Transforming health care through innovation

By David Diamond

As President and CEO of Eastern Health, I am thrilled that we have embarked on an exciting innovation journey to transform health care in our province and throughout Canada. This year, we released “Innovating Together: An Innovation Strategy to Guide Creative Thought and Action in Eastern Health: A Living Lab”. This strategy will help us further develop our identity as a Living Lab – or user-centred innovation space.

As a Living Lab, we will harness innovative solutions to improve life for our patients, our health system and our province. Since we started this journey at Eastern Health, we have developed an innovation ecosystem comprised of the other regional health authorities, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information, Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic, Marine Institute, provincial and federal government and government agencies and our private sector strategic innovation partners.


We, along with our partners, are on a mission to improve the health status of Canadians through innovation. To help us achieve our goal, we recognize that we must start looking at ourselves as a Living Lab where opportunities to come up with innovative ideas and have access to innovative health-care solutions are accessible to all our employees throughout the organization.

Our strategy has four pillars:

  • We will apply a value-based lens to all activities including decision-making and procurement. Value means benefits realized by patients, clients, family members, care providers and the health system compared to the cost. We aim to provide outcomes including better health and increased quality of life to those who receive our services.
  • We will develop and implement a Health Innovation Acceleration Centre. This will be a collaborative environment where ideas are generated, and solutions tested and refined. These innovative solutions are anticipated to have meaningful impact on patient care and quality of life with the potential to impact the broader health-care system and to generate economic or commercial value and benefit.
  • We will cultivate a culture of innovation. We believe that our staff are key to helping us grow a culture of innovation from within. We will encourage all employees to be creative in their daily work and will provide them with the opportunities to do so.
  • We will build partnerships to support economic growth. Meaningful partnerships are essential to the successful functioning of an ecosystem and we are excited to work with a variety of partners including our 10 vendors of record, members of the local innovation system, the provincial government, post-secondary education institutions, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology and Innovation (NATI), the start-up community and many others. Through partnerships, we can find innovative solutions to health-care challenges for the benefit of our patients, clients and long-term care residents.

The support of our partners in our innovation ecosystem has been integral to our success to date. Partnerships have resulted in signed agreements with several partners for the development of health-care technologies in the areas of cancer care, diabetes management, cybersecurity, emergency management and many others. We are also active in the clinical trials space in pharmaceuticals and we would like to expand our footprint further into device and software research and development.

At Eastern Health, we are excited to continue generating ideas and to create products with our partners that can be sold into the broader market where there is revenue potential and job opportunities in research and development. For example, we have had tremendous success with MyCCath, a secured, web-based IT solution for clinicians which has improved workflow and scheduling at the cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, NL. Working in partnership with MOBIA Technology Innovations, MyCCath has resulted in reduced overtime expenses within the cath lab as well as cost savings and greater bed capacity at hospitals across the province. As a result, within six months inpatient wait times for cath lab procedures were reduced by 56 per cent across the province. In addition, our partnership with Medtronic Integrated Health Solutions, will help us commercialize this technology so that other jurisdictions can use it to improve cardiac care for their patients.

The primary goal of our innovation strategy is to improve outcomes for our patients. They are at the centre of everything we do, whether it is purchasing a specific outcome for patients or working directly with patients to determine what technologies will work best for them and the care they require. Innovation is about having a meaningful impact on our patients, clients and their families’ lives, quality of care and quality of life.

With support from our Board of Trustees and involvement of the executive team, innovation is underpinning everything we do at Eastern Health – whether that is improving access to services or improving quality and safety or improving sustainability. I am looking forward to working closely with all our partners to transform health care and to improve health outcomes for our patients, clients and residents. Together, we are making Eastern Health a centre of excellence for innovation.

I encourage you to review our strategy and our new web site at ri.easternhealth.ca.

David Diamond is President and CEO, Eastern Health.