Health Care Innovation Shines Bright in Canada
By Stacey Palangio
Virtual, smart, three-dimensional (3D), innovative, hyper, state of the art, high tech all are descriptive words for what is happening now in Canada’s health care scene. Physician-led ventures are building momentum in Canada and Joule, a company of the Canadian Medical Association, is helping to fuel their progress.
Each year, through its Innovation grant program, Joule provides funding of $150,000 to encourage, inspire and promote the innovative minds of physicians. Here are a few of the ventures that have been led by grant recipients.
3D4MD specializes in using 3D print technology to produce low-cost personalized medical supplies onsite, at any time and in any place using recycled materials.
For example, 3D4MD has produced assistive devices on 3D printers in clinics, pharmacies, libraries, schools, print shops and even people’s homes. This saves time and a tremendous amount of money for people with disabilities. Dr. Julielynn Wong is the founder of 3D4MD and was one of Joule’s first grant recipients.
Rapid Access Medical Care
Rapid Access Medical Care (RAM Care) is dedicated to making health care more accessible to homeless and marginalized individuals. Using mobile tele-medical units, care can be delivered to those with serious mental illness or addiction issues, and elderly patients who are immobile and do not have personal care.
RAM Care is spearheaded by Dr. Dennis DiValentino, the incoming president of the Hamilton Academy of Medicine and an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at McMaster University. According to DiValentino, “Virtual care is a vital component in the future of delivery of health care in this country. It can substantially reduce the costs of running our system while providing the same quality of care as in-person visits in a more efficient and timely manner.”
Pacey MedTech is on the cutting edge of incontinence research. Founded by Dr. Jack Pacey in 2016, Pacey MedTech’s flagship product is the Pacey Cuff, a cutting-edge urethral control device. Pacey is a retired vascular surgeon turned physician innovator and shows no sign of slowing down. “As physicians, we have a unique perspective on what processes or tools need improvement,” says Pacey. “The onus is on us to contribute to the discussion. As a practicing physician, care is provided to one patient at a time. As an innovator, the reach is potentially far greater.”
ReFilx is a synthetic soft-tissue filler that is custom-designed to function as a biodegradable scaffold to maintain breast shape after breast cancer surgery. ReFilx is a porous, amino acid-derived construct that does not trigger a foreign-body reaction like other synthetic materials when implanted. ReFilx facilitates the healthy growth of soft tissue into the pores of the construct, and then gradually degrades completely into non-toxic components. The newly regenerated soft tissue will then maintain the breast shape permanently.
Dr. Wey Leong is the co-creator of ReFilx and a surgical oncologist at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. “Our craft is so specialized and requires such a specific skillset,” says Leong. “I believe surgeons, in particular, can play an important role in developing tools and technology that can improve surgical outcomes.”
For Joule, innovation means bridging gaps, improving outcomes, speeding processes and creating solutions, says Joule CEO Lindee David.
In addition to funding, grant recipients benefit from guidance and mentorship, access to potential investors, and marketing and public relations support.
Stacey Palangio is a freelance writer from Ottawa, Ontario.