system, these improvements must be easy to use and quick to implement
  • Need to help people before they come into the hospitals, help improve their health at home
  • Apps are being developed to help educate people on medication and personal health
  • Technology can also be used to improve the connection between physicians, their patients and the system in general

Click here to watch part two of Adam’s interview.


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