A More Favorable Diagnosis For Innovative Healthcare


Brad Porter, Global Chief Executive, Orion Health.

Almost everyone seems to believe fixing healthcare is near impossible. To me, it’s not broken. Approaching these genuine, significant issues from a negative perspective doesn’t fill you with hope to reinvigorate the health sector.

In healthcare, frontline workers, administrators and change managers often work a tireless—and thankless—job. It’s not surprising nor unreasonable to feel defeated.

While respecting this, I urge those who consider healthcare as broken to ask themselves what we gain from this defeatist view. It’s a mindset that removes any sense of value in immediate action. We can’t afford to ignore those who are acting now—enacting life-changing and lifesaving moments in healthcare settings every day.

I prefer to see a more favorable diagnosis for healthcare. It’s not so difficult to believe that, instead of being broken, the current state of healthcare settings is a symptom, not the cause.

I ask all our employees to take this view alongside our steadfast commitment to using technology to drive new paths of thinking and acting. I remind my team that, during adversity, the power to transform the landscape we work within lies in our actions. That’s what drives us to relentlessly innovate with health technology.

Antiquated technologies linger in many health systems, making improving productivity difficult. Ask yourself, does the banking sector settle for this level of digital naivety? Do you accept less than the most contemporary technology for your personal needs?

Equipping healthcare providers with adequate, streamlined technology allows them to deliver care and expertise most effectively. When clinician and technology capability match, the clinician can focus on what matters—the patients.

Every healthcare system is unique, but the pandemic highlighted similarities in their shortcomings beyond their use of out-of-date tech—unbearably long wait times, frontline worker burnout and inequitable access spring to mind. For example, New Zealand’s health system has struggled to meet minimum wait time targets for emergency departments (EDs). In December 2022, more than 36% of ED patients waited over six hours to be seen at one Auckland hospital. In 2023, 11 districts experienced a 10% or higher increase in ED lengths of stay from the prior year.

There are parallels in California, too. In the last decade, the number of EDs in the state decreased by almost 4%. In comparison, ED visits increased by 7.4%. When outdated systems don’t meet current needs, we experience consequences—like the potentially dangerous slowing down of treatment plans.

But although the patient experience data is undoubtedly grim, it’s a useful tool for transforming the system. My vision of reshaping healthcare includes innovatively using meaningful data while placing more importance on patient and clinician empowerment.

Contrary to popular portrayal, there are examples of healthcare systems across the globe that demonstrate the success of innovative technology in enhancing their outcomes. Digitized health systems can decrease wait times drastically. We’ve seen this in their implementation across parts of the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. in our work with them. However vast, complex and daunting the task of streamlining technology in healthcare appears to be, it’s imperative to improving patient care.

Our client, Alberta Health Services (AHS), a fully integrated health system in Canada, is one example of the successful digitalization of healthcare systems. In innovating to prioritize patient empowerment and upgrading redundant technologies, AHS improved their services—and had a dynamic edge when battling the peaks of Covid-19. I believe this also serves to illustrate how patient data can be shared across various healthcare communities.

Although Singapore isn’t our partner, I’ve always been fascinated by its impressive healthcare system, which is widely recognized as one of the best in the world. Singapore utilizes advanced technology, such as the National Electronic Health Record, to enhance patient care by expediting diagnoses and establishing a robust, future-ready platform.

Likewise, Sweden’s healthcare system is renowned for delivering top-notch care and optimizing efficiency. It has fully embraced digital innovations, such as the E-Health Record, telemedicine services, digital apps and digital prescriptions, significantly improving access to care while reducing waiting times.

Interoperability, analytics and now artificial intelligence allow us to gain actionable insight into how we can improve care. Not only does this make it quicker and easier for clinicians to make informed decisions, but improved care coordination can better the patient experience.

Careful consideration needs to be taken regarding the security of patient and hospital data. But, embracing data-driven healthcare is necessary to unlock a modern vision of healthcare.

When we uplift patients to become more active in their care and appreciate the importance of their engagement, we see enhanced, efficient health outcomes. Implementing technology that enables people to access their health information, engage in shared decision making with their healthcare providers and proactively manage their health can make significant differences in the overall condition of healthcare.

To transform is to grow. Dragging our feet and letting our fears beat us doesn’t align with the change we need. Let’s use what we have within our grasp to reshape healthcare and enhance the good we have. By empowering patients and clinicians and embracing innovative technology solutions, healthcare can and will no longer need such a dramatic diagnosis as broken.

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