Automation and technology are impacting healthcare in Edmonton for the better. As technology continues to improve and develop, there are many companies who are using these advancements to benefit patients all across the province.
Dr. Russ Greiner is one of the primary researchers at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) and is also a professor of computing science at the University of Alberta. He specializes in machine learning for medical applications. In terms of how technology impacts the world of healthcare, he states, “There is now a tremendous opportunity for artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance healthcare practitioners’ ability to understand their patients’ status and make data-driven decisions that will lead to better health outcomes.”
Amii seeks to enhance understanding and innovation within the numerous subfields of machine intelligence, which is said to exist at the intersection of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Machine intelligence is advanced computing that enables a machine to interact with its environment in an intelligent way. Amii specializes in the research and development of machine learning technologies, which enables a computer system to actually learn from, and continuously adapt to, data without being explicitly programmed for that data. So, how exactly does all of this relate to healthcare?
Dr. Greiner’s work is currently focused in the areas of personalized medicine and computational psychology, producing machine learning tools that enable data-driven assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, and survival time prediction. He states, “The rapid development of machine learning technologies, which underpins most of these AI-related results, has allowed researchers like those at Amii to develop methods for leveraging the many varieties of data available to physicians – clinical features, omics data, medical imaging and so forth – in ways that we could never have done previously. Through these tools, today’s physicians are gaining the crucial insights needed to help future patients, built from the knowledge of human experts and the experiences of the countless patients who came before.”
The advancements that are being made within the healthcare industry are having a profound effect on the quality of care that patients are receiving, while also shortening recovery times following an injury. Grant Fedoruk is an owner and the president of Leading Edge Physiotherapy, with clinics in St. Albert and Edmonton. Leading Edge Physiotherapy strives to be exactly that: a leader in the industry, offering the latest in automation and technology to their patients. Fedoruk explains, “We strive to live up to that name in our interactions with patients, in our investment in technology and training, and in our dedication to hiring the right people who share our values.”
Aquatic therapy, also known as hydrotherapy, is one of the many offerings available to patients at Leading Edge Physiotherapy. What makes their hydrotherapy program stand out is their investment in Swimex technology, which is often only reserved for elite athletes. On its own, aquatic therapy allows patients to strengthen weakened muscles, while reducing any joint and soft-tissue swelling. The buoyancy of water supports the patient’s weight, reducing the compressive loading forces that are often present within land-based activity programs.
Swimex technology takes hydrotherapy one step further, offering patients the opportunity to train in a heated pool with a controlled water current, in order to swim in a ‘static’ setting. Fedoruk explains, “The pool is equipped with depth adjustments, workstations, controllable speed water current and observation windows. We are able to exercise our patients in a temperature-controlled environment that allows for more flexibility and a reduction in pain-associated limitations.”
As the technology within the pool is fully adjustable, every session can be customized per patient. Considering the science behind Swimex technology, Fedoruk states, “The resistance, hydrostatic pressure and proprioception provided by the heated moving water stimulates muscle contraction patterns, making this form of aquatic therapy an excellent tool for treatment of low back pain, neck pain, as well as for the complete range of orthopaedic conditions including joint replacements and reconstructions.”
In the same way that Swimex technology offers less resistance to movement than any of the exercises that can be done on land, the Alter-G Zero Gravity Treadmill® takes the pressure off of an injury so that rehabilitation can happen gradually. Fedoruk explains the benefits of such technology, stating, “With the Alter-G Zero Gravity Treadmill, we are able to get our patients weight bearing in a comfortable and safe environment earlier than they would otherwise. This not only speeds recovery timelines but can also reduce the pain and risk inherent with them.”
The technology behind the Alter-G Zero Gravity Treadmill was originally developed for use in space, so that astronauts could exercise, despite living within a zero-gravity environment. By bringing this technology to the patients of Edmonton, those who are injured or in pain have the opportunity to rehabilitate their bodies and exercise in a safe environment. This treadmill can reduce a person’s body weight in 1 per cent increments, until you reach the maximum of 20 per cent. There is a direct impact on today’s healthcare industry, as Fedoruk states, “These technologies not only allow a person to regain activity sooner, but they do it in a way that is less painful.” He further explains, “The impact on healthcare in Edmonton is that it raises the bar. By pushing the envelope with technology, we are able to improve on the successes we already have with patients every day.”
Technological advancements and automation clearly affect the type and scope of care that a patient receives, but Trioova is specifically concerning itself with the doctor-patient relationship. A business analyst for Trioova, explains, “Designed for patients, caregivers and families, Trioova is simplifying healthcare communication and collaboration. Trioova is Smart Healthcare, where and when you need it.”
As a company, Trioova seeks to empower the patient, caregiver and their loved ones by offering them a chance to experience connected healthcare.
Trioova believes that our healthcare systems are moving towards a model of connected care, in response to the cumbersome and disjointed communication channels of the past. By improving the quality of communication and opening up the lines of communication between a patient and their multiple clinicians and caregivers, Trioova hopes to empower patients and those people within their circle of care.
The analyst states, “Trioova gives patients and caregivers the tools they need to advocate for themselves in the healthcare system. Caregivers make up more than a quarter of the population; Trioova will empower and enable a caregiver’s ability to care for their loved ones.”
Advancements in technology and automation increase the accessibility of healthcare for those who need it, when they need it. For others, including Dr. Greiner and Fedoruk, these new developments make it possible to shorten the downtimes associated with injuries and get people back on their feet faster than ever before.
Perhaps Fedoruk says it best in stating, “In some instances, with technology, we are able to advance the rehabilitation sooner and our goal is that this ultimately leads to better outcomes for our patients than we would have seen without the technology.”
The healthcare industry is quickly expanding, with more automation and technology than ever before. At the rate at which these advancements are being released for public use, healthcare organizations and professionals must keep up, or risk falling behind on the times.