McKinsey study | Canada could save $26 billion per year by integrating AI into the healthcare system

(Montreal) Canada could achieve net savings of 14 to 26 billion per year in the health system if it integrated artificial intelligence in this area in the short term, reveals a recent McKinsey study.

It indicates that Canada spends approximately $330 billion on health care each year, which is equivalent to 12.2% of its 2022 GDP. With the exception of 2020, Canada’s annual spending on health care has always increased on average by one percentage point compared to its GDP growth.

This makes Canada one of the ten countries that spend the most on health care in the world, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

McKinsey’s analysis indicates that large-scale deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) could reduce Canada’s net health spending by approximately 4.5 to 8.0% per year.

AI would improve the quality of care, the experience of patients and staff, and simplify administrative tasks, which would overall optimize the health system.

If Canada does not act quickly, however, it could be difficult to catch up, as was the case with digital technology, estimates Marie-Renée B-Lajoie, project director at McKinsey in Montreal.

The government must quickly invest in infrastructure and standards in artificial intelligence, she believes. “We know that costs will continue to increase, hence the importance of starting today to make these investments to be able over the coming years to continue to accelerate and facilitate integration into the system,” maintains Marie-Renée B-Lajoie, who is also an emergency physician in Montreal.

It highlights that the system is already evolving in this direction and that AI will increasingly become part of our lives, just like digital technology is now. “If we do not support it today, this is an area that is accelerating so quickly that we run the risk of limiting our system,” warns the director. And Canada has exorbitant costs, it has quite significant challenges with its health system, so technology and artificial intelligence are tools for which if we wait too long, we will miss the boat. »


In his practice as an emergency physician, B-Lajoie identified several aspects of her job that could be made easier by AI, starting with her schedule.

She explains that artificial intelligence could help her department of more than 40 doctors optimize work schedules with emergency department utilization data. Depending on the greatest increases in attendance, the AI ​​could generate an optimized schedule and thus reduce the waiting time for patients.

Mme B-Lajoie also cited a scenario in which a patient with a skin lesion presents to the emergency room. She would obviously use her experience and the resources at her disposal such as a blood test, but a tool could also highlight risk factors, such as a measles outbreak. “Perhaps there could be other diseases that are running and we could be alerted through these kinds of tools to improve diagnostic capacity,” argues Mme B-Lajoie.

However, she recognizes that the integration of AI into the health system involves certain significant risks. In relation to the protection of privacy, for example, it is important to ensure that patient data is well protected.

“We also want to maximize health equity and ensure that everything remains impartial, that is to say that it is really there to maximize the well-being of patients and that it also respects the diversity of patients. Historically, in the medical field, a lot of data was generated with white, middle-aged and average-sized men and we obviously know that health is much more diverse than that,” points out B-Lajoie.

The McKinsey study argues that humans must remain within the circle of artificial intelligence in health. “We are not at a stage where there will be substitution of skills. The risks are too great and at the end of the day there is a clinical responsibility which is important in the health system for maintaining quality, the patient relationship and also professional responsibility,” says B-Lajoie.


As not all provinces have the same resources to put forward investments in AI, pan-Canadian collaboration is essential for equitable integration of this technology into the health system.

“It’s really an opportunity that leaders have today and the different stakeholders to come together and move forward and there is a certain urgency to do it quickly,” insists B-Lajoie.

She believes that the health system is “at a crossroads” when there are exceptional technological advances, but significant challenges are on the horizon.

The project director at McKinsey also emphasizes that Canada has expertise in artificial intelligence and that with the necessary investments, the integration of AI can be done equitably while taking risks into account.

The Canadian Press’ health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.


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