From easier access to medical records to advancements in meditation, Canadian companies are working to revolutionize how we take care of ourselves.
ADAM DUBROWSKI Professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Care Simulation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University
Louis Pasteur is one of my research and innovation role models. Not only because we have a word in the dictionary — pasteurization — that celebrates his work in food preservation and safety, but because he was one of the original thinkers who seamlessly combined research focused on fundamental understanding of scientific problems with innovation that solved issues impacting society. He showed us that we do not have to choose between being a researcher and an innovator — we can be both.
Along with many of my colleagues, I aim to be a researcher and a disruptive innovator, applying new technologies and theories to the health profession. The road to this stage of my career has allowed me to see and contribute to the evolution of so many areas of my field, including technology and education. There is a complex relationship between science, real world problems and innovation, which is the birthplace of incredible development.
Over time, my passion, and the focus of my career, has become simulation-based health professions education. It is often said that “practice makes perfect” and simulation does just that. Simulation is a powerful tool for training health care professionals. Trainees become proficient in performing routine skills, such as catheter insertion, while experienced professionals can maintain skills required less frequently, such as pediatric intubation, or rehearse complex procedures, like tumour removal. This work uses research to find solutions, study their effectiveness and fuel transformation.
Despite these great benefits of simulation, it is expensive and not easily accessible in remote and rural areas. My research explores the application of disruptive technologies, like 3D printing, to make simulation more cost-effective and accessible. For example, a surgeon preparing for a complex surgery would be able to send a patient’s scan to a dedicated digital design laboratory, which would generate a 3D printable model of the treatment. The physician can then rehearse the procedure many times before performing it on the patient.
It is this kind of thinking that will help health care to evolve. So many companies are examining the obstacles patients and providers currently face, and are using new technologies and theories to address these problems. The organizations you’ll read about in this magazine just scratch the surface of what’s happening in the sector, and what will continue to happen for many years to come.
In addition to my research career, I have been heavily involved in many leadership roles that put me close to the end-point users of the very innovations I was researching in my lab. This unique mix of research and leadership has highlighted to me the importance of strong partnerships between researchers and end-point users. Although collaborative models, such as living labs, exist and are very effective, they also highlight new opportunities for innovation. Specifically, researchers are good at solving problems through research; however, they are not always good at moving these innovations past the research laboratory. This leaves their partners and end-point users, those who invested in the innovation development process, wanting more. But this means there is fertile ground for entrepreneurship and startups. Working across the fields of rigorous research, practical innovation and entrepreneurship is not an easy journey, but it’s one worth trying. Pasteur remains a strong inspiration for it.