Patients with complex healthcare needs in the Ottawa region are using a local startup’s platform to better connect with doctors and family, thanks to $1.2 million in public and private funding.
Dubbed aTouchAway, the app connects patients such as aging Ontarians with caregivers and family on a single, easy-to-use platform. At the touch of a button, members of that support circle can assess, see and speak with patients remotely via the secure application.
It’s developed by Ottawa’s Aetonix Systems and is being piloted with the province’s Health Links services in the Arnprior and West Ottawa region.
Financing comes from Ontario’s $20-million Healthcare Technologies Fund, which aims to strengthen the province’s health innovation ecosystem. Aetonix’s platform is one of 15 projects assisted in the first round of the HTF, each of which is eligible for up to $500,000 in funding and/or 50 per cent of the project’s total cost.
All applications to the fund require a partnership between a public health service and a private tech firm. The $1.2 million in funding for this project includes contributions from the province, private partners such as Samsung Canada, as well as from Aetonix and Health Links themselves.
Aetonix was founded in 2014 and has since been incubated at Invest Ottawa. CEO Michel Paquet told OBJ earlier this year that he hopes to expand the firm’s solution to the roughly 680,000 patients across the 90 Health Links operating in Ontario.
An ailing province
Bill Charnetski, chief health innovation strategist with the province, expressed the need for more funding in Ontario healthcare earlier this year at Ottawa’s inaugural Industry, Issues & Insights event.
“The healthcare system is not sustainable. It needs to improve. And there is no way it’s going to improve without investment,” he said in February.
The goal of both aTouchAway and the Health Links services is to improve coordination in treatment of patients with complex needs, and reduce public costs accordingly. According to the province, five per cent of patients (most often those with multiple conditions) account of two-thirds of healthcare costs in Ontario.
"The (HTF) is already having an impact in the health system because of the collaborations it has created between health service providers, health technology innovators and patients," said Charnetski in a statement.
Elsewhere in the province, L-Spark portfolio company iamsick has launched a website to help Ontarians access healthcare services over the holiday season. Visiting holidayhours.ca provides a list of all nearby services and opening hours for roughly 400 communities across the province in more than 70 languages.