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Canada, Taiwan urged to step up e-healthcare cooperation

2014/03/04 17:30:19

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) Canada and Taiwan should deepen their partnership in developing electronic healthcare systems so as to create better healthcare services in both countries, industry experts said Tuesday.

Joseph Cafazzo, the lead researcher at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at Toronto's University Health Network, said Canada and Taiwan share the same values in healthcare research, including the principles of offering high-quality healthcare services to patients.

"But we also differ in many complementary aspects," Cafazzo said at a panel discussion at the Canada-Taiwan e-Health and Innovation Summit, organized by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.

He said Taiwan is a powerhouse of information and communications technology (ICT) and understands manufacturing and scaling products, which complements the life science research in which Canada has expertise.

"So I think it's a great partnership in terms of using our complementary skills and creating a healthcare system of the future," Cafazzo said.

Cafazzo is an active researcher on the use of technology to facilitate patient self-care of complex chronic conditions such as diabetes, end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure.

According to statistics from the Canadian government, the healthcare industry is the largest vertically integrated industry in Canada, which spends about 11.2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare.

With almost 400,000 general practitioners, more than 700 hospitals and 1,600 long-term care facilities, Canada has a wealth of experience in managing health information across these areas and using IT to reduce inefficiencies in the healthcare system.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's interior ministry statistics from the end of last year showed that senior citizens age 65 and older accounted for 11.5 percent of Taiwan's population. That ratio is likely to grow as life expectancy continues to increase and the local birth rate remains low, the ministry said.

The aging population in Taiwan and other nations, together with associated diseases such as diabetes, is driving the fast market growth of wireless patient monitoring devices, said Wu Guo-zua, director of the Biomedical Device Laboratory at the state-run Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), during the panel discussion.

The use of new patient monitoring technologies can result in better patient care and the detection of serious health problems before they become an issue, Wu said.

(By Jeffrey Wu)
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