A Conversation with Senator Tony Loffreda - Part 3

This is the third and final part of the memorable conversation we had with Senator Tony Loffreda, an independent parliamentarian from Quebec. If you haven't already, you can read part 1 here and part two here.

In this third clip, part of our team talks to him about technology and how it can benefit the healthcare system. We also discuss how platforms like Caring Support can make an important contribution to the resolution of the staffing crisis in the sector.

Caring Support: Do you believe technology can help alleviate the staffing crisis in healthcare?

Senator Loffreda: For sure. I can think of three ways of how technology can help alleviate the staffing crisis and improve healthcare in general.

One, virtual care. If there’s one thing to come out of the pandemic, it’s virtual care. I appreciate not all visits with a doctor or nurse practitioner can be done online, but the pandemic has shown us that some consultations can take place online. I know residents in more remote, northern, and rural areas appreciate not needing to travel long distances to see medical professionals in Urban areas. For example, last year in our national finance committee meetings, I asked officials from Health Canada about federal investment in virtual care. We were told that provinces and territories quickly adapted their approaches at the beginning of the pandemic to support virtual visits. We went from fewer than 5% of visits being virtual to now a range of over half of interactions being done over the phone, video conferencing, or other virtual means. So virtual has become very important in healthcare.

Two, artificial intelligence. Five years ago, the senate’s committee on social affairs, science, and technology published a report on integrating robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing technology into Canada’s healthcare system. The report highlighted how the animation would be essential to making our healthcare system sustainable and play an important role in the future of training and education, as well as services to rural and remote regions, home care, and personalized medicine.

Three, data. We all know the importance of data. In a hospital setting, for example, data can help them prepare for future staffing and care needs. Another example is that we expect more cancer patients in the years to come, based on the data and current trends, so hospitals can prepare for an increased demand for care and services. Finally, we also know how important data modelling has been throughout the pandemic at helping inform decision-makers and Canadians alike, so that’s something we have to pay attention to.

Caring Support: How do you think platforms like our very own Caring Support platform contribute to the healthcare system in the entire country?

Senator Loffreda: First of all I want to say kudos to your team for coming up with the concept of Caring Support. I think your platform shows a lot of potentials, and could certainly help with streamlining the hiring process for healthcare employers by helping them connect more efficiently with prospective employees. I've mentioned it so many times, "we need resources" and I think your platform can accelerate the hiring process and cut a lot of red tape. I have no doubt Caring Support could have been quite useful in the early stages of the pandemic, as provincial governments sought to hire more staff under short notice.

In 2012, years before I was appointed to the Senate, the social affairs committee conducted a review on the 2004 Health Accord and published a 122-page report titled "Time for Transformative Change". There's an interesting passage in the report worth quoting, which 10 years later is as relevant as ever. Senators wrote that many witnesses of the committee said "innovation-based transformation is needed to achieve and sustain the healthcare systems. These witnesses were unequivocal in their insistence that any increases in health care funding be used to promote change rather than maintain the status quo. They, therefore, argued that governments need to focus on creating incentives to transform health care systems. The committee heard that there is a real appetite among health care professionals to truly transform the way that they do business and achieve lasting reform." "The committee believes that the time for transformative change is now".

I hope hospitals, managers, and HR experts will not seek the status quo and be receptive to your platform and any other innovative technologies, and for that matter, consider ways in which Caring Support could be integrated into their own business models. I'm optimistic that they will be interested and consider, after all, innovation, technology, and research, as they have been at the heart of medical advancements and breakthroughs... Congratulations on what you have accomplished and thank you for all that you will do for the healthcare sector moving forward.

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And we've reached the end of this series of clips about the conversation we had with Senator Tony Loffreda about the topics that matter most to us. This was just one of the many conversations we plan to have with influential people in healthcare and key opinion leaders to try and figure out the best way forward for the entire sector and everyone who is part of it.

Thanks for reading!

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