Aetonix purchased by Trudell Medical
February 24, 2021
OTTAWA – Aetonix, a telehealth company whose aTouchAway videoconferencing system allows users to securely communicate with healthcare workers and family members at the touch of a screen, has been acquired by Trudell Medical, of London, Ont.
Aimed at patients suffering from heart disease and conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Aetonix’s system is now found in more than 250 hospitals in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. and has more than 30,000 users, the Ottawa Business Journal reported.
Messages in the aTouchAway system are encrypted to ensure patient data is protected and files are deleted after 72 hours to protect users’ privacy.
The company was founded seven years ago by entrepreneur Michel Paquet (pictured). It has been part of Invest Ottawa’s startup ecosystem for years and earned a spot in the Canadian Technology Accelerator, a program from Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service that helps companies tap into foreign markets.
About two years ago, Aetonix began working with ProResp, a subsidiary of London, Ont.-based medical equipment manufacturer Trudell Medical that provides respiratory therapy to patients in their homes. ProResp adapted aTouchAway for use as a virtual care platform, allowing therapists to treat patients remotely.
“They really liked the product,” Paquet said. Trudell had been looking to enter the digital healthcare market and saw Aetonix as a perfect partner to help it establish a quick foothold in the space.
The two sides started talking about a deal last summer, and the transaction was finalized on Feb. 1. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Like Aetonix, Trudell’s main markets are in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., but the company also has a presence in many other countries. “From our side, it gives us an opportunity to reach markets that we’ve never reached before,” said Paquet.
The Ottawa company has grown steadily for most of its existence, but really took off after Paquet paid a visit to England last January. A couple of months later, the CEO got a call from doctors at London’s St. Thomas Hospital asking if aTouchAway could be used with patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“That one (call) turned out to be the beginning of an amazing story,” says Paquet, a computer engineer who previously worked at Nortel and IBM before launching his own company.
With the help of mentors such as Invest Ottawa head Mike Tremblay, Aetonix soon forged partnerships with Amazon Web Services and British Telecom, which installed aTouchAway on customers’ tablets and other mobile devices throughout Britain. In a matter of months, its product was in the hands of close to 20,000 patients at 176 hospitals across the U.K.
Paquet, whose firm has grown from five employees to 12 in the last year while its revenues have also risen substantially, says the pandemic accelerated Aetonix’s ascent. But numbers aren’t what he’s most eager to talk about.
The entrepreneur says what brings him the most joy is making a tangible difference in users’ lives. He cites the example of a COVID-19 patient in a British intensive care unit whose wedding was conducted over aTouchAway.
“It was really awesome,” he says. “The biggest gift is when you see your product really changing the life of people like this. That is so rewarding. It drives the team to success.”