Digital Health: Paving a new way for medical care in Canada

Relative to other OECD countries with universal health-care systems, Canada ranks third highest in spending for health-care expenditure as a percentage of GDP. Despite this investment into our healthcare infrastructure, only 2.5 physicians are available per 1000 population ranking us within the bottom five OECD countries. The low accessibility for medical professionals is reflected as Canada is ranked last for ability of patients to make same-day appointments and across all wait times for access to specialists and elective procedures. Altogether, this points to clear gaps in resources of our healthcare system and slow uptake on operational assets that has ultimately impacted quality of care for all Canadians. 

However, in the last pandemic year, Canada’s healthcare system has made a steep pivot to leverage digital health to provide care for patients and these changes are anticipated to stay and grow. Digital health encompasses all technologies that help to drive improvements in service delivery for patients and medical products. Renewed interest in improving outdated healthcare procedures has put an emphasis on the digital health technologies market with up to $17.8 billion raised globally year to date by start-ups. This has already outpaced funding raised in the previous year and is anticipated to continually grow. In line with this, consumers are also ready to share greater ownership in management of their health. A recent survey found that 90% of consumers are ready and willing to share data collected on their medical devices to healthcare practitioners. 

Adoption of digital health practices can make medical aid more accessible to key stakeholders, but it can also result in economic returns for the Canadian economy indirectly. A recent study determined implementation of electronic health records, over the course of 8 years, has accrued a total of $16 billion in benefits for Canada. Potential benefit valuation includes decrease in unnecessary lab tests, decrease time off work for medical reasons, decrease in travel costs, and increased clinical efficiency. With more digital health innovations to come in the years, we can anticipate even higher cost-savings post-implementation. This will ultimately allow Canada to redirect extra capital in improving and expanding our healthcare services and decreasing the strain currently experienced by the sector. 

While Canada’s digital health market is currently accelerating, the policies to regulate the industry is yet to be updated to keep to pace with market progression. This could ultimately impact implementation timelines and uptake of new technologies. Delays in market entry of digital health technologies could mean many early-stage businesses may be affected financially either through low investor interest or lack of profits for re-investment. As result, these high potential businesses may easily be outcompeted by bigger companies with deeper financial pockets to fund R&D projects. To mitigate this, digital health-oriented businesses can leverage Canada’s SR&ED tax credit to fund projects that could ultimately help to improve their final product. 

For more information on how your company can benefit from Canada’s SR&ED tax credit, reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free consultation!