Canadians are justly proud of living in a country with an effective, equitable healthcare system. But there’s one area where our system sometimes faces difficulty: timeliness of care, particularly around wait times for diagnostic procedures.
“Timeliness is very important in a modern health system,” says Suresh Madan, chief executive officer of MyHealth Centre. “It’s simple: if the patient has a disease and the disease is not attended to in time, it gets worse. By providing timely care, we can solve a lot of crises before they become crises.”
That simple mandate is what led Mr. Madan to found MyHealth Centre in 2013. At the time, he managed a private investment fund where he followed with interest a major health company that had been purchased by a large pension fund. But there was one part of the company’s business the pension fund wasn’t interested in: a small chain of six diagnostic imaging clinics with locations in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and London, Ont.
Mr. Madan, along with several physician friends, saw an opportunity. They pooled their resources, acquired the clinics and MyHealth Centre was born.
Today, boasting 41 locations across Ontario, with more on the way, MyHealth Centre operates under the provincial health system, with more than 10,000 doctors referring patients to its locations.
The company says its locations are the only independent health facilities that are accredited with commendation. “This distinction attests to the highest standard of infection prevention, cleanliness, safety and comfort,” the company states.
Most procedures MyHealth Centre offers are covered by OHIP — but it’s in the delivery of those procedures where the company has innovated. One example Mr. Madan cites is a robust analytics system that the company has developed to predict spikes and troughs in demand for different services throughout the year.
“There is strong seasonality for a lot of procedures,” he says. “So when there are high demands for certain things, you staff them more and keep clinics open longer. When demand is lower, you shift resources to other areas that are in higher demand.”
Cold and flu season is one example; another is the annual flood of snowbirds seeking appointments before heading south for the winter. Yet another is the predictable summertime spike in demand for X-rays related to outdoor sports and activities.
“Our understanding of these demand curves helps us meet demand better, and reduce wait times,” Mr. Madan says.
The company has also invested in cutting-edge diagnostics tools, bringing them to communities where they were previously unavailable. For example, it has pioneered the use of nuclear diagnostic scanning on cardiac patients in Canada, a technology that results in lower radiation doses than previous imaging techniques.
Its innovations have paid off. Revenues increased to $63.8-million in 2019 from $12.1-million in 2014, while OHIP-covered services grew to 1.95 million from 320,000 over the same period.
Of course, COVID-19 has created new challenges. MyHealth Centre had 650 employees before the pandemic hit earlier this year, up from 550 a year earlier and 45 in 2014. To manage the extra demands from COVID-19, another 50 people were hired in recent months.
The company has also seen an explosion in demand for its telehealth division, founded in 2017. Back then, Mr. Madan says, many doctors were hesitant about telehealth and patients weren’t always comfortable if a doctor didn’t see them in person. However, COVID-19 has changed that and Mr. Madan believes the service will continue to be popular beyond the pandemic.
MyHealth Centre has begun providing telehealth services nationwide and is preparing for a “brick-and-click” future, featuring a greater marriage of online and in-person care.
“You can’t do everything remotely,” Mr. Madan says. “You can’t take a biopsy or an X-ray. But you can do a lot we’re not taking advantage of now. And this can do even more to reduce wait times, and improve efficiency and patient care, especially for patients in remote areas. This is the next big growth area.”
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