Peter 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 two of Peter’s interview, “Health Tech and Improving Well Being.”
Ramona: What do you see being the next big trend or the next, widely-adopted healthcare IT development?
Peter: I would have to say modelling – modelling is really, really big. So, the whole design of systems, modelling the whole of healthcare systems which will inform investment. Right now, it’s very challenging to know which buttons to push with money to make big changes in the system because they’re incredibly complex because it’s a system where it’s not just like industry. You imagine you’re building widgets, every widget you build is custom. Every care delivery is custom. And each time you’re delivering it, you’re delivering it with different combinations of people. It’s very complex.
So, I think that modelling of the system, modelling of the body, and how interventions change that system – it could be a body, it could be a whole healthcare system – all of that’s going to be a very big trend in the near future, which will inform us how to really tune it up.
Ramona: What do you see then, with the advancements in healthcare IT, the big shifts that we’re going to see?
Peter: Healthcare, particularly in Ontario, is focussed on the acute, the hospital setting. That’s where 80 per cent of the investment goes, 80 per cent of that goes into chronic conditions. This whole idea of keeping people well, and stopping them from getting into those chronic conditions and shifting them over to here in that wellness space, that is where the investment needs to happen. Right now the investment is here [points to left] we need to put the investment at the front end now in that self-directed, personalized medicine, personalized care, self-directed care space. That’s the challenge.
The ultimate goals is we want as human beings, we want to be in charge of our health. We want to have those early warning systems. The more we trust that information, the more accurate it is – the more real time and the well-informed it is – we will take action before it becomes a problem. Quite simply, that’s it to me. It’s really something that drives self-awareness and then empowers that change.
Ramona: From a practical standpoint, because you are working with these startups this world that’s so hands-on, what do advice do you have for people who are frustrated with the system, who are frustrated with how long it takes for them to go see primary care or how long it takes for them to go see an expert, and what steps might they be able to take? What technologies might be available now, or soon?
Peter: Gosh, that’s a really controversial question. So a lot of people go to Google and you know, there are good results from Google but there can be dangerous results to Google. So I have to say that you really have to persist with your primary physician if you’ve got one. I think it’s really about persistence. There are tools that are becoming available so that you can start to do some basic self-diagnosis, there are lots of online tools. That takes away the stigma of being frightened of going to the doctor or even frightened of the results. You can start to look at “how am I doing” and make your own judgements or even perhaps talking to a friend to help you get something done. But there’s no question that the environment is really tough. It’s really tough to get to specialists.
Ramona: Even when you get to emergency, and there are people getting so frustrated with primary care that they end up in emergency and then emergency gets bogged down – is there a way that IT is resolving some of those issues?
Peter: Yeah. The wait-time in emergency is one of the number one priorities in the healthcare system. There are two factors two it: who shows up up to emergency? Do they really need to be there. And as you mentioned, a lot of people are being told to go to emergency if they don’t have a family care practitioner, right. So the emergency block, if you think of the hospital and the whole system, it’s really like a drainpipe. It’s not just the emergency itself, it’s what’s happening downstream that’s blocking it and healthcare IT is really helping to manage that flow. It’s about giving real-time information at different points of care. What’s was going on was that people, or at least physicians and nurses, were spending 20 per cent of their time waiting for other people, information and things – assets, equipment – that’s a huge waste of time. The actual locating, management of that process through IT has changed all that. So that’s one thing that’s speeded up the system.
The other thing is the actual ER, the triage technology, is how do you prioritize your patients? There is a lot of technology that is now supporting rostering doctors depending on the condition of the patient that comes in and that’s also created like a 20 per cent efficiency increase, so things like that are helping.
- It is a natural human need to be in control of our health
- In Ontario, the current healthcare system has lots of areas for improvement and IT is helping
- Technology exists now to help people understand their health better – although they should always consult their primary physician for more information
- Healthcare IT looks at the whole system and finds the areas where efficiency can be improved (Ex. by prioritizing patients differently, helping doctors locate equipment etc.)
Click here to watch part one of Peter’s interview, “Health Tech and Improving Well Being.”