New tool tackles major barrier to health innovation adoption in Ontario

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By Elise Johnson

Procurement myths are well-known barriers to innovation adoption in Ontario. A new tool is available to help hospitals pull innovation into Ontario’s health care system faster, improving patient care and health system efficiency.

The Art of the Possible: A Quick Reference Guide to Ontario Broader Public Sector Procurement Myths, created by the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO), offers straightforward explanations and supporting resources to facilitate hospital procurement of new health technologies or innovations.

In a 2016 survey across CAHO members, Ontario’s 23 academic research hospitals, 76 per cent of respondents identified policies, directives and procurement rules as major hurdles to innovation adoption within their organizations. Aiming to address this challenge, CAHO convened a small panel of experts to develop a quick reference guide with the goal of dispelling myths and identifying what’s really possible when it comes to procurement in Ontario.

“Health care organizations are risk averse by nature, and this also permeates approaches to procurement,” says Sarah Friesen, President of Friesen Concepts and procurement expert on The Art of the Possible development panel. “By debunking some of the more prevalent myths, this guide will increase confidence in exploring innovation procurement opportunities that can improve patient outcomes and deliver value for money.”

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The Art of the Possible guide is part of CAHO’s ongoing efforts to remove barriers to business and promote innovation adoption within Ontario’s health care system through its work as an Innovation Broker with the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist.

CAHO has made significant contributions to Ontario’s innovation ecosystem during its first year as an Innovation Broker, including the following accomplishments:

  • Published a list of critical problems within CAHO hospitals that require innovative solutions
  • Established a streamlined intake process for testing innovative technologies that gives innovators simultaneous access to CAHO members
  • Made over 40 connections between innovators and CAHO hospitals to pursue opportunities for validation testing of new technologies within clinical settings
  • Fostered a culture of innovation adoption within CAHO hospitals by providing tools and resources to address barriers, including The Art of the Possible guide

“Our Innovation Broker work is motivated by our commitment to provide patients with the best available care and to help build the health system of the future,” said Brian Mackie, co-chair of CAHO’s Innovation Broker Task Force and Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Baycrest Health Sciences. “Ontario’s sickest and most complex patients depend on the specialized care that academic research hospitals provide and this work is helping us pull new technologies into our hospitals faster so that we can do a better job delivering on that promise.”

CAHO hospitals play a unique and vital role in the province’s health care system. Collectively, they provide specialized patient care services, train the next generation of health care professionals and conduct leading-edge research to discover tomorrow’s care today.

“The Innovation Broker work provides an opportunity for CAHO hospitals to strengthen the business side of Ontario’s health care system by facilitating connections between innovators and our members,” said Michelle Noble, Executive Director of CAHO. “This work exemplifies the role of academic research hospitals in building a healthier, wealthier and smarter Ontario.”

CAHO is calling all innovators with an innovation that will help improve care and increase efficiency in Ontario’s health system to submit a request for a validation test site. Visit CAHO’s Innovation Broker webpage for more information.

Elise Johnson, Communications Advisor at the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO).