In the same week that national newspapers decried a crisis in healthcare, quieter news spelled hope for those concerned with improving the quality of life for Canada’s rising number of seniors. A program led by Toronto Rehabilitation Institute will use a platform created by tech pioneer SmartONE Solutions Inc. to develop and launch assistive technologies that help manage healthcare at home.
Funding for the aptly named PATH (Program to Accelerate Technologies for Homecare) will support a three-phase collaboration that begins by extending the SmartONE solution already installed at University of Toronto to three other universities in Canada. Phase two will see the development of products that contribute to the growing portfolio of SmartONE buildings and allow residents the opportunity to try new technologies and participate in their development. Technologies that prove successful will then be tested at the commercialization level to verify their value.
For Ted Maulucci, Co-Founder and President of SmartONE Solutions Inc., it’s a dream come true. “I have spent a significant amount of time looking for ways to bring academia and business together to commercialize top Canadian research,” he says. “This program is an opportunity to leverage the brightest machine learning and artificial intelligence experts to create viable products that will improve lives and help solve the challenges of an aging demographic.”
Dr. Geoff Fernie, Creaghan Family Chair in Prevention and Healthcare Technologies, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, is pleased to see The HomeLab at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute play a key role in SmartONE’s initiative to develop, integrate and implement assistive technologies to help manage healthcare at home.
“Our hospitals are overcrowded and we would all prefer to have our healthcare delivered at home using technologies that can help us diagnose and manage chronic diseases,” he says. “The use of single instruments alone to detect healthcare problems often leads to too many false alarms, and frustration. We need a way to connect various instruments together so that artificial intelligence can be applied to get the right message about our home patient reliably to the right care provider at the right time.”
As a member of the University Health Network, The HomeLab is positioned well for involvement in the research, integration and implementation of multiple assistive care technologies. It also benefits from the support of AGE-WELL National Centre of Excellence, a pan-Canadian network that brings together researchers, older adults, caregivers, partner organizations and future leaders to accelerate the delivery of technology-based solutions to facilitate aging in place.
“We think of home-focused smart technologies that can open doors, play music, and adjust the temperature, but the reality is that advanced analytics and machine learning hold the key to staying connected and aging in the comfort of your own home,” says Maulucci. “With a shortage of people and resources to meet the demands of an aging population, technologies that can monitor your vital signs as you sit on the sofa are no longer an interesting option. They are now an absolute necessity.”