Canadian doctor previews the future of our healthcare

Dr. Brian Goldman opens conversations of healthcare efficiency and disruptive innovation

Brian Goldman used examples of companies like Uber creating new alternatives to existing systems to show how disruptive innovation can benefit programs in the Canadian healthcare system. (Justin Moore/The Omega)

Is the public healthcare system on its way toward full digitization? Will long clinic waits and concerns over the low availability of family practitioners a thing of the past?

Canadian physician and host of popular CBC radio show, White Coats, Black Art, Dr. Brian Goldman spoke to a crowd of Kamloops locals on the changing landscape of Canada’s public healthcare system, as part of TRUSU’s Common Voices Lecture Series.

Goldman prefaced his lecture by admitting a fault he has witnessed in the medical realm, that change can be difficult to set in motion among his fellow practitioners. 

“People who run healthcare are risk-averse,” said Goldman, “Their first thought is ‘Oh it’s too risky.’ As if to say that everything they’re doing is just fine right now.”

While focused on the medical field, Goldman laid down the groundwork for what is known as “disruptive innovation.” This term was first defined and analyzed by American scholar Clayton M. Christensen.

Disruptive innovation is innovation that creates a new market and in time disrupts existing markets thus displacing those who have already established leading status. An example that Goldman gave the Kamloops crowd was Uber replacing the traditional taxi industry.

How does this relate to the current landscape of Canada’s healthcare system? Goldman suggests that this notion of disruptive innovation has been functioning in our medical system for decades. 

“One of the ways to sort of surf through disruptive innovation is to get paid to think, not to do,” Goldman said.  “The more you get paid to do, the more you get seduced by providing services and often those services are at the bottom of your training and scope.”

Example number one Goldman presented was the innovation of laparoscopic surgery and the added benefits to recovery and efficiency for both patient and physician. This early example of disruptive innovation is an excellent example of how this can benefit care for patients.

Goldman suggests that our smartphones have become such a powerful machine that they may be able to replace a number of follow-up exams, thus reducing unnecessary wait times.

The creation of B.C.-operated “virtual house call” company Viva Care, eases the heavy traffic of walk-in clinics with their video-chat-style consulting. These services can be used for prescription refills, lab result follow-ups and medical advice.

Goldman spoke highly of the chance to digitize the medical world he works daily in. With the technologies that are available, often at far more cost efficient prices than the equipment currently being used, why not use it?

The future of Canada’s public healthcare system has a lot of growing to do and if open to change, can see this growth realized by accepting possible disruptive innovations with open arms.