Sanchi Illuri and Colin Hung
November 23, 2020
Digital Health Week is an annual event that puts the spotlight on digital health and how it is transforming the delivery of care across Canada. It is an opportunity to assess Canada’s digital care landscape, identify the challenges ahead, and celebrate the successes of the past year.
In a turbulent 2020, digital health companies have shown they are resilient and innovative. Adoption of digital health tools — from virtual care to new health-at-home apps — has accelerated. As a result, people across the country have been able to access the care that they need. Digital health will continue to play an important role in a brighter future.
ventureLAB is a leading technology hub that supports tech entrepreneurs and small businesses. We drive innovation, commercialization and thought leadership in York Region and across Ontario, working together with hospitals, health care organizations, and strategic partners to improve health care and experiences for Canadians.
For Digital Health Week, we are highlighting several digital health leaders from our ecosystem. These pioneers are changing the digital care landscape with breakthrough products and services.
Pharmacies and pharmacists are an important part of Canada’s healthcare delivery system. This is especially true in smaller urban centers and rural areas where pharmacies are the “health hub” of communities.
MedEssist helps pharmacies digitally connect with and offer new services to their communities. Through their pharmacy app, patients can refill their prescriptions from their local pharmacy with just a few clicks.
People can also pre-book their flu shot and other vaccinations with a pharmacist via the MedEssist app. This not only helps reduce the burden on the healthcare system, keeps the community safe but also helps pharmacists better manage their supply of vaccines. This will be vital when the COVID-19 vaccines are available to the public.
Since the team behind MedEssist are pharmacists themselves, MedEssist understands the unique challenges faced by pharmacies and the people who use them.
Learn more about MedEssist on their website: www.medessist.ca
Micromensio is developing next-generation sensing technologies that improves the speed, accuracy and cost of diagnostic devices. Their novel, low-cost biosensor can help identify viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants efficiently.
Micromensio’s sensor microchips are submerged directly inside a liquid sample, and perform measurements in real time, at the point-of-need. Their technology means test results can be available within minutes, at low cost, and most importantly without the need for a testing facility or trained technician.
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for improved infectious disease diagnostic solutions. Micromensio technology enables rapid point-of-care diagnostics that will help us track and prevent local and national outbreaks in the future.
Improving the Home Care experience
Ontario is experiencing a crippling shortage of personal support workers (PSWs) who provide essential services to patients at home. Yet every year trained PSWs seek other employment because of insufficient hours and unstable schedules. How can this be? The answer: cancellations and changing needs of patients.
It is common for PSWs to have their schedules disrupted as patients are transferred to hospitals and long-term care facilities or when patients have appointments. These open spots on a PSW’s schedule go unfilled. With Caribou’s platform, this idle time can be made available to agencies or directly to families who need a PSW at the last minute.
Here’s how it works: A PSW creates a profile on Caribou and updates their availability. Agencies and families who need a PSW can search on Caribou for someone who has the right skills and availability. When a match is made, the PSW is booked and everybody wins. The PSW no longer has a disparate schedule, agencies are able to help families in need of support, and patients get the last-minute help they need.
Their platform is designed to elevate the home care experience for agencies, professional caregivers, and families, and turn idle caregiver time into a flexible home care market.
Learn more about Caribou on their website: www.caribou.care
Inappropriate medication use impacts millions of older adults every year, causing reduced quality of life, and adverse drug reactions that can result in disability or premature death. It is extremely important that medications are reviewed regularly to determine if the dosages are safe and to avoid harmful drug interactions. This review is typically done by consulting pharmacists.
TaperMD’s medication review platform was developed in conjunction with the Department of Family Medicine atMcMaster University. It is being used in clinical trials in multiple locations in Canada and Australia.
In partnership with McMaster and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), a global association representing pharmacists, TaperMD recently launched the PIMsPlus.org website. This new site provides physicians and pharmacists information about Potentially Inappropriate Medications (PIMs). PIMs are medications that should be used with caution in older adults based on research and clinical experience that have shown that the risk of adverse effects can outweigh the benefits.
Learn more about TaperMD on their website: TaperMD.com
Smart scheduling platform
NextUp Care is automating healthcare – one appointment at a time. Their intelligent algorithms automate and optimize resource scheduling to improve operational efficiency and reduce patient wait times for high demand medical procedures.
NextUp Care is currently focused on improving patient access for diagnostic imaging services, such as MRI and CT scans. Their smart scheduling platform connects hospitals, physicians and patients to find the nearest facility with the shortest wait time to schedule the earliest appointment for patients. This is extremely important as elective procedures have been delayed and postponed due to the pandemic. Hospitals are now faced with the daunting task of triaging and optimizing appointments. With NextUp Care’s solution, this becomes easy.
NextUp Care’s algorithms can automatically determine the optimal patient schedule.
Learn more about NextUp Care on their website: www.nextupcare.com
ventureLAB grows global leaders in hardware, software and healthcare innovation. A significant share of ventureLAB-supported companies are finding healthcare efficiencies and improving service through innovative, new hardware and software technologies. We have empowered 300+ health technology companies to create products for digital health or medical devices. ventureLAB is a founding partner for $34.5 million FedDev Health Ecosphere Project, exceeding targets to deliver more than 20 commercialization projects from emerging health tech companies. Products from ventureLAB-supported companies partnering with major regional hospitals have delivered efficiencies that have reduced patient wait times by 28% and re-admissions to the ER, lowering the cost while enhancing quality for health care providers and Canadian patients.