Five-million-dollar shot in the arm to boost innovation in the healthcare system

TORONTO, April 17, 2015 /CNW/ - New technologies to improve life-saving communication, help prevent strokes or advance epilepsy treatment will be helping patients thanks to a new Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) program aimed at fostering innovation in Ontario's healthcare system.

The AdvancingHealth program is administering a $5 million booster shot for some revolutionary innovations being funded under a collaborative research program matching healthcare system needs and challenges with exciting technologies.

Under the program, a partnership between OCE and Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, five healthcare-related information communication technology projects received up to $350,000 each, in addition to cash and in-kind support from industry partners and some of Ontario's top hospitals.

"This program is providing an unprecedented opportunity for companies and academics to demonstrate innovative products in the Ontario healthcare system," says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE's President and CEO. "Ontario has an incredibly strong research and development community that is well positioned to introduce new technologies and innovative processes to the healthcare sector."

Managed by OCE and funded through Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, AdvancingHealth's aim is to foster healthcare innovation leading to improved health outcomes, enhanced patient experience and efficient use of the system's resources.

"Our government is committed to supporting healthcare-related technology innovation across the province to help provide Ontarians with the best and most efficient care possible," says David Orazietti, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. "The AdvancingHealth program will allow the public and private sectors to work together to build ground-breaking products and services. This program will help improve the healthcare procurement process, while also creating new jobs and will support the province's economy."

Also partnering in the program is Western University's Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation, which will analyze challenges and opportunities for innovation adoption and the sustainability of early market engagement established through this program.

For a full list of projects and participants, please see the attached backgrounder.

A call for expressions of interest for the second round of the AdvancingHealth program is now open. Full details can be found on the OCE website.

Additionally, a panel on the topic of innovation in the healthcare system will be held as part of OCE's Discovery conference on April 27-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. (

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, domestic and foreign investors, and government ministries. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices, innovation, entrepreneurship and research, OCE invests in such areas as advanced health, information and communications technology, digital media, advanced materials and manufacturing, agri-food, aerospace, transportation, energy, and the environment including water and mining. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), which helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs and industry rapidly grow their company and create jobs. Learn more at

Backgrounder – AdvancingHealth Projects

Innovative Mobile Technology Cardiac Arrhythmia Diagnostic Service

This proposal is a collaborative investment to improve cardiac diagnostics and stroke prevention in Ontario. It addresses the diagnosis of one of the most common and treatable risk factors for stroke – atrial fibrillation – a dangerous and difficult to diagnose irregular heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart that can travel to the brain causing debilitating strokes. In partnership with six hospitals and Medtronic Canada Ltd., this project aims to accelerate the uptake of an innovative new heart monitoring technology that is being pioneered in Ontario by m-Health Solutions. The ultimate goal is to prevent recurrent strokes by implementing a cost-effective and sustainable provincial strategy that will improve the identification, and consequently the treatment, of more patients with atrial fibrillation.

Project Partners: West GTA Stroke Region – Trillium Health, Hamilton Health Sciences, Stroke Mackenzie Health Hospital, William Osler Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital, The Scarborough Hospital, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, m-Health Solutions, Medtronic Canada Ltd.

An internet of things approach to mobile, smart and secure clinical alerting and messaging

This smart mobile clinical messaging and alerting system uses intelligent rules to automate hospital alerting and alarms to help improve mobile clinical messaging and alerting platforms. This project combines Mackenzie Health's clinical expertise in patient care with ThoughtWire's Ambiant platform and expertise in device integration and "smart" systems, Cisco Canada's expertise in wired and wireless network infrastructure and secure unified communications, and Blackberry's expertise in mobile devices and secure mobile device management, to create an Ontario-grown integrated, mobile, "smart" and secure clinical messaging and alerting solution.

Project Partners: Mackenzie Health, Cisco Systems Canada, Blackberry Technical Solutions, ThoughtWire

Improvements in fiber tract imaging for planning and navigation of neurosurgical procedures

Improving treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy is the aim of this collaboration between Western University and Synaptive Medical, a Toronto-based company that is developing next generation image-guided technologies that supports minimally invasive surgeries. Synaptive's systems are specifically designed to enable the surgeon to better plan and perform neurosurgical interventions with enhanced precision and safety. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) is an MRI imaging technique that uses the diffusion principles of water in the cerebral white matter tracts in order to create a 3D representation of fiber tracts. This project aims to demonstrate the role of DTI in presurgical planning and surgical navigation to minimize damage to important white matter structures and improve neurosurgical outcomes.

Project Partners: London Health Sciences Centre, Synaptive Medical Inc.

Oculys BRUNO-PIAH Solutions

Oculys Solutions, Waterloo's St. Mary's General Hospital and Grand River Hospital are working together to deliver cost-effective and real results that positively impact the patient experience while reducing hospital operating costs. The hospitals are installing the Oculys Solutions in two specialized nursing units. Both solutions are displayed on either a large interactive or a small bed-side screen. By visually communicating relevant information, nursing staff and patients/family receive current care needs. The nursing unit solution, currently named BRUNO, allows various members of a patient care team, including physicians and community care case managers, to access and update current information about a patient and eliminate frustrating and costly delays. The bedside solution, named PIAH, provides patients and families with relevant information and eliminates the need to seek out staff about specific care instructions including dietary restrictions, mobility precautions, safety risks, attending physician, diagnostic test scheduling, and the expected date of discharge.

Project Partners: St. Mary's General Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Oculys Health Informatics Inc.

mHealth platform (TickiT®) for improved patient engagement

TickiT is a patient-friendly software solution that has been designed to generate data that is of higher quality and a greater reflection of the individual's perceptions of their care and/or their overall health. TickiT's interactive interface and unique design are easy to use for patients at any literacy level, and with English as a second language (ESL). In collaboration with SickKids, the TickiT platform will be used in four clinical areas: Cardiology, Emergency Department, Plastic Surgery, and Adolescent Medicine, where the platform will host a series of screening and intake assessment tools. In addition, the platform will also be used to demonstrate its ability to better capture the patient experience in selected clinical program groups within SickKids hospital. This could have a significant impact on helping healthcare organizations and leaders better understand the patients they serve,  including acting more quickly on areas of improvement through the platform's ability to provide real-time feedback to those involved in the patient's care journey.

Project Partners: The Hospital for Sick Children, Shift Health Paradigms

SOURCE Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc.

For further information: Media contact: Stuart Green, Manager, Media Relations, Ontario Centres of Excellence, 416-861-1092 x 1022,


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