Techopia Live: Aetonix tackles at-home care market in Ontario, U.S.

As pressure on Ontario’s healthcare system rises amid concerns of overcrowding in hospitals, one Ottawa startup is finding its niche in improving at-home care for patients with complex care needs. Michel Paquet, CEO of Aetonix, joined Techopia Live this week to discuss how the company is improving remote care both in its home province and south of the border.

Aetonix develops a telehealth platform called aTouchAway that connects care providers to patients with chronic diseases and their families, reducing the need for hospital visits, keeping tabs on patients after they’ve left the hospital and giving support when and where it’s needed.

Aetonix has implemented that platform at the Lennox & Addington County General Hospital in Napanee as part of a program for patients with inflammatory lung disease. Before aTouchAway, the hospital was seeing patient readmission rates of 26 per cent after 30 days; once the program started, that number dropped to three per cent.

“We had great success there,” Paquet told Techopia Live. “We’re quite proud of actually having an impact like this on people’s lives.”

The Napanee hospital case study was one of the stories Paquet told onstage at last November’s TiECon Canada pitchfest, where Aetonix took first place.

Aetonix has been a member of the Invest Ottawa startup system for several years, but this past summer the firm earned a place in the Canadian Technology Accelerator – a program run out of Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service to land companies in foreign markets. The Ottawa startup took part in the program from Cambridge, Mass., where Paquet said the company received mentorship from experts who understood the subtleties of the complex U.S. healthcare industry.

"It's like drinking from a firehose."

“It’s like drinking from a firehose,” he said.

The U.S. healthcare system, with its mix of private and public models, is a different beast entirely from the largely public Canadian approach. Paquet said his time in the CTA taught him about where Aetonix’ niche should be in the industry – namely, targeting the intersection of payers (insurance companies) and providers (hospitals) where reducing readmission rates is paramount to maximizing return on investment.

Paquet told Techopia Live there’s been a realization in the U.S. that complex care represents a substantial chunk of any healthcare provider’s budget. The insurance industry has shifted its focus to encourage hospitals to make use of solutions that can help patients remotely, he said, opening the door for companies like Aetonix to make an impact.

“They’ve made the realization that we need to support people at home,” Paquet said.