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USA 55, Canada 0

Canada lags behind the USA in EMR adoption

The concept of Canada having an 'innovation gap' might seem like an abstract concept, a theoretical issue that doesn't actually affect you at a practical or personal level.

However consider how important health care is to you and your family. A lack of technology investment and innovation can have a real impact in these types of areas.

For example consider this Globe news piece, about adoption of new EMR (Electronic Medical Record) technology, that is using barcoding to eliminate medication errors.

It highlights that they're following EMR best practices from HIMSS, which has an adoption maturity level that goes up to a final Level 7, where your entire operations are EMR-enabled. Where the USA now has 55 hospitals reporting in at level 7, Canada has yet to report any. None.

The Canadian Institute for Health Improvement estimates that medication errors affect more than one million patients each year, with more than 700 of them dying as a result. The barcoding system is intended to reduce this by eliminating the errors that can occur in more manual processes, so it's quite obvious the societal as well as economic costs of low levels of technology investment and uptake.

The role of government and policy is equally clear. One of the contributing doctors highlights that where the USA has a government-sponsored financial incentive for adoption, Canada does not.

So there's an obvious gap where that type of link and funding should be, otherwise it's not surprising to expect lower levels of performance. If Canada wants the same level of healthcare service, they need to achieve the same type of innovation culture and set these as expectations of a new government.

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