The medical community has been too slow to adopt technologies that could bring them into the modern world, an official of a telecommunications carrier has complained.

“The pace is frustrating,” Joe Natale, chief commercial officer at Telus Corp.[ TSX: T], a major supplier of electronic medical records (EMR) systems for hospitals, doctors and individuals, told the Canadian Telecom Summit on Tuesday.

“I have three girls who can Skype with friends halfway around the world, yet tons of specialist struggle to communicate with general practitioners about their referrals?

Why, he asked can he do banking on a smartphones, yet his doctor’s offices is filed with paper files with records on his family that he can’t access?

Just because Canada has a single-payer medicare system doesn’t mean there can’t be increased innovation, led by the private sector, he said.

Independent labs run tests and diagnostics, governed by provincial guidelines and requirements. People can chose the lab they want. Why not adopt the same approach with wireless medicine and healthcare IT services, Natale asked.

Instead,. provinces pick a single supplier to build a medical system or a platform, and then other software suppliers have to bolt on their applications to it.


Multiple vendors should be licenced to supply services and technologies, he said, having to meet government standards for connectivity. Then let physicians and patients chose the ones they want.

“A significant barrier to transformation is the persistently grudging pace of EMR adoption,” he said, particularly by doctors who practice alone.

Canada has the lowest EMR adoption among G7 countries, he said, which is unacceptable.

It’s time to be more proactive, Natale said, noting that in other countries governments pay extra money to hospitals and doctors who adopt EMRs and show certain practice performance improvements.

“Governments should set the objectives, define the service needs, identify the rate to be paid and then challenge the private sector to deliver the goods,” he said.