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1987 Called, It Wants Its Fax Machine Back

Medcan harnesses the power of technology to provide world-class customer service to its clients  

Person clicks start on fax machine.

Remember fax machines? They used to be integral to business—the big roll of heat-transfer paper, the achingly slow line-by-line transmission of text via dial-up phone line. Then at the turn of the millennium, the Internet and email rendered irrelevant most applications of the fax machine. These days, the technology is considered so out of date that the Smithsonian museum has two fax machines in its collection alongside typewriters and adding machines.

Considered so out of date, that is, except in health care—where fax machines are all over the place. Which says a lot about the state of innovation in health care. To this day, most Canadian specialists still arrange appointments with patients exclusively by fax. You can’t call them. You can’t email them. To get an appointment with someone like an orthopedic surgeon, you basically have to print off a form, find a fax machine, load it into the paper feed, press send—and then hope for the best.

Imagine running any other business where your principal interaction with your clients happens via fax machine.

Central planning like something out of the Soviet Union has created a Canadian health care system that sees all the power in the hands of institutions and clinicians. They don’t need us—but we definitely need them. So there’s no incentive for them to innovate. And that’s true in so many aspects of health care. In an age where you can pay for virtually any product with your phone, and conduct free video chats with colleagues a continent away, it remains difficult to bring your health information with you when you switch doctors or pharmacies, or need to be admitted to a hospital.

“In many ways, your bank knows more about you, and where you are, than your health care provider,” observes John Driscoll, the CEO of Carecentrix. “Which is crazy.”

In October, Medcan will begin a journey of digital innovation. The journey is meant to update, refine and improve the way we interact with our clients, and set a standard for the rest of the wellness industry to follow.

As a company, we thrive today because we take class-leading customer service and apply it to human wellness. When I took over leadership of Medcan in 2002, we were known principally as a provider of executive physicals. Over time I pivoted us into a single-source provider of wellness services under the Eat, Move, Think philosophy. With nutrition, fitness, genetics and counselling services, we’ve evolved into a partner for lifestyle improvement as well as a trusted ally when you’re facing an acute or chronic problem. The result is a partner that truly does help you live well, for life.

The next step in our continuing evolution is the result of months of work led by Medcan President Ashim Khemani, Chief Information Officer Colin Stairs, and VP (Digital) Jordan Gracey and their teams. The changes will one day soon allow online bookings for Annual Health Assessments and other appointments. They’ll create an electronic record for all of your Medcan health data and preferences. And the changes will fill the clear market need for a single repository of the fast-proliferating health data created by consumer-electronics apps. (Read Ashim’s newsletter article to learn more about the specifics.)

You’ll be hearing much more about this in the months and years to come. For now, I’ll leave you with an assurance. Technology has allowed us to do virtually anything, from anywhere, faster than ever before. Everywhere, that is, except in health care.

With Medcan’s digital transformation, we’re intending to change that. Thanks to the innovations you’ll begin to notice in the months ahead, we’re aiming to bring you a customer-service experience characterized by ease of use and responsiveness. We’re excited about our evolution, and when you see the results, we believe that you will be, too.


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