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Health Care Innovators in Edmonton

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In the field of health care, innovation is key. Business in Edmonton spoke with three local innovators that prove Edmonton is a leader in the evolving world of health care.

 

Health City

Back in 2018, we profiled Health City, an organization in Edmonton that “catalyzes, accelerates and connects the health innovation ecosystem in Edmonton and the surrounding region.” Now, we interviewed them again, to see how things have changed since we last spoke. If you are interested in reading our 2018 profile of Health City, you can find it on Business in Edmonton’s website.

According to Antonio Bruni, director of business development at Health City, they have been quite busy since 2018.

“Since being featured in November 2018, Health City has, first off, launched a number of initiatives that moved the needle forward on data.” For Health City, data is an important thing to focus on, as “the power to transform health lies in our ability to effectively use health data to impact outcomes and save costs in our system.”

Bruni explains one way in which Health City uses data to make progress, noting, “We launched an artificial intelligence and health data project to look at intervening early for seniors with complex health issues.” In addition to that, Bruni states that Health City is “about to launch a synthetic data project that creates a fictitious data set (thereby having no personal information) reflective of health data for use by the community.”

In addition to innovating in regard to data, Health City has also “improved government and industry collaborations and launched novel market opportunities in emerging sectors, such as augmented and virtual reality.” In regard to collaborations specifically, since 2018 Health City has “developed meaningful collaborations nationally and internationally with organizations including the Canadian College of Health Leaders, Digital Health Canada, the Digital Technology Supercluster (in BC), and the European Connected Health Alliance.”

Overall, Bruni and the team at Health City are incredibly happy with the progress and growth that they’ve seen over the last couple of years. The city of Edmonton’s progressiveness in regards to health care, according to Bruni, has been helpful in creating other successes as well. As Bruni states, “we have been incredibly fortunate to have leaders from the community contribute to the governance of Health City’s board of directors, as well as draw on the expertise of diverse stakeholders in the Health City steering committee, industry advisory committee, and working groups.”

Despite making such progress in the last two years, though, Bruni stresses that Health City is not done moving forward and innovating. “Health City’s goal is to build community platforms that allow companies to scale, as opposed to solely focusing on helping individual products get to market.” These larger initiatives, says Bruni, “enable multiple companies to benefit, strengthening our region’s critical mass in the new health economy.” Therefore, Health City will continue focusing on community when innovating in the field of health care, since they are certain that “locally and provincially, there are an abundance of assets that, when efforts are coordinated, have the potential to be transformative.”

 

Acumen Sports and Shoulder Clinic

Acumen Clinic provides assessment, diagnosis, and surgical and non-surgical care for shoulder and sports injuries in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Kelowna.

LeeAnne Gullett, project manager and certified athletic trainer, states, “We like to think we are transforming the health care field in setting the standard of care and raising the bar.” One of the main ways that Acumen innovates is by focusing on the quality of care that their patients receive. Gullet states, “I believe there is room for improvement in health care in Edmonton. People tend to forget it is about the patient and what they need and want.”

Because of this need for improvement in Edmonton’s health care services, Acumen takes pride in their quality of care, supporting each patient through their journey to living the active or pain-free life they are searching for.

“Acumen Clinic is challenging the common ways that health care is delivered, since we want our patients to have all the options and to be able to make the decision regarding their care plan,” she confirms.

In addition to their groundbreaking quality of care and open communication with patients, Acumen also innovates by utilizing platelet rich plasma injections, or PRP, as a pain reliever for arthritis. While PRP is not a regenerative medicine, it can be beneficial for pain relief, for the right candidates. Gullett shares, “We are constantly working to stay informed about the latest evidence for the use of PRP and other biologic treatments in the conditions we specialize in.”

Whether or not you are the right candidate for PRP injections, Acumen offers other options for recovery. “Many patients can benefit from proper integrated exercise and therapy.” That is why Acumen fully “believes in the powerful benefits of movement and the effects it has on a diverse population.”

In addition to their research and use of biologics for pain treatment, as well as their belief in the power of exercise and movement for proper recovery, Acumen also prides themselves on their high quality of care when it comes to patients. It is that quality of care that ensures their patients are properly informed about their surgical and non-surgical options, as well as their recovery, and that they know what to expect from their treatment journey.

 

Metabolomic Technologies Inc.

Metabolomic Technologies Inc. is an organization that specializes in “the development of novel metabolomics-based diagnostics for the health care market.” According to Kevin Ens, COO, their lead product, the PolypDx, is the first and only urine-based screening test for colorectal cancer.

Even though colorectal cancer, or CRC, is considered to be preventable at the precancerous polyp stage, it is still one of the leading causes of cancer in men and women worldwide.

Ens states, “Current fecal-based tests have low screening compliance and do not necessarily detect precancerous polyps.” Metabolomic Technologies Inc., therefore, developed PolypDx “in response to the inadequacies of current colorectal cancer screening methods and the urgent need for a more patient-friendly, accurate and inexpensive population-based screening test for CRC.”

Overall, they are pleased with the results. Ens points out that one of the most innovative aspects of the PolypDx is that it is a simple and effective test, requiring only a small urine sample to offer peace of mind in the prevention of cancer and the management of the disease.

For Metabolomic Technologies Inc., the city of Edmonton has been very helpful in getting their idea made into a reality.

“The city is home to the University of Alberta (U of A),” Ens says, “one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities with over $500 million in research activity. The U of A has leading researchers that enable new discoveries like ours, and that help provide the innovation that leads to groundbreaking new ideas.”

However, even with great researchers at the U of A, and the city’s public health system (one of the biggest in Canada), Ens believes there is room for improvement in Edmonton in terms of health care innovation. He says, “There are few health startups and there are virtually no health-related capital funds in Alberta. Often, we are required to reach outside of Alberta, and ultimately, outside of Canada to find the partners we need to finance our company and provide connections for us to move our technology forward.”

Despite some setbacks, though, Ens is happy with the way things have gone for Metabolomic Technologies Inc. and for PolypDx. By forging both national and international partnerships with health care and research organizations, Metabolomic Technologies Inc. has been able to release a truly innovative product, and one that will benefit the health care community not only in Edmonton, but hopefully all over the world.

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