Healthcare is changing.

With increased patient access to technology and medical information, and a greater global demand to get better health outcomes for the money being spent, the traditional healthcare business model is being forced to transform.

Our current healthcare delivery system, built on a model that focused on hospitals and providers, is no longer viable. Instead, we’re moving toward a model focused on community care settings and patients.

By leveraging pervasive cloud and mobile technologies and better access to data, healthcare systems around the world are being re-engineered to have a greater focus on the patient as a consumer, and to improve healthcare overall.

Why is a new business model necessary?

  • Economic pressures require it
  • Demographics demand it
  • Technology enables it

Shift Left: New business models are moving care out of the hospital

Several years ago, Intel developed a Shift Left framework for understanding the business and clinical benefits of health IT, outlining how to achieve the highest quality of life at the lowest possible cost.

Their findings? As we transition care from hospitals to lower-cost care centres and put more focus on individual wellness, we are, in effect, shifting our attention (and corresponding investment) “left,” away from institutional care and upstream toward better quality of life for consumers (patients).

To reap the full economic potential and quality benefit from this Shift Left model, healthcare is undergoing a business model re-design, using new technologies to realign the roles and accountabilities of providers, and develop entirely new ways of engaging empowered and informed consumers. Innovative digital tools are playing a key role in this shift by aiming to solve acute operational, economic and clinical problems.

What is “digital health”?

The term “digital health” broadly describes the technologies and networks used by all stakeholders in the healthcare delivery ecosystem to enhance collaboration and individual wellness, and reduce overall costs. Stakeholders include doctors, patients, payers and providers.

MaRS works with dozens of clients—some of whom are highlighted in this magazine—who are having a positive impact on the healthcare system with their creative technology applications. These companies are helping us “shift left” by using digital tools to solve key challenges.

Their profiles highlight:

  • how physicians, patients, family and the care-giving community use and integrate digital health tools to improve patient outcomes; and
  • how innovators and the healthcare system generate the evidence required to support clinical and business process re-design.

Check out the New Business Models in Digital Health:



MetricAid

Our software and methodology drastically decrease wait times in hospital emergency departments without the need for additional resources. In Ontario, this equates to increased revenue for hospitals and physicians, a better work environment for staff and, most importantly, better medicine delivered to patients.

What makes this technology/business unique?

Our intellectual property (IP) makes us unique. We are working with performance metrics that no other company is able to gather, running them through our scheduling algorithm, which no competitor is remotely close to being able to do. We are working with the most sophisticated forecasting software on the market.

Because we own all of the key IP for this project and have the right team in place to leverage open-source software, we are able to deliver our software at exceptionally competitive rates.

How does this technology integrate into the healthcare setting?

Our technology determines how emergency departments (or other clinical settings) are staffed and also directs patient flow. Our technology fuses with clinical best practices and is informed by a team that has decades of front-line emergency department experience.

What do you see as the big opportunities in digital health?

Healthcare finally seems interested in bringing business intelligence to bear on the challenges of limited resources. There is currently a cultural shift toward measurement and improvement happening in healthcare. This is a big opportunity for companies that can take the data that healthcare is already generating and use it for intelligent decision-making.

Contact

  • Les Blackwell, Director of Clinical Studies and Business Development
  • Company website 

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VitalHub

VitalHub has developed a software platform and set of mobile applications that allow clinicians to rapidly access comprehensive and relevant patient information gathered from multiple disparate clinical information systems. The VitalHub Server platform sits on top of whatever clinical enterprise systems the hospital, community physician practice, assisted living facility and/or home-care setting already have in place and provides an easy-to-use, intuitive interface on an iOS, Android or Windows 8 mobile device for clinicians to both review and enter patient data. VitalHub’s innovative mobile healthcare solution provides clinicians with a unified and customizable view of their patients.

What makes this technology/business unique?

There are several significant workflow and patient data access challenges common to most healthcare settings.

  • Patient information is scattered among dozens of clinical systems from multiple vendors. Each system must be accessed independently with different logins and each has its own unique and often unwieldy interface.
  • Inefficient communication is the number 1 cause of clinical errors.
  • Paper notes, pagers, email, nurse calls and wireless are all used to share patient information among clinicians with no universal standard.

As a result, patient information is frequently unavailable where and when it is needed. Rather than helping, technology gets in the way.

VitalHub’s software platform and mobile applications rapidly retrieve and aggregate patient data from multiple clinical information systems to present the clinician with a simple, unified and relevant view of his or her patients through a highly intuitive and slick user interface on his or her mobile device.

How does this technology integrate into the healthcare setting?

VitalHub’s mobile solution provides clinicians with integrated views of their patients by rapidly accessing and aggregating data from multiple disparate systems and displaying it through a unified and intuitive interface on their mobile devices. By providing access to comprehensive patient data at the point of care, VitalHub’s mobile solution saves clinicians time and reduces the risk of errors. VitalHub’s products also help hospitals save money. Rather than replacing costly and complex legacy clinical information systems, VitalHub improves the usability of these systems. VitalHub was designed in close partnership with doctors and nurses, and fits seamlessly into patient-care workflows. A clinician can master VitalHub’s intuitive user interface in less than five minutes.

What do you see as the big opportunities in digital health?

Wearable health monitoring devices, electronic health record self-management tools, enterprise communication software services, the cloud and going paperless.

Contact

  • Giancarlo De Lio, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer
  • Company website

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Evolution Health

We improve adherence to treatment plans and optimize patient outcomes. We accomplish this through an integrated behaviour modification model, enabled by accessible technologies that are personalized, scalable, customizable and evidence based.

What makes this technology/business unique?

In the past, patients could only get help when visiting a healthcare professional. Through the web, mobile, social networking and expert coaching, patients can now receive on-demand evidence-based treatment and advice that is tailored to their unique needs.

How does this technology integrate into the healthcare setting?

Learning to follow new medication protocols, dealing with side effects and starting treatment all involve significant lifestyle changes that can be hard, lonely and frustrating. Highly tailored digital health tools have proven to improve outcomes and track medication and treatment adherence.

What do you see as the big opportunities in digital health?

Digital health is enabling patients to take control of their health. However, everyone is different and a “one size fits all” approach does not work. The opportunity here is to provide multi-modal approaches with algorithms designed to tailor the treatment experience and track outcomes.

Contact

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Liberate

Liberate solves the biggest problem in healthcare communication today: the illusion that “communication” has taken place. Today, patients retain less than 20% of the information that their doctors tell them at point of care, leaving the majority of patients not knowing what to do when they leave their physicians’ offices. Liberate ensures that the interactions between healthcare professionals and patients are more meaningful, memorable and actionable, improving outcomes across the entire patient-care pathway.

What makes this technology/business unique?

Imagine a world where doctors are enabled to be great educators and resource curators, empowering patients to take control of their health based on personalized, credible and relevant information.

Liberate has made this dream a reality by introducing a mobile health app that helps physicians and other healthcare professionals to create and share educational content with patients about their conditions, treatments and ongoing disease management. This content is truly unique as it leverages healthcare infographics or data visualizations to ensure that patients understand and retain information. These infographics are created and reviewed by healthcare experts to ensure that each teaching asset is accurate, current and memorable. Healthcare practitioners educate their patients using this content in combination with voice, annotation, notes and images, saving the entire interaction as a digital Patient Visit Record (PVR).

Liberate understands that creating the PVR asset is only the first step toward empowering patients to take control of their health. We also know that patients must be given the opportunity to own and review their PVR securely at home, which is why Liberate created a Patient Portal. Once the healthcare professional sends the PVR to his or her patient, the patient is notified by an email that includes a link to his or her asset and portal. Healthcare professionals can also extend the patient’s post-visit education by curating and sending a range of patient self-education and management assets.

Liberate’s unique combination of infographic-based content, Patient Visit Records and Patient Portals critically ensure that patients are truly able to understand their conditions and that their treatments are fully optimized.

How does this technology integrate into the healthcare setting?

Liberate’s strategy has been to integrate directly into point of care because we believe that it is the most critical and transformative moment in the patient-care pathway. With the majority of doctors using their mobile devices as frequently as their stethoscopes or blood pressure cuffs during patient visits, Liberate saw a significant opportunity to leverage these devices for patient education. Today, many healthcare professionals still provide their patients with an array of print materials or starter packages that are highly impersonal and difficult to understand. Liberate decided to move this material from the physical to the digital, offering healthcare professionals the ability to educate their patients using Liberate’s mobile health app to create personalized educational materials. Healthcare professionals then send these digital assets to their patients to ensure that post-visit treatment plans are understood and followed, improving patient outcomes across the entire patient-care pathway.

What do you see as the big opportunities in digital health?

Digital health has accelerated the largest fundamental change in healthcare today: the empowered patient. For Liberate, empowerment means that healthcare is a physician’s concern, but a patient’s responsibility, and we believe this means starting with patient education that is meaningful, accurate and accessible online. Digital health tools that provide patients with personalized treatment plans, online calculators and access to social networks will encourage more and more patients to participate fully in their healthcare. This will not only lead to stronger, more educated patients, but it will also help create deeper, more interconnected relationships with healthcare professionals overall.

Contact

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DMAR

The Dialysis Measurement Analysis and Reporting (DMAR) system provides dialysis programs with high-quality benchmarking information to improve their practices and lower costs.

The DMAR system:

1. accurately measures healthcare performance using a scalable web-based platform;
2. reduces the workload of front-line healthcare staff to collect performance data required for funding; and
3. creates a sustainable model for data collection to improve the accountability and quality of healthcare.

What makes this technology/business unique?

We have adapted the well-established methods used in clinical trials to collect high-quality data about healthcare performance. Our system creates a scalable solution that is designed to be used at the point of care by nurses assisted by administrative assistants. The system, called the DMAR (Dialysis Measurement Analysis and Reporting) system, is currently being use in eight dialysis programs across Canada.

How does this technology integrate into the healthcare setting? 

Front-line healthcare workers (usually nurses) assisted by administrative assistants are trained on the DMAR system. They enter data throughout their workweek to meet mandatory provincial requirements. Our team provides ongoing coaching and centralized reviews to achieve very high data standards. Dialysis programs can distribute workloads across a variety of staff without losing data quality. We also provide analysis, reporting and customized decision support for program leaders.

What do you see as the big opportunities in digital health?

The increased focus on healthcare accountability and performance measurement creates an opportunity to build new data systems in healthcare that are specifically designed to track performance. These systems should complement existing electronic medical records (EMRs), but require new designs and mechanisms to maintain data quality and facilitate meaningful analysis. Ideally, EMRs should feed data to performance systems, but data still needs to be filtered and organized to meet data standards, provide meaningful analysis and ultimately create new efficiencies.

Contact

  • Dr. Matthew Oliver,
    Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto
    Director of Home Dialysis, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
    Founder and President of Oliver Medical Management Inc.

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Sensory Technologies

Sensory Technologies’ lead solution, Community Care Manager Enterprise (CCMe™), is a hosted, collaborative, care-centred wireless smartphone and web application system that transforms the increasingly paper-burdened process of home care into an electronic data collection and real-time information system. CCMe enables a new, more efficient and effective human resource model that drastically improves the delivery of community care. CCMe leverages existing clinical experts to keep complex patients at home by enabling distributed virtual care teams; this provides incredible productivity gains and access to centralized data never before possible in a traditional home-care environment.

What makes this technology/business unique?

We enable new service delivery models, providing the foundation for better home-care outcomes achieved at a drastically more effective cost. The CCMe solution fits existing traditional models of home care while enabling new, cutting-edge care models through clinician-to-clinician remote tethering. Based on customized, market-proven technology, CCMe is a vertical healthcare solution that connects the clinician working at the bedside with management and government in real time, enabling incredible productivity gains across the entire home-care system as well as access to a centralized patient data source.

How does this technology integrate into the healthcare setting?

After the initial “wow factor,” our systems become a background activity like all other well-designed tools, allowing the front-line clinicians to easily collaborate with the team and focus their collective energies on the patient.

What do you see as the big opportunities in digital health?

Anything that:

  • drives transparency;
  • proves to reduce readmissions;
  • increases standing capacity of the existing workforce; and
  • delivers lower overall treatment costs.

Contact

  • Patrick Blanshard, Co-founder, President and CEO
  • Andrew Matthews, Vice-President of Sales
  • Company website

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Caitlin McCabe

Caitlin helps make sure our clients in the life sciences and health care industry have a great experience with our life sciences practice at MaRS. See more…