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Moving from Disease Care to Health Care: Connecting the Dots Earlier

doctor talking to patient
doctor talking to patient
Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology, and Innovation, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Hector Bremner, CEO of Avricore Health

Hector Bremner

CEO of Avricore Health

We currently have a “disease care” system that treats symptoms, as opposed to a “health care” system that keeps people healthy. This is a problem — and it should not be tolerated.

Ray Dalio may be best known for his company Bridgewater Associates, which he started in his home and is now generating over $46 billion annually in revenue. But he also created a system for decision-making, detailed in a best-selling book.

Two key concepts of Dalio’s book Principles deserve consideration concerning health care today; the first being that truth is essential and the second being that once you identify and confirm a problem within your business, you should not tolerate it.

The truth is that we currently have a disease care system that treats symptoms, as opposed to a health care system that keeps people healthy. This is a problem — and it should not be tolerated.

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology, and Innovation at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce sat down with Hector Bremner, CEO of Avricore Health to discusses current challenges and how innovation can put us back on track.

We’re at critical crossroads. How can we move away from “disease care” and toward “health care”?

Hector Bremner: The fastest way to a true health care system is to refocus efforts on early detection and screening as well as to utilize digital tools to manage data. Patients must have direct engagement. Health care practitioners need to act on evidence, and thought leaders and policymakers need better access to macro-data for effective decision-making.

There are many ways to accomplish this, and patients and health care innovators have led the way outside traditional health care streams with the emergence of direct-to-consumer genetic tests (such as 23andMe), health apps encouraging behavioural and dietary changes (such as Calm and Headspace), and a variety of other products and services.

How can we achieve greater adoption?

There’s no doubt that consumer demand is there. Consumers have voted with their dollars, and health care practitioners and manufacturers have paid attention.

Pharmacogenomics, or the tailoring of medicine to one’s genetics, has experienced large investments and advancements in capabilities. While this leads to better patient access, it only tells you the odds, not the actual results, which at the end of the day is what ultimately matters.

That’s why rapid diagnostics in low-barrier settings, like community pharmacies, are so critical. One solution is HealthTab by Avricore Health, which offers a turn-key point-of-care system for pharmacists to screen and engage with patients. This delivers a new truth: you can access testing and evidence-based care on demand, and make choices leading to healthier outcomes.

Let’s try and connect the dots a little more. You mention sophisticated digital solutions. How do digital platforms and tools play into this? 

The combination of seamless digital tools is critical. We’ve seen the failures of COVID-19 testing in Canada where, as of this discussion, nearly 44 million tests have been acquired with only 1.7 million having been used. We’ve also seen this in the U.S., where controversies arose after test results were reported up to eight weeks after being conducted.

Testing alone is not a strategy, and we must recognize now that fast, equitable access to data ensures we can quickly respond to health issues, avoiding unnecessary and more costly outcomes.

So, what’s the right strategy?

Pharmacies have new ways to deliver services missing from the health care experience today that were often delivered by a family doctor — something few have the luxury of accessing today. If patients can walk into their trusted pharmacy and get service on demand, they are more likely to seek out, and get, the care they need. 

Equally important is generating data for researchers, manufacturers and government in real time, in a real-world setting, to reduce the multi-billion-dollar expense of clinical trials and increase the speed at which products can get to market. Digital tools and onsite diagnostics can achieve this now.

In the spirit of connected health and true health care, would you say that HealthTab is one of the platforms that does the trick?

Absolutely. It’s time to make screening and preventative action the first response to health care, not an ambulance. HealthTab and the community pharmacist are offering a substantial contribution to this effort, and we’re already expanding rapidly through our recent partnership with Abbott to add new instruments and tests, and Shoppers Drug Mart to better support diabetes screening and management.

That said, policymakers, thought leaders and investors must now also join the movement and put their respective efforts behind innovators by supporting companies that get to the truth, see the problems and only tolerate solutions for real health care.

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