Innovation in Healthcare: Technology, Infrastructure, and Financing

Date: April, 2012
Filed Under: Canadian Industry Expertise, Featured Articles & News

Construction of one of the greenest and most technologically advanced health care buildings in North America was announced this past February in Stouffville, Ontario. Canadian developer DCL Equity Partners is looking at incorporating geothermal and solar energy, rainwater harvesting, and LED lighting into the building.

At a time when governments around the world are searching for new and cost-effective ways to enhance their healthcare systems, Canadian firms are developing and delivering innovative, cutting-edge products and services to growing list of global clients.

Canada has developed world-leading offerings in the life sciences/medical devices, eHealth/mHealth, and infrastructure sectors.

Life Sciences/Medical Devices

With some 1,500 firms producing everything from medicines to medical equipment, plus more than 100 research institutes and 30,000 scientists, Canada has one of the largest life sciences industries in the world.

Key strengths include the design and manufacture of advanced healthcare equipment and devices. Of particular note are innovations and capabilities in four niche areas:

  • · Cardiovascular
  • · Medical imaging
  • · In-vitro diagnostics
  • · Rehabilitative/assistive devices


Canada has particular capabilities in developing real-time, non-invasive technology for use in treatments. For example, Toronto-based Spectral Diagnostics Inc. is on the leading edge in the in-vitro, rapid diagnosis of illnesses such as the West Nile virus. And Winnipeg-based IMRIS Inc. provides image-guided therapy surgical theatres for the neurosurgical, cardiovascular and neurovascular markets, with export success in markets including in France, Germany, Italy, India, China and the United States.


Where healthcare meets the Internet, you’ll find electronic health (eHealth: electronic management of healthcare information) and mobile health (mHealth: using mobile communication and devices for providing healthcare services or achieving health-related objectives).

For the 250-300 export-ready Canadian companies in this space, the global market opportunity is massive.

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group pegs the global eHealth products and services market at $96-billion, with 95 per cent of this market in industrialized countries. Nearly half of the developing world markets, estimated at $4-billion, are in only four countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

And according to a February 2012 GSMA/PwC report, expected global mHealth revenues are US$23 billion across all stakeholders—mobile operators, device vendors, healthcare providers and content/application players—by 2017.

By then, it says, “the largest markets for mobile health services will be Europe and Asia-Pacific (APAC) with 30 per cent market share each, followed by the developed markets of North America (USA and Canada) with 28% share. Latin America and Africa will comprise seven per cent and five per cent share respectively.”

Canada, with its long history of telecommunications innovation and expertise, is well positioned to capture market share, due in large part to its strong software developer community, especially in mobile communications. Many firms have deep expertise in integrating medical devices with information and communications technologies to provide the best in life-saving and cost-cutting services. For example: Calgary Scientific Inc. (web and mobile enablement software), ANT Wireless Inc. (ultra-low power wireless networking solutions), VitalHub Corp. (software linking hospital electronic medical records to wireless mobile devices) and Telus Health (healthcare solutions ranging from electronic patient records, to remote patient monitoring, to pharmacy management).

And building on Canada’s 30 years of proven telemedicine deployments, Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) provides live, two-way videoconferencing systems and related diagnostic equipment used by health care professionals and patients for clinical care and distance education.


Increasingly, governments worldwide are considering public-private partnerships (P3s) as a way to reduce healthcare costs while still investing in significant healthcare infrastructure projects. The Canadian P3 model is highly regarded internationally, having been tested through more than 50 Canadian hospital projects since 2003, valued at a total of more than $18 billion—mainly in Ontario, but also in British Columbia, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

One current P3 project is the new Montreal University Hospital (CHUM) research centre, one of the largest university hospital centres in North America with 772 individual rooms housing administrative, teaching and research activities. Costing $584 million, it’s slated for completion in September 2014. Design and build services are a Dessau and Pomerleau joint venture, with Verrault providing construction services, and Lambert Somec Inc. installing HVAC equipment.

Another significant Canadian capability is “greenbuild” expertise, incorporating design and technologies to help reduce loads on the power grid, reap significant energy cost savings, and comply with LEED certification. This adds value to clients’ projects by minimizing the impact of construction on the environment and the community, while bringing sustainable operations to healthcare facilities.

Firms such as Diamond and Schmitt Architects, HDR Architects, PCL Construction, SNC-Lavalin, EllisDon, are some of the Canadian industry leaders involved in architecture, engineering and construction of PPP and greenbuild projects.

Guelph, Ont.-based RWDI is a unique engineering consulting firm that specializes in the effect of wind and other environmental factors (such as sun, noise, vibrations and airborne contaminants) on large builds such as hospitals, using such tools as wind tunnels and computer simulations to inform both exterior and interior design. “I consider [a hospital] to be a building under attack by itself,” says Dr. Anton Davies, vice president.

“In North America, it’s very common for us to be involved in projects, but overseas it is new,” he says. Export opportunities are huge, challenging projects with a real need for good design, he says, “but there’s also a need in that there’s nobody else in the market doing what we do.”

Some of the Key Healthcare Players in Canada:


  • · Circle Cardiovascular Imaging Inc.
  • · Coronéo Inc.
  • · Neovasc Inc.


Medical Imaging

  • · IMRIS Inc.
  • · Novadaq Technologies Inc.
  • · Resonant Medical Inc.
  • · Sentinelle Medical Inc.


In-Vitro Diagnostics

  • · MedMira Inc.
  • · Response Biomedical Corp.
  • · Spectral Diagnostics Inc.


Assistive/Rehabilitation Devices

  • · Theralase Inc
  • · Thought Technology Ltd.
  • · Xsensor Technology Corp.



  • · Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN)
  • · Calgary Scientific Inc.
  • · ANT Wireless
  • · VitalHub Corp.
  • · Telus Health




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