Start-up offers technology for remote dialysis
March 4, 2015
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Ontario’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. will provide $415,000 to eQOL, which will allow the company to complete clinical studies using its Dialysis Platform for Communication, Assistance and Training (DiCAT) product.
DiCAT logs and tracks the vital medical information of patients who undergo dialysis in their homes. The data is then shared with professionals at Sault Area Hospital via a secured online network, where it is monitored, processed and analyzed by trained staff.
According to the Sault Ste. Marie Star, a limited number of patients who regularly use portable dialysis machines in their homes have been involved in the clinical study. Officials did not say how many were involved.
The DiCAT technology was designed at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) by Binh Nguyen (pictured), president and CEO of eQOL (an acronym for ‘enhancing quality of life’).
“The funding will help us in a tremendous way … there are a lot of technical hurdles, healthcare has a lot of complex elements, a lot of resources to execute, so moving forward we have the solution adapted for a subset of dialysis patients, but we want to grow and make it available for other modalities,” Nguyen said.
“These functionalities can be applicable to any kind of home care, any kind of set up where the patient (or caregiver) is doing care remotely, away from their primary healthcare provider … we have very ambitious plans to expand the application of this solution as it is today.”
Once clinical trials are completed, eQOL hopes to commercialize their technology.
Marci Oliverio has been part of the study since last May. She says it’s comforting “knowing that the nurses at the renal unit can look at (my information) every day.”
“If I don’t catch something that’s not right, they’ll catch it that day before things get worse,” said Oliverio, one of about 20 people who were in attendance at SAH during the government of Ontario’s funding announcement.
Oliverio began dialysis at the local hospital some time ago, but was undergoing the process in her home when the study began.
DiCAT technology uses iPad and web-based applications to promote a shift from in-centre care to in-home care. “It’s user friendly, which is big considering the range of age of people on dialysis,” Oliverio said.
In some ways the new process has changed her life. “It’s given me more independence and more freedom, because I like to travel,” said the 44-year-old Sault woman.
The mobile technology solution also aims to reduce the intimidation some patients experience with the self-care process.
An additional $20,475, also provided through NOHFC, will allow eQOL to hire an intern under the Northern Ontario Internship Program.
DiCAT technology eases the travel burden on those who undergo dialysis at home, especially patients who live in remote regions many kilometres from healthcare centres because they will no longer need to make as many regular visits to renal units.
His company, which was founded in 2012, received $100,000 from the NOHFC in 2013, which helped drive the DiCAT initiative.