SHA leading health and bioscience network with $3.5M in federal funding

Pictured is Prince Albert's Victoria Hospital. The Government of Canada said commercializing technologies through the CAN Health Network will benefit not just healthcare providers, but hospitals across the country. (Herald file photo)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is leading a network of organizations across western Canada to develop technological solutions to common challenges in the health system.

The federal government announced on Monday in Vancouver that it’s giving $3.5 million to two healthcare providers—the SHA and Trillium Health Partners in Ontario—to lead the CAN Health Network.

The SHA is working with Alberta Health Services, the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, the O’Brien Institute of Public Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

The health and bioscience partnerships will collaboratively research, refine and develop medical technologies, benefitting not only Canada’s healthcare system, but also its business growth.

Suann Laurent, chief operating officer of the SHA, said finding common challenges in healthcare is part of the project.

“We will be putting together a structure and a process to talk about some of those solutions and what they could look like,” she said.

Laurent said an example is what digital technology works best for radiology: using x-rays or ultrasounds, for example, to spot tumours or to monitor a unborn baby.

“We want to make sure that we’re looking at solutions that actually solve the problems that we have to make things better for the people we serve, but also to create capacity in Canada’s private sector for identifying, developing and scaling solutions.”

She added working together with others in healthcare is more efficient.

“It certainly can leverage a lot more strategically and then (we) don’t have to do duplication in terms of what works somewhere will be scalable somewhere else,” she said.

Laurent emceed the announcement on Monday morning.

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, Mary Ng, said it’s important for business growth.

“Our government is making these investments to scale up companies and create good jobs for Canadians,” she said in a news release. “Companies will scale up and be anchored in Canada, commercializing technologies that can be exported around the world.”

The release said medical technologies contribute $500 billion annually to the international market.

The $7 million from the federal government is part of the $20 million proposal. The funding is in place until 2022.

The news release said it’s planning to expand to Quebec, Atlantic Canada and northern Canada, but the success of this first step will determine future funding.