The Making it in Canada panel. From left, moderator Ashley Challinor, Toronto councillor, Geoff Evans, president of Eurofins Alphora, Fariba Anderson, CEO of AcuteNet, Natalie Dakers, CEO of Accel-Rx, Edward Shim, Managing Director, Studio 1 Labs, and Lori Cassleman, CHO of League. Photo by Alex Coop.

Published: April 13th, 2018

Innovation and a focus on front-line workers are common themes among several Canadian healthcare companies.

“The health industry is cash strapped,” said Fariba Anderson, CEO of AcuteNet during the Impact Health 2018 Summit in Toronto, where she was joined by four other CEOs who provided guests some valuable insight into their companies’ growth and impact on the industry.

Anderson’s statement was echoed several times throughout the summit. Multiple speakers referred to the use of fax machines in hospitals and insurance companies, and the pressures front-line workers face on a daily basis, pressure that are amplified by the sheer number of detailed assessments and administrative duties they have to perform, often without innovative tools.

That’s where companies such as AcuteNet step in. The company’s cloud-based software provides hospitals, home care, long term care facility, community care, palliative care, hospices, and mental health institutions with their own private, encrypted patient information platform that can be accessed by any desktop or mobile device in both online and offline modes.

Since February 2016, AcuteNet’s sharing economy use has grown by 2.8 million patients and 11,000 users. It’s also used in more than 100 locations across the world.

This level of innovation also extends to health insurance, where League has carved out a space for itself. CHO Lori Cassleman said 90 per cent of employees want their benefits to be delivered in a much more innovative way, she told the audience.

“Fax machines and call centres, these very archaic ways of doing things are still being used in insurance … so there’s a tremendous opportunity for change,” Cassleman said as she walked through the company’s thought process behind League’s creation. League helps companies build individualized health plans around the needs of their workforce, a service that’s recently been simplified even further with the introduction of League’s Digital Wallet, an app that lets customers easily pay for health and wellness services, review benefit coverages and keep tabs on spending. The Toronto startup also did a good job identifying the fact that 70 per cent of costs and 80 per cent of the incidence of chronic disease are preventable, according to the World Health Organization.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity to identify risks and proactively manage health, prevent chronic diseases and its cost,” she said.

But Cassleman said League’s most unique trait is its global reach, something she suggested many Canadian companies hesitate to achieve.

“We thought it was critical that we think globally, so we made a conscious decision that we didn’t want to be the fly on the elephant, we wanted to be the elephant. We wanted to own the experience and own the engagement with the consumer,” she explained.

Edward Shim, managing director of Studio 1 Labs, wholeheartedly agreed. Studio 1 Labs, which in two years has developed an intelligent bedsheet that can accurately record vital signs without any direct contact of wires or electrodes, is undergoing clinical trials with the help of five university partnerships and other academic institutions, and thanks to a global patent, is gaining serious traction in Asia.

“For a medical device to get validation and the computational power like that, it makes us globally competitive,” said Shim, adding the support of SOSCIP, a company that connects companies with smart computing for innovation projects, was an enormous help because it’s helping turn the information gathered by intelligent bedsheet into data that can actually be used by hospitals. “That’s what hospitals are attracted by – what’s your data and how can we support it.”

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