Medical tech with a human touch

Two Toronto companies are pushing innovation in patient care beyond institutional walls

By Gerry Flahive

In recent years, there’s been an explosion of software and healthcare tools that fall under the category of ‘patient management’ systems, but the term doesn’t always do justice to its most human outcome: patient empowerment.

Two Toronto companies are pushing innovation in patient care well beyond institutional walls, and into the hands of patients seeking a greater role in their recovery. In the process, they’re empowering people and practitioners to improve health with the aid of digital tools.

Courtney Cole, founder and CEO of ForaHealthyMe Inc. is “motivated by the strength and courage of patients everywhere.” ForaHealthyMe promotes ‘virtual rehabilitation’ using video links for online education and consultations. It prescribes exercises using “interactive & intuitive 3D avatars” so that patients living far from their hospital have at-home access to leading-edge solutions.

Michael Millar, founder and CEO of Verto Inc., takes patients beyond the post-operation stage and involves them in a “healthcare journey” using a system that “follows them from diagnosis to recovery.” Its software system, RightPath, increases productivity for healthcare professionals, while making their interactions with patients more meaningful.

Both companies have embraced—and refined—some of the newest tech, from machine learning to motion capture.

ForaHealthyMe’s software and analytics engine captures video and infrared recordings of a patient’s movements after a knee replacement, for example. The motion-tracking technology gives healthcare providers the ability to analyze the resultant data streams, and prescribe more precise and effective rehabilitative options. “It delivers a unique combination of computer-vision technology, telehealth, analytics and patient/provider virtual care solutions,” says Cole.

Verto’s RightPath is a platform built to work with the reams of data generated through patient care, from formal test results to informal but relevant text messages, much of which can end up siloed. “One of the big problems we see in healthcare is that most of the systems are all about aggregating data,” says Millar. RightPath sits on top of traditional healthcare systems and data, and includes information about who is in the circle of care. “Dumping health data into a web portal isn’t good enough. RightPath uses each person’s health data to drive personalized, rich, timely delivery of contextual education and resources.”

ForaHealthyMe is now working on building commercial partnerships in Europe and Asia, embracing the different approaches to delivering healthcare services and payment models in those markets.

Launched in 2009, Verto has since expanded to 15 staff focusing on RightPath. It’s won two competitions this year (including a MaRS Innovation Partnership: Procurement by Co-Design award), signed deals with five hospital networks representing twenty hospitals, and is making a push into the U.S. market.

Technology with a human touch is winning.