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Dr. Roger Goldstein, right, speaks with his patient Christina Hamann, the first person in North America to undergo a procedure to implant a pacemaker in her diaphragm to help her breathe, in hospital in Toronto December 22, 2009.
Dr. Roger Goldstein, right, speaks with his patient Christina Hamann, the first person in North America to undergo a procedure to implant a pacemaker in her diaphragm to help her breathe, in hospital in Toronto December 22, 2009.

Debate

A potential 'petri dish' for innovation Add to ...

Neil Fraser, the president of Metronic of Canada, told a Toronto business audience Tuesday that he thinks the country could become a petri dish for innovation in the field of health-care delivery.

The science behind pacemakers was developed in Toronto, and had the technology been commercialized in this country it could have fostered a Canadian-headquartered firm contributing billions to the economy and tax revenues, he said.

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"We need to get our heads around the idea that investments in innovation - whether new software, medical devices or best practices - will save money over conventional approaches in the long run, with an investment in capital and process improvement," Mr. Fraser said in a copy of his speech.

"Research In Motion, the darling of technology innovation in Canada, has created thousands of jobs for Canadians because it is leveraging Canada's incredible talent pool and commercialized its innovations," he said. "This same opportunity exists in health care."

Mr. Fraser spoke about Medtronic's founder Earl Bakken, who developed the first battery-powered pacemaker in the United States in the 1950s, with few barriers.

"Earl didn't have to conduct a multimillion-dollar clinical trial; he didn't have to wait several years to get regulatory approval; he didn't have to develop health economic data to support the cost effectiveness; he didn't even have to convince Medicare or the hospital of the value in funding the device."

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