There must be a better way: medical innovation and adoption

Written by Dr. Deepak Kaura on August 27, 2018 for

It could be argued that the health care system is one of the most valued Canadian institutions. And, like anything beloved, we have the highest expectations for it; apply the most ardent of scrutiny to it; and wish it to be its very best.

Despite advances in medical science including the availability of big health data and the emergence of technology including robotics, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, much of what makes up the system has not changed since its inception in the 1950s and 1960s. There must be a better way.

Five years ago, I left Canada to work in Qatar. My goal was to get hands-on experience on a sort of alchemy—turning the impossible into the possible. Inspired by the opportunities that have emerged here in Canada, I have returned, optimistic of our collective future and the possibilities I see on the horizon. As the new board chair of Joule—the CMA’s subsidiary dedicated to supporting physician-led innovation and adoption—my focus will be to work with physicians and the medical innovation community to help shape that future for physicians, health care teams and of course, Canadians.

The best solutions happen when creativity is harnessed in response to a problem. In my opinion we are at a pivotal moment in history. The innovation and technology arcs are taking off exponentially. We cannot continue to lag behind other sectors. If we—physicians—don’t take a leadership position in the evolution of health care delivery, not only will we be impacted by the inevitable progress that is coming, we will have missed an ideal opportunity to shape, not just a better system, but the best system.

I don’t for one minute suggest that the process is easy, but I believe initiative will be rewarded. That’s one of the things Joule is committed to: easing the journey for future and existing physicians at all stages of practice.

There is an African proverb—if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together. This notion of collaboration and support has followed me throughout my career. Those times when I tried to achieve something purely on my own have been far less fruitful than when I engaged others to help solve the challenge. When I went to my mentors and colleagues, I frequently received a “yes.” When I had ideas that I shared and fleshed out with others, they took on a tangible and arguably successful form. Those that seemed like slam dunks but that I neglected to gain support for, failed.

When you are a physician with ideas that can imagine a better way, what you need is a network. Conceptually, this sounds simple enough. After all, a network is simply a group of interconnected people. This may be so, but trusted networks typically take significant time and effort to build. Through Joule, Canadian physicians have direct access to like-minded creative alchemists of the impossible who together can help make great things happen.

If there is one thing that history has taught us it is that often, “impossible” is just a state of mind. At one time, most people were unable to conceive of virtual doctor-patient visits, home diagnostics or the role of artificial intelligence in health care—the list goes on. But, all of these have become possible because someone believed there had to be a better way.

With the leadership and creativity of Canada’s physicians there is no doubt in my mind we will find that better way to a bright collective future.

I do look forward to taking this journey together.