Technology and Innovation

Digital healthcare start-ups building solutions for aging adults to watch for 2021

: CEO Eliav Shaked shows the RetiSpec technology to an older adult. By Margaret DeRosia In Fall 2020, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) launched a Call for Innovations for its Mentorship, Capital and Continuation (MC2) program.  MC2 Market Readiness sought early-stage companies creating solutions for aging adults in the healthtech space. The program addresses critical innovation gaps, not only by providing early-stage companies with direct access to two leading global accelerators, CABHI and Berkeley SkyDeck, but also by helping companies unlock funding to achieve their specific business milestones. More than 50 companies applied, which indicates a thriving Ontario healthtech sector invested in building solutions for aging adults. Given that the pandemic has had a...

Virtual care in Canada: Pandemic accelerates activation, but more work needed says CMA

One year ago, with the adoption of virtual care in Canada still lagging, the Virtual Care Task Force – a collaboration of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada – identified 19 recommendations to accelerate the implementation of virtual care. The work of the task force would prove to be prescient as one month later the global pandemic was declared and virtual care was hurriedly adopted to ensure access to care would not be interrupted. While standing up virtual care has been swift, one year later the CMA is cautioning that Canada’s work is far from done.“The pandemic truly was the catalyst for accelerating the uptake and expansion of virtual care,” says Dr. Ann Collins, president of the ...

App and education toolkit help rehab patients reach recovery goals

By Kelsi Break It’s been almost 10 years since Rob Staffen was in an accident that would change his life forever. Staffen was cycling down a mountain near Palm Springs, California in October 2012 when suddenly his road bike malfunctioned, catapulting him head-first into the rock-strewn desert landscape. The impact to his skull resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a hit to the head or body that forces the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. Known as an invisible injury, a concussion can affect a person’s physical, mental, behavioral and/or emotional health. While 80 per cent of people recover from a concussion, 20 per cent have persistent symptoms that can develop or worsen over time. Too often after a concussion people either stop...

Inside-the-box’ technology solves organ and vaccine transportation problem

By Crystal Mackay Following a fatal car crash, a registered organ donor could save the lives of many patients critically awaiting heart, kidney, liver, lung or pancreas transplantation. Once doctors successfully remove vital organs, they are carefully placed in what are essentially beverage coolers in an attempt to synchronize temperature with the ice cubes also packed within. These are simple organ storage and transportation systems that have seen little change since organ transplants started in the late 1960s. There has to be a better, more effective and safer approach to transport something so incredibly valuable to saving someone’s life. And now there is. A team of researchers from Western University has designed, developed and constructed a new portable temperature regulating device, ...

Canadians are ready to embrace “Virtual First” in health care

Shelagh Maloney is Executive Vice President, Engagement and Marketing at Canada Health Infoway. By Shelagh Maloney I recently participated in a podcast where we were discussing the rapid uptake of virtual care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When one of my colleagues turned the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” into “necessity is the mother of adoption,” I thought it was very applicable to today’s situation. From the evidence we’ve been collecting for years, we know virtual care is a viable care delivery option that can improve access to care, give patients agency so they can better manage their care, and can save them time and money. The pandemic has necessitated the adoption of virtual care, and Canadians are mostly embracing this change — they are ready to include virt...

Artificial intelligence and digitization to enhance the patient experience

By An Tang The disruption created by COVID-19 has created an opportunity to consider modernization of the patient journey through the healthcare system. Technology “appification” and the improvement of the patient experience through the integration of technology could turn our current structure into a streamlined, paperless, patient-oriented system designed for the 21st century. Appification refers to the use of programs running on mobile devices to provide a user-friendly interface to enter and consult data available on the web or from medical databases. Apps can facilitate patient access and integration with radiology departments but will require overcoming communication, technical, and security barriers encountered in medical imaging. Achieving seamless integration of databases within a...

Predictions for Canadian Healthcare IT 2021

Dr. Chris Hobson By Dr. Chris Hobson 2020 was an unprecedented year. The healthcare IT landscape in Canada is evolving rapidly as it tries to balance the need to respond effectively and urgently to the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to manage challenges already placing immense pressure on the Canadian healthcare system. What will 2021 hold for healthcare IT in Canada? Focus on COVID-19 data and improved predictive modelling As jurisdictions continue to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of high-quality data and sound predictive scenario-based modelling will become more apparent. Decisions on opening and closing businesses, schools and so on depend on an effort to balance the need to manage the spread of the disease with trying to keep the economy functioning. Nine months ...

Innovation in COVID-19 testing solutions offer hope to communities that need it most

Dr. Mario Thomas, CEO, Precision Biomonitoring, speaks to the importance of continued advancements in Canada’s testing space in response to COVID-19 and beyond. Improving healthcare outcomes now and into the future. COVID-19 has challenged traditional approaches to healthcare. The global pandemic has provided Canada with the opportunity to see the capabilities within our own healthcare system. Canadians have adapted and innovated quickly to meet the immediate, yet evolving, needs of the public, and this ability to adapt is arguably most evident in the testing space. From the very beginning of the pandemic, testing has been front and center, and while it is universally agreed that testing is a critical piece of the COVID-19 puzzle, it has not been perfect. Testing strategies have varied gre...

The future of healthcare is less invasive

By Neil Fraser As Canada heads into winter and closes the door on 2020, hospitals are feeling increasingly snowed in by rising COVID-19 cases and growing wait lists for diagnostic and surgical procedures, estimated by Deloitte to be over 300,000 procedures in Canada. As we open the door to a new year, how can we avoid taking one step forward and two steps back as the pandemic forces hospitals to deal with the conflicting demands of clearing surgical backlogs and creating inpatient bed capacity? The problem is big, but the answer is less invasive. One of the greatest lessons the pandemic has taught us is that we need to prioritize solutions that free up bed capacity and reduce the burden on healthcare professionals, while also reducing the risk of virus and infection exposure to both clinic...

Virtual care helps post-operative patients heal at home

Ernst Seeger kept in touch with his health care team post-surgery through virtual care. It was 10:30 at night when Ernst Seeger realized he needed immediate medical attention. The Niagara Falls man was at home recovering from bladder cancer surgery and started experiencing intense, escalating abdominal pain. But instead of going to the hospital emergency department, Seeger, 64, reached out to his virtual healthcare team at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) using a tablet computer provided by the hospital as part of a study on virtual care for patients recovering at home after surgery. “I apologized for contacting them so late but the nurse I spoke to said, `I’m glad you called. That’s what we’re here for.’” While at the HHS Juravinski Cancer Centre having surgery for bladder cancer in May, Se...

Canada lags in adopting innovation

Canadians are right to be proud of their healthcare system, but one area where challenges exist – and where some practical changes could bring about big improvement – is in the adoption of innovative medical technologies. Too often, Canadians have limited access to health technologies that are widely adopted in other countries. These technologies are varied. They might be orthopedic devices, technologies that support cardiovascular health, disease-specific remedies, or unique innovations that address chronic pain. And the organizational profiles are equally diverse. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small, innovative Canadian company, or a large multinational, the truth is that the Canadian healthcare system – despite its many strengths – is not built to embrace innovation. Intellijoint Surgic...

Virtual care popularity surges during COVID-19 pandemic

Virtual doctor appointments mean Harrison Brown can continue working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and not have to travel to The Ottawa Hospital. By Season Osborne Harrison Brown relies on ParaTranspo to get to The Ottawa Hospital. He used to have to carve a three-hour window for a 15-minute appointment. But now, he has his doctor’s appointments at home—using his cell phone. “It’s a game-changer for me,” said Harrison. The 27-year-old from Cornwall has spina bifida and has had to come to the hospital his whole life. When he moved to Ottawa, either his parents would come from Cornwall to drive him to the hospital or he’d take ParaTranspo. Not having to go to the hospital is “huge.” The Ottawa Hospital normally has about 37,000 outpatient appointments every month. On March 17, The O...

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