On November 17 the MaRS Procurement by Co-Design Advisory Board awarded Co-Design Grants to four innovation teams made up of Ontario healthcare delivery organizations and technology vendors. The grants were awarded based on five criteria:

  • Compelling Challenge
  • Fit with Innovation Partnership & Co-Design Process
  • Promising Approach
  • Impactful Outcomes
  • Ready Team

Each team will receive $25,000 in funding to support their efforts in undertaking the procurement by co-design process as part of the second cohort. Here is a snapshot of the winning projects.

Preventing falls in acute care settings

North York General Hospital (NYGH) and Globestar Systems’ Connexall are working together to create a solution that will predict and prevent falls in a hospital setting. In Canada, 1 in 3 seniors experience falls which can lead to a loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and even death. In a hospital setting, falls often occur unwitnessed, and are mainly experienced by patients who are unaware of their own cognitive or physical limitations. With 60% of the patients admitted to NYGH being 65+, there is a significant need for an innovative tool to prevent falls in this vulnerable patient population.

This team will co-design a patient fall prevention and detection solution by leveraging Connexall’s Patient Fall Protection patented technology which analyzes both the patient’s fall risk level from the hospital’s electronic medical record system (EMR) and the ongoing real-time state of the patient’s bed configuration, without having to replace the beds. Effective fall preventions will improve patient safety by decreasing the number of incidents, resulting in increased patient, family, and caregiver satisfaction while at the same time reducing healthcare costs.

Creating a seamless journey for hospital visitors

Like many other hospitals, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto (SJHC) is a complex facility made up of various wings constructed at different times over the past 90 years. Many patients and visitors who walk through the doors of SJHC at any one of its many main entry points do so with distraction, illness, concern, and expedience.

Helping visitors find the fastest, easiest, and the most accessible route is a challenge that Nicole Poos, Manager of Volunteer Services of St. Joseph’s Health Centre (SJHC), and Hongwei Liu, CEO of Mappedin are tackling through the co-design process. Currently, volunteers at the hospital spend a lot of time helping visitors find their way through the hospital but despite this visitors often arrive late or miss their appointments.

The team will co-design a solution that draws on Mappedin’s experience creating wayfinding solutions for retail environments that will increase visitor satisfaction and also free up time for hospital volunteers to engage in more rewarding activities.

Improving lower limb amputee rehabilitation using 3D printed sockets

Dr. Amanda Mayo, Amputee Rehab Physician of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Matt Ratto, Chief Science Officer of Nia Technologies, are working to reduce the cost and time of lower limb prosthetic socket fabrication and prosthetic fitting. Currently, laborious manual plaster casting and prosthetic fabrication techniques lead to delays in fitting and patient rehab. Such delays put patients at higher risk for functional decline, contractures, pressure sores and falls. This co-design project seeks to return patients to walking sooner thus preventing functional decline while creating a more efficient and cost-effective process.

A number of companies and individuals are beginning to explore the use of 3D printing for mobility prosthetics, yet few of them have clinical experience beyond a few cases. Nia Technologies has developed a full software/hardware tool-chain for prosthetics and has carried out clinical trials at four hospital sites in three developing world countries with paediatric transtibial amputees.

This co-design project leverages Nia’s previous work but focuses on adaptation of Nia’s tool-chain to support the workflow of Sunnybrook clinical staff in adult rehab in North American contexts including physicians, physical therapists, and prosthetists.

Increasing accuracy and efficiency of pathology labs through automation

Bernard Schaan, Laboratory Manager at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and Alex Bushell, CEO of Lab Improvements are working on improving the turnaround time (TAT) for archived surgical specimen slide diagnosis.

The lab at PRHC currently processes 125,000 slides per year. This number will continue to increase as early diagnosing technology continues to improve, resulting in more surgical biopsies. Current processes rely heavily on humans handling samples, and handwritten forms requesting samples, which offers little to no traceability. A significant amount of time and space is used to archive the slides, and the process can lead to filing errors.

To address this problem, Lab Improvements and PRHC are developing a benchtop device that will act as an automated archiver and database manager, allowing staff in the lab to focus on higher-yield activities. The co-design process gives PRHC the freedom to collaborate directly with Lab Improvements to develop a comprehensive solution that can be implemented and scaled for use in labs across Canada and throughout the world.

What’s next

The innovation teams officially kicked-off their projects on November 20th at MaRS. The Procurement by Co-Design team hosted a full-day session focusing on user engagement and creating shared understanding with visual mapping tools.

Each team will work on their project over the next 30 weeks to engage users, prototype solutions and test a minimally viable product before making a decision to procure the solution. Teams that decide to procure the solution will compete for an additional procurement grant of up to $50,000 on July 20, 2018.

Learn more about Procurement by Co-Design

Reach the MaRS Procurement by Co-Design team at designchallenge@marsdd.com

About the Innovation Partnership: Procurement by Co-Design program at MaRS

A partnership between MaRS Discovery District and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the initiative offers healthcare service providers the opportunity to participate in the development of innovative solutions with technology vendors to address complex problems they face while complying with the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive. This project is funded in full by the OntarioBuys program. OntarioBuys makes investments to support innovation and to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of an integrated supply chain, back-office leading practices, and operational excellence by driving collaboration and improving supply chain processes in Ontario’s broader public sector.