Skip to contentSkip to search
TELUS Health logo
TELUS Health logo
Skip to main content

Adopting technology: What can you learn from the next generation of physicians?

In line with technology transformation trends around the world and across disciplines, healthcare in Canada is digitizing. Established and new technologies in healthcare, such as electronic health records, telemedicine, and now artificial intelligence (AI), are improving efficiencies, accessibility, and overall patient care.1

While medical offices face challenges implementing new technology in healthcare, due to factors ranging from lack of funding to restrictions slowing adoption within broader healthcare systems, change is nonetheless imperative. 

That’s why technology-forward changemakers in medicine like Matt MacDonald, Site Director at Stratford Medical Centre, and Chris LeBouthillier, Executive Director at West Carleton Family Health Team, are embracing technology to streamline their workflows. As MacDonald puts it, “You’re not going to have an option. This is the way it’s going.”

They’ve experienced some fantastic benefits from doing so. For example, LeBouthillier and his team worked with a configuration expert at TELUS Health to automatically document vaccinations and flu shots in the TELUS Collaborative Health Record (CHR). He estimates automating that documentation saved his team two minutes per injection. “If you do a thousand shots, that’s a lot of time,” he points out.

Here are five lessons MacDonald and LeBouthillier gleaned from their digital transformation journeys.

1. Start where you are

New technologies in healthcare are meant to empower clinicians and staff, not inhibit them. Yet adoption itself doesn’t guarantee results — you need a strategy. “We’re creatures of habit, and we’re trying to find a way to do our thing within the confines of the new thing,” says MacDonald. “If I don’t know the system well enough, how could I ever utilize the things that are meant to improve my life?”

LeBouthillier and MacDonald recommend fitting digital tools into existing workflows. At LeBouthillier’s office, it would be more natural to transition to using an AI scribe than some other tools because “there’s no significant action required to change workflows. It happens behind the scenes. It doesn’t change the work that you’re doing substantially. There would be more deliberate action required, like talking louder or being clearer when you speak, but it’s not a new activity.”

They also recommend making easier, less disruptive changes first. For example, automating simple administrative tasks like file intake. As MacDonald explains, “There are elements of the job that could be considered easy, such as matching a name on a piece of paper to a name on a computer. That would be something that AI could absolutely take away.”

2. Harness your changemakers

As MacDonald and LeBouthillier experienced, implementing new technology isn’t simple. Transitioning smoothly often requires extensive time and resources. “Our data was of good quality, but we spent a lot of time organizing it — I don’t even know if I should describe how much time,” says LeBouthillier. 

The key to simplifying the adoption of technology in healthcare is finding and leveraging the technology changemakers within your practice: early adopters who are enthusiastic about change and willing to invest the time to learn. “You need the core groups that are willing to see everyone through,” says MacDonald. “You also need people who can help others understand the benefits that technology has.”

3. Lean on your vendors for support

Collaborating with vendors who provide support and training can make all the difference when implementing new technology in healthcare. This includes not only technical support, but also ongoing education and feedback channels.

LeBouthillier and his team relied on webinars, live workshops, and dedicated support people during their transition to the CHR. “Knowing who you can call and that they’re going to answer the phone, email or chat is very important,” he notes. 

4. Dive into data

Transitioning patient data into a new system is a big job, but it’s worth it to access the benefits of intelligent technology, according to MacDonald. If the new system features intelligent tools, this can ease the process of transferring data from the old one. “To have the assistance of machine learning to better import data — that’s a no-brainer,” he says.

New technology advances in healthcare have enabled the collection and analysis of vast amounts of patient data, providing insights into trends, patterns, and potential health risks. Digital tools can boost patient engagement and quality of care.3 They also help healthcare professionals make more informed decisions, which in turn empowers patient self-management.2 Failing to make the most of patients’ data in the course of their care “does them a disservice,” says MacDonald.

5. Recognize it’s not just about the technology

Challenges in transitioning technologies can occur in part because of the technology, but it’s important to remember that change itself is a challenge. “People make hundreds of thousands of dollars consulting on change management alone, and I understand why,” says MacDonald. Sometimes, “it’s got nothing to do with technology or data. It’s about people responding to change and how you manage that throughout the day, the week, and the month, and get through it. That’s the hardest part.”

So, change management should not be overlooked or underestimated. While change takes time, new technologies can bring clinics closer to their ultimate goal: a more efficient, accessible, and overall better experience for clinicians, staff, and patients. Learn about the AI technologies that can help support and streamline workflows — from transformation to everyday work — and how the TELUS Collaborative Health Record (CHR) can help transition your practice into a new era of digitally enabled healthcare.

  1. The digital transformation of healthcare in Canada. Physicians First Financial. (2023, August 23). 
  2. Empowering health care providers in the digital era. Government of Canada. (2022, November 29).
  3. Madanian, S., Nakarada-Kordic, I., Reay, S., & Chetty, T. (2023). Patients’ perspectives on digital health tools. PEC Innovation, 2, 100171.