What’s Next Canada conference highlights innovations for seniors
April 30, 2019
The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), in partnership with Mary Furlong & Associates, held its first-ever What’s Next Canada Conference in March, bringing together experts and thought-leaders in aging and brain health to network and discuss current innovations in the care of seniors.
By 2050, it’s expected that one in five people will be 65 or older. But aging brings with it chronic conditions, and providing treatment to such expansive numbers may be unaffordable without new advances.
“Most people over 65 are living with two or more chronic conditions. And while treatment for these patients can be complex, it also creates a great opportunity for innovation,” said Mary Furlong, president and CEO of Mary Furlong and Associates, a strategy and business development company specializing in the boomer and seniors sectors.
Regarding the next big wave in aging care, experts point to emerging technologies such as smart medication management, EMR connected technology, robotics and virtual reality. They’re also looking to AI to help relieve the burden on caregivers and help them navigate the health system.
The conference featured a Pitch Competition that included nine innovative companies – all with a goal of improving treatment and quality of life for seniors through technology. Participants had just five minutes to highlight their solutions and impress a panel of six investors – with the goal of being selected winner of the 2019 CABHI Innovation Award or the People’s Choice Award.
The panelists were looking for scalable projects that were relatively low-cost, improved quality of care for seniors, and could be readily adapted for commercialization.
All participants in the pitch competition are current CABHI-funded projects and are receiving acceleration services with the goal of getting their innovations commercialized. Acceleration services include access to an advisory panel of experts with lived-in experience in aging and caregiving; business development services, and knowledge mobilization.
The 2019 CABHI Innovation Award was presented to Darmiyan, an online platform for the early detection of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Darmiyan is a virtual microscope of the human brain, meant to quantify values and provide earlier and more accurate diagnosis. By using a routine brain MRI, Darmiyan can predict whether individuals with cognitive impairment will develop Alzheimer’s. The system is being tested at Baycrest, UHN, Hamilton Health Sciences, Sunnybrook and Southlake Regional Health Centre.
The People’s Choice Award went to Catalyst Healthcare, of Kelowna, BC, for a medication adherence solution. The company aims to reduce the number of incidents of patients taking their medication incorrectly, thereby ensuring medication adherence. Catalyst Healthcare’s app, called MyMedTimes alerts patients to take their meds, and it also connects pharmacists and patients, providing a real-time communication platform.
Other innovators included:
- Linked Senior: A cloud-based resident engagement solution that offers real-time reports and analytics; it shows care-givers what is working for each client, and what is not. By understanding a resident’s life experience, staff can see beyond a person’s medical needs and develop a more person-centric care plan, including music therapy, brain fitness and sensory activities.
- Motitech: Through the use of video, music and physical activity, Motitech aims to improve quality of life for seniors by promoting an active mind and body. After six-months of beta testing, there was a dramatic reduction in falls, and some clients in wheel chairs gained back their mobility. Whether combined with or without an exercise bike, seniors can take a trip through their old neighbourhood and reminisce.
- Careteam Technologies: A digital collaboration platform that helps care teams follow up with patients and their families, tracking their progress and keeping everyone on the same page. The result is better communication and improved care provider experience.
- Memotext: Utilizing an Amazon Echo-type device to provide medication reminders, Memotext bridges the gap between patient and caregiver. Like a virtual nurse providing patient support, Memotext checks on medication adherence, and the patient’s well-being. The result is better patient outcomes.
- Intuition Robotics: A friendly AI device, called ElliQ, can connect seniors to family; play music, give the weather, monitor their well-being with reminders to drink water, exercise and even provide companionship. Beta tested with 100 elderly adults, it can integrate with telehealth. ElliQ is meant to supplement, not replace human interaction.
- InteraXon: An application that uses neurofeedback technology, via a headband, to detect and measure an individual’s brain signals during meditation. InteraXon aims to explore what’s happening in a person’s head to help improve well-being.
- RetiSpec: Transforming Alzheimer’s screening in the blink of AI. The application aims to provide intervention of brain disease before symptoms begin to appear. RetiSpec is a simple eye test that doesn’t use eye drops, and has been clinically tested on 31 patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It works by detecting Alzheimer’s biomarkers prior to patient diagnosis.
Graeme Moffat, chief scientist at InteraXon, believes one of the challenges of bringing a device to market is taking it from consumer to clinical usability. In an ideal ecosystem, there is a rapid adoption of solutions so it’s important to bring the right solution to market. “We need to get the technology prototype in front of the user, and get real world response and evidence before releasing it to the mainstream.”
Ane Solesvik Oppedal, CEO of Ably Medical Inc., agreed, and added “As much as people would like us to get it to market quickly, it’s even more important we do our due diligence, and test it properly before bringing it to market.”