A recently published CMAJ Q&A with David Naylor, chair of the federal government's new Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation, hinted at how Canada seems to be lagging when it comes to innovating in the health space. Last Thursday I attended the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences annual meeting in Ottawa, which focused on the commercialization of health research for health, economic and social benefit in Canada.
The forum began with a talk by former deputy chief of staff for policy in the office of the Canadian PM, Dr. Peter Nicholson. Nicholson talked about innovation in Canada beyond the health care arena and pointed out that Canadian business has only been as innovative as it has needed to be – i.e. not very – which has resulted in a decades-long low innovation equilibrium. Why? Because we are too comfortable in Canada. Canada’s good fortune in having vast natural resources means that business innovation is just not as pressing a need as for some other countries. And our proximity to the US is no help – Canadian business is comfortably and profitably integrated with US business (“the ‘junior partner’ in North America?” asked Bill Tholl, Founding President and CEO of HealthCareCAN) making it particularly challenging for Canadian business to embrace global business models, keep pace with revolutionary technology, establish significant positions in sophisticated global value chains and develop clusters of skills and infrastructure that enhance innovation, Nicholson said.
It seems that dragging innovation in the health care space is not an anomaly but mirrors that of general Canadian industry. ...continue reading