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State of the Art Health Research and Technologies in Canada

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Health research and technologies help improve patient outcomes and quality of life. Investing in research and clinical trials also helps diversify the economy and make Canada more competitive.


Health research expenditures have increased significantly from 2008 to 2018, from a little over 3.6 million to over 4.13 million. Public sector, private sector, and international funding is available for research. Public sector funding includes provincial and federal financing offered by bodies such as the Canadian Foundation for Health Improvement, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Health Canada. Private funding is offered by charities and industry players such as biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Finally, international funding is offered by international funders and projects.

Health research is conducted by industry researchers, research institutes, and university, clinical, and government researchers.

Health Technologies in Canada

Machine learning has made it possible to turn huge volumes of data into knowledge, including data in data lakes and warehouses and databases. Models and patterns have been developed and recognized that are used for alerting and surveillance, clinical decisions, image processing, and more.

Digital health technologies have become more accessible and include software and hardware systems and applications that can be installed on different devices. They can be used to diagnose, monitor physical activity, analyze images, and more. Devices can be used to measure physical activity such as heart rate, dietary patterns, body fat percentage, and sleep patterns. Health software is also used to store information such as medication orders, observations, laboratory results, treatment plans, and so on. Applications can be used to access different sources to make a decision, including dialysis clinics, rehabilitation centers, ambulatory, hospitals, and provider offices. In general, software is used to record data and access tests, medical records, and data on symptoms and medical conditions. Depending on the type of software, it can be used by administrators, healthcare professionals, or patients.

Bio-sensing wearables are commonly used today and have different applications, from monitoring indicators such as burnt calories, blood pressure, and heart rate to monitoring pill intake and measuring body temperature.

Canadian companies are actively working to develop state of the art health technologies that assist hospital administrators and physicians. Software solutions help healthcare professionals to check case volume and filter cases by different indicators, including services required, procedure, urgency, diagnosis. Software also enables secure communication among pre-admission clinics, registration departments, scheduling offices, physician offices, and other interested parties. Certain types of software have been developed to supplement existing systems such as SIS, Picis, Cerner, Meditech.

Healthcare professionals benefit from a range of handy features such as accurate reporting, integrated e-bookings, and wait list management. There are also features to handle inappropriate referrals and check their status, i.e. whether they are scheduled, declined, accepted, received, or sent. Some software solutions are specifically designed for the regional health authorities to help them locate physicians by factors such as sub-specialty, use of electronic medical records, and practice location. Healthcare solutions also include beneficial features for campaign and contact management, intelligence, messaging. Each physician can set his notification preferences to receive notifications by SMS, e-fax, or email. They can be sent to groups of practitioners or to individual healthcare providers.

Focus Areas and Future Developments

Health Canada has listed a number of focus areas under the Regulatory Review of Drugs and Devices initiative - These include medical device interoperability, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and software as a medical device. Other focus areas include telemedicine, mobile medical applications, and wireless medical devices. The initiative aims to make digital health technologies more readily available.