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Ottawa hospital to adopt Israeli innovation strategy

Ottawa Hospital CEO Jack Kitts, centre, vice-president for quality and innovation Alan Forster, left, pose for a picture with Sheba's chief medical officer and chief innovation officer, Eyal Zimlichman. (The Ottawa Hospital photo)

A Canadian hospital will be the first outside of Israel to incorporate a cutting-edge medical innovation strategy that was first developed at the Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv.

The Ottawa Hospital is in the process of adopting the principles of Sheba’s Accelerate, Design, Collaborate Innovation Centre (ARC), which was designed to create solutions for problems that affect the administration of health care around the world.

ARC works to connect the doctors who are aware of the needs in the medical system with the creators who design machines or applications to meet those needs. It also promotes the timely distribution and commercialization of those solutions, so they can have as big an impact as possible and contribute to further innovations.

“ARC is a strategy of innovation that basically underlies everything we do at Sheba,” said Eyal Zimlichman, Sheba’s chief innovation officer. “The idea comes from the need to create more innovations much quicker than we’ve traditionally done them, and have those innovations be game-changing so that at the end of the day, they aim to redesign health care. So we’ve set a goal of redesigning health care within 10 years, by 2030 getting to a point where we’re solving much of the problems we have today.”

Some of the most pressing issues Zimlichman sees for global health care are affordability, especially in the United States, and the “quality and patient safety gaps” that exist in the field. He said the only way to adequately address those issues is through implementing a wholesale redesign of the health-case system.

“It’s not just about minor changes in how we do things, but it’s major changes in how we do things,” he said.

One example of a potential “game-changing” solution is telemedicine, an idea that aims to transfer care from the hospital setting to the home. Zimlichman said he expects hospitals in the future will be much smaller because so many of the services they currently offer will be administered in the home.

Another example is personalized, or precision, medicine, which will allow health-care professionals to predict how diseases will develop for specific patients and what kind of therapy they will need on the first try, as opposed to the trial-and-error method that’s used today. Both of these system-level overhauls will also make use of the ever-increasing capabilities of artificial intelligence.

ARC has four core concepts that underlie its goals: digital health, open innovation, international collaboration and creating an environment in which innovation can thrive.

ARC has collaborators all over the world, but this will be its first attempt to transplant its entire system to another hospital. The plan came to life when Alan Forster, the vice president for innovation and quality at the Ottawa Hospital, visited Zimlichman at Sheba.

“I was really impressed with what what he was doing,” Forster said. “I thought, ‘you know, this is very different and it really solves a lot of problems.’ ”

Two months later, when Zimlichman was scheduled to visit Montreal, he added a trip to Ottawa to his itinerary, to speak with the hospital’s executive team. After the meeting, the hospital’s CEO told Forster to follow Sheba’s lead and adopt its strategy.


Forster said the focus on flexibility and accessibility built into ARC was one of the things that really sold him on the model.

“Let’s break down the silos between institutions so that patients can move seamlessly,” he said. “Although we’re a hospital, we don’t have all the answers when it comes to helping people with their health care.

“There’s a lot of people out there with expertise. Let’s help companies come in. Let’s help patients and families come in. And let’s create a platform for that interchange of ideas. So I have to say, it’s that ARC concept of pushing for better patient care, better system redesign through collaboration. It’s just genius.”

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