Mike Checkley - October 23, 2019

Leading the Way

Why we decided to shake up Canadian Healthcare

The Accuro you know today began with the seed of an idea that grew into something big. Dive into this piece from Mike Checkley, QHR’s President and one of the planters of that seed, to learn how Accuro went from academic project to healthcare game-changer in just a few years.

In Canada, we see our healthcare system as more than just a service. An Environics survey from 2012 found that 81 percent of Canadians feel our healthcare system is a very important symbol for the country[1] and I share that feeling; it’s something we can be proud of. We know there are still a lot of problems worth solving, though, and that’s why I continue to make improving that system the focus of my career.

Though I started university in general Sciences, technology and its potential drew me in. Computer Sciences in the late 90s was an awe-inspiring field with limitless possibilities for anyone with a laptop and some initiative, so I partnered with classmates and we began looking for a problem to solve. We found it in the office of a Kelowna urologist who wanted to digitize his 100,000 patient charts, and who ultimately became one of our co-founders.

The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) was still emerging as a mainstream tool, so we started with a modest goal of eliminating paper charts and channeled our energy and resources into creating something that filled that need. What began as our graduation project developed into a marketable product, and as our customer base grew and we responded to their queries and feedback, Accuro emerged as an EMR that would ultimately change the landscape of Canadian healthcare. In 2004 we were acquired by QHR Technologies and I joined the company as the head of the EMR product and operations. Today, Accuro is Canada’s #1 single-platform EMR.

The secret to our success, though, has never been complicated and has never changed: Always listen, and keep doing better. Rather than giving customers the tools we think they need, we give them the tools to create what they need: Not 100 custom screens but a screen-builder function so they have the power to customize their work. The result is a product that works for users without requiring them to change their process. And when they have used it, we listen to what they have to say and take that back to the drawing board. It’s a constant cycle of listening, improving, and evolving.

That philosophy will carry us into the future as we continue to face the challenge of Canada’s fragmented healthcare system. Across the country, healthcare costs keep rising. The Ontario government’s health spending represented 41 per cent of total program spending in 2018-2019[2], and the British Columbia government estimates spending nearly $23 billion on health, out of around $58 billion in total expenses, for the fiscal year 2019-2020.[3] This is the trend from province to province.

On top of that, too many Canadians don’t have access to the care they need. Many don’t have a family doctor and wait times to see specialists are frustratingly long. Doctors in all areas of practice are stretched thin, and with public insurance paying according to a ‘treating the sick’ model, doctors have neither the time nor the resources to also focus on preventative care. In short, the system does best at keeping people alive but struggles when it comes to keeping them healthy.

Our goal, then, is to bring the power of technology to these weak points in the system, to improve it for patients and providers alike. Imagine software programs that analyze electronic medical records and identify people at risk for certain illnesses. Imagine those programs then sending those patients a text message, encouraging them to make an appointment with a provider. Imagine if understanding our own health, connecting with the people we need to manage it, and taking action to ensure our own wellbeing was as easy as opening an app.

That’s where we’re going at QHR, and I’m proud and excited to be leading the charge.

[1] Environics

[2] Financial Accountability Office of Ontario

[3] Estimates: Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2020, Government of British Columbia