A Market-Driven PATH to Assistive Healthcare

 

“PATH (Program to Accelerate Technologies for Homecare) is a partnership with Toronto Rehabilitation Institute enabling the SmartONE solution to be installed in Universities and research labs across the country to bring assistive care technology to the commercialization stage. It is backed by the support of a government grant called AGE-WELL, which aims to foster the development of assistive technology for the aging population. This partnership really encapsulates my motivation behind building the SmartONE solution. It is an aggregate of some of the greatest problem solvers I have met during my career, working together towards tangible solutions for Canada’s changing demographic.” -Ted Maulucci

 

Hospitals should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, our group was told by Dr. Geoff Fernie, institute director of TRI-UHN. It seems contradictory to be told to avoid hospitals by a director of the top research hospital in the world, but his logic is undeniable. For an older person especially, a trip to the hospital can be distressing and lead to chronic issues from being cared for and placed in a bed for extended periods of time.

In the boardroom, listening to Dr. Geoff Fernie and Ted Maulucci speak about the project

In the boardroom, listening to Dr. Geoff Fernie and Ted Maulucci speak about the project

“We pay for procedures, not health”
— Dr. Geoff Fernie.

As the population ages and elderly care services become increasingly important, how do we optimize each dollar spent on healthcare and improve the quality of care delivered? Assistive care technologies in the home make this a reality and would in turn take a tremendous load off the healthcare system.

Using SmartONE technology to support assisted living was the topic of discussion during our first SmartONE Seminar at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute on July 22. Our group of attendees heard Dr. Geoff Fernie and Ted Maulucci speak about their exciting partnership to deliver a systematic and market-driven solution to assistive healthcare, under the name PATH (Program to Accelerate Technologies for Homecare). He explained how on the back of the SmartONE Solution, researchers could develop systematic approaches to integrating assistive care technology.

Touring the simulators in the winter lab at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI)

Touring the simulators in the winter lab at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI)

The current state of assistive technology in healthcare is that many individual intelligent devices work independently and communicate directly to the healthcare provider. This can lead to false alarms, because the technologies must be sensitive enough to detect changes in a patient’s body based on a single metric. Many false alarms from different devices can overwhelm the healthcare system and the professionals who must respond to them. On the back of SmartONE’s network solution, these devices can all be connected such that algorithms can be developed to analyze a greater aggregate of data and in turn, generate a more intelligent response. In short, there would be more information to analyze and cross-reference which would reduce the number of false alarms.

For example, instead of a single fall detector communicating to healthcare providers that someone has fallen, the system could check other cameras and sensors to determine if the person is moving somewhere else in the house. This is the magic of the SmartONE Solution - these innovative technologies can all be integrated on the same network using SmartONE’s backbone in order to analyze the data and construct a cohesive sequence of events to communicate the right message to the right people regarding the patient’s care.

Dr. Geoff Fernie showing the group his hospital room simulator, used for the research and development of commercial healthcare innovations

Dr. Geoff Fernie showing the group his hospital room simulator, used for the research and development of commercial healthcare innovations

PATH is split into three phases, from research to commercialization. The first phase is to validate the data of individual technologies to be integrated on the SmartONE system. Currently PATH operates from one research facility in Toronto, with plans to expand to Waterloo, Ottawa, and Edmonton. The second phase is market trials; consumers will test and determine which technologies are valuable to them. The third phase is an ongoing evaluation of the efficacy and adoption of graduated technologies. SmartONE provides a network to centralize and evaluate these healthcare innovations, in turn removing ceilings to the potential for greater innovation and growth.

Ted Maulucci showing the home lab where new technologies will be developed and tested on the SmartONE-enabled platform

Ted Maulucci showing the home lab where new technologies will be developed and tested on the SmartONE-enabled platform

AGEWELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life NCE Inc.), a government funded technology and aging network, will be supporting the project with grants to assist in hiring researchers. Currently, there are literature reviews being conducted in the field of homecare systems to provide a base of knowledge on which to move forward.

This is healthcare driven by the needs and market decisions of the people, for the people.

Ted Maulucci