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Barry Burk


Barry Burk
General Manager, Healthcare Industry
IBM Canada Ltd.


The challenges facing the Canadian healthcare industry are varied and complex, yet there is increasing recognition that resolution lies in advances in information technology. Quality of patient care, patient safety, medical costs and operational inefficiencies are driving the need for catalytic change within the healthcare system and information technology will play a key role in that transformation.

For example, IT is a huge enabler of new models for health care delivery, a central issue in the primary care reform movement currently underway to address the limited access to medical care some Canadians face. Teletriage systems, such as the one in Ontario which allows patients to dial a 1-800 number 24-hour access immediate medical advice, is a fairly simple yet effective front runner of this.

But technology is making it possible for more complex solutions such as videoconference consultation, remote surgery and home diagnoses and monitoring, where blood sugar or blood pressure readings can be electronically transmitted to physicians.

What’s more, taking advantage of technology tools and streamlining IT resources will allow healthcare organizations to develop and deliver better programs and treatments for Canadians in new ways. Harnessing idle power on personal computers to crunch complex algorithms to help identify new drug therapies, or conduct drug testing on a virtual cell are two of the most exciting advances to date.

The bottom line is technology will increasingly have a role to play in the Canadian healthcare system and offers the best medicine for the ills the industry is facing.


 

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