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Mary Sanagan

Partner, Deloitte’s Digital Care Practice & Member, Digital Health Canada Board

Anatoli Zurablev

Head – Deloitte Digital Health & AI for Canada

Picture a health care system centred on all aspects of the patient’s wellbeing — physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. In this system, precision interventions can get ahead of most diseases, most diagnoses can take place at home using sophisticated tests and tools, and patients own their health data.

That’s what Canada’s health system can look like by 2040, according to the latest report from the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, entitled Forces of Change: The Future of Health. Key to achieving this new model of health care will be digital transformation and data liberation.

Benefits and barriers to digital consumer-centred care

“We have seen the benefits of delivering health care enabled by digital tools and methodologies in different global jurisdictions,” says Mary Sanagan, Partner in Deloitte’s Digital Care Practice and Digital Health Canada Board Member. “These benefits include faster access to services, better health outcomes, greater patient engagement, and reduced health care costs.” Achieving these benefits requires a holistic approach, which considers the journey of a consumer across the health system, beyond the walls of any singular organization or physician’s office.

However, certain structural barriers act as disincentives to realizing these benefits. “In Canada, the health care system is often set up to fund activities by organization or by provider, rather than following the patient journey,” says Sanagan. This results in disrupted transitions in care and misuse of the system services. Additionally, in many countries there are not many incentives geared towards proactively reducing illness and disease.

“They’re much more focused on delivering care than on early detection and prevention, and changing the health culture,” says Anatoli Zurablev, Head of Deloitte Digital Health and AI for Canada. As for digital technology adoption, many health care organizations are struggling with reduced budgets, and have little or no money to spend on innovation. “All of these factors make the provision of health care increasingly unsustainable,” says Zurablev.

In Canada, the health care system is often set up to fund activities by organization or by provider, rather than following the patient journey.

Mary Sanagan, Deloitte’s Digital Care Practice

Digital transformation on a global scale

Technology can play a vital role in overcoming these challenges, and Deloitte is helping organizations around the world do just that by focusing on a few signature issues, such as providing easier access to health care, enabling care models focused on early screening, detection, and prevention, while bringing care closer to home.

“In New Zealand, for example, we’re looking at new models of detecting cancer at earlier stages, as well as more effective patient engagement to reduce costs,” says Zurablev. In Israel, Deloitte is working with Clalit, a health management organization, to deliver an integrated health care model across different touchpoints — primary care clinic, hospital, pharmacy, and health insurance provider. Furthermore, in the United States Deloitte is working with several organizations to change how Medicare is delivered for patients at home, including through virtual care, to provide better care with greater efficiencies and reduced costs.

Closer to home, Deloitte is helping Canadian organizations implement smart hospital enablers such as clinical information systems and shared back office solutions, helping re-imagine care delivery space, and working with the health care workforce to prepare for the disruptive elements of AI, digital platforms, and the tsunami of data. “As health care shifts from responding to illness to sustaining wellbeing, we must consider the impacts on the workforce in terms of role automation, augmented service delivery, and re-examine where and who can deliver services” says Sanagan. 

Aspects of big data are going to play a significant role in how we optimize and deliver health care.

Anatoli Zurablev, Deloitte Digital Health

As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution — at the intersection of machine learning, big data and innovation in the biotechnology and bioengineering spheres — there is a tremendous opportunity to change health care for the better through digital innovation. “Health care is one of the sectors that’s going to be most impacted, and aspects of big data are going to play a significant role in how we optimize and deliver health care,” says Zurablev. 

The challenges will be in the execution. With a breadth of understanding of the complexities of digital challenges in health care, along with its extensive execution experience worldwide, Deloitte can be a valuable partner to Canadian health care providers, organizations, and consumers in making a successful digital transformation.

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