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Q&A with Huda Idrees, Founder of Dot Health, on Health Care Innovation

Huda Idrees
Huda Idrees

Huda Idrees, an engineer and the founder of Dot Health, talks about what changes need to happen within Canadian health care and the experience of an entrepreneur in the current system.

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What future do you see for virtual care and health information platforms? How can these platforms improve health outcomes?

A lot of the issues facing the Canadian health care system aren’t care-related, but rather logistical or operational. Currently, 6.5 million Canadians don’t have access to a primary care provider, and primary care providers are spending tens of millions of hours filling out unnecessary paperwork. Those two stats are tightly related. Where virtual care and health information systems play a role is in alleviating some of these operational issues that are standing in the way of Canadians being able to access care. Adapting technology so each visit takes less time for the patient and the doctor while keeping both well-informed by way of continuous, longitudinal, accessible health records has a direct impact on improving people’s health. 

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How are innovations in health care important to the development and future of care?

People are living longer. This means they also have more years that they’re availing our health care system. Demands on the system aren’t going to slow down any time soon. The only way we can keep up is by constantly innovating on how we deliver care. It’s not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. The same number of health care workers can be made accessible to all Canadians if we improve the process by which they deliver care. Having immediate access to a patient’s health history or having the ability to text or video call a patient dramatically improves the scale at which we can deliver care in this country.

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What inspired you to create Dot Health?

Dot Health came to be because I was helping someone navigate and understand a cancer diagnosis. I didn’t realize that navigating our health care system was as big an issue as it clearly is. Millions of Canadians suffer adverse health effects because they don’t see a health care professional on time, or are unaware of what’s happening in their own care journey. That was the core of Dot Health, and while our business model has changed a lot since the beginning, the core of our mission has stayed the same — keeping patients and their providers informed via access to a complete health record. 

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Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to innovate in the health care field?

Brace yourselves. Health care innovation isn’t for the faint of heart. Had I known half of what I know now about how difficult it is to simply try to do good in this industry, I never would’ve started Dot Health. We need more health care entrepreneurs challenging the status quo to vitalize our publicly funded health care system. We spend billions of dollars on health care every year and yet we have Canadians dying on waitlists. That’s unacceptable, and the change will come from the innovation community.

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