Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Creating an innovation ecosystem where high-tech meets health-care

As originally published by Perspective

Host to more than 24,000 students, including 6,500 who are pursuing graduate degrees or second undergraduate degrees, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario is ambitious about building synergies and ecosystems. The Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI) team develops and facilitates partnerships with industry, governments, national and international partners, not-for-profit organizations, and other academic institutions to advance the university’s research enterprise, bring inventions to market, and strengthen the regional innovation ecosystem in which the university is a key player.

QPI collaborates with many partners in Kingston and Eastern Ontario to develop and deliver programs and services that accelerate the growth of entrepreneurs, startups, and small to medium-sized enterprises, and to attract innovative companies to invest in and establish operations in the region. Leveraging Queen’s strengths and resources and critical funding from the Government of Canada, QPI offers numerous programs and services to help high-tech companies launch and gain traction or grow and scale up for those pursuing global market opportunities. QPI also offers a suite of programs and services to support women entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups and sectors as part of the Government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. In the near future, QPI and partners will launch new programs and services to help health-innovation focused companies build and scale operations in Kingston.

QPI is pleased to showcase Kingston-based companies that are making a difference in the exciting space where high-tech meets health-care.

Elentra

The Elentra team has been working with university-level health sciences schools for over a decade to create a truly unified, cloud-based system that provides institutions with the ability to digitize their curriculum to boost efficiency and deliver an excellent user experience.

Originally developed at Queen’s, Elentra is now used around the world. A cloud-based teaching aid, scheduling system and assessment tool all-in-one, Elentra empowers academic institutions to train the next generation of health-care professionals to better serve their patients and advance medical research using the only complete on-line platform built by and for health sciences schools.

Elentra’s assessment and evaluation module includes a suite of robust and flexible tools designed to help instructors assess learners, in clinical and traditional learning environments, and to deliver and administer their educational programming, from basic assessments to final exams. Elentra makes it easy to manage assessment and evaluation processes by providing tailored dashboards for different user types. It also allows learners to create multiple user groups, such as discussion forums, and gives them the ability to create assessments of their own progress as well as that of peers and small groups. Within Elentra, learners, faculty and staff have all the tools required to deliver, consume, and administer their educational programming. Elentra’s user-centred approach to design ensures users’ needs are met, no matter how complex their requirements, and that everyone has a consistent experience, allowing them to concentrate on what they need to do, with the technology enabling, not hindering, their experience.

Kinarm

Neurological injuries and disease are among the most devastating that people can suffer. Despite their prevalence, clinician scientists trying to develop new therapies, have to rely on tools that are outdated because of their crudeness and subjective nature.

Kinarm offers a solution to this lack of precision and consistency. The Kinarm Lab gives clinician-scientists a “window” on brain function that is both objective and quantitative, allowing them to study the sensory, motor, and cognitive impacts of a wide range of injuries and disease and measure the benefit of new therapies.

During an assessment, the subject interacts with the robot and performs a task, such as directing a hand to a target, or interacting with an object in the environment. While they do this, the robot precisely actuates and records their arm movement. After the 2 to 4-minute task is completed, the robot provides a detailed report of the subject’s performance, comparing their behaviour to an age, sex, and hand-matched control population.

By following a suite of standardized protocols, a clinical researcher can assess the neurological impairments of a subject in a Kinarm Lab in just 30 to 60 minutes, saving days of clinic time. Invented by Queen’s professor Stephen Scott in 1999 and constantly improved ever since, Kinarm’s cutting-edge robotic technology is used by clinical researchers around the world to study stroke, TBI, ALS, Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, and a host of other conditions. Kinarm Labs are transforming neurological assessment and enabling new treatments for brain injury and disease.

Kings Distributed Systems

Founded in 2017, Kings Distributed Systems (KDS) has developed a web-based solution, based on ubiquitous web standards, that can borrow a computer’s idle computing capacity and make it part of a distributed computing system. The result is the scale of computing power achievable by the cloud, but available at a fraction of the cost. Further, because the data need not be sent to the cloud, it remains secure and on-location – a big plus for hospitals and other institutions concerned about data privacy.

Closely associated with Queen’s University, KDS has recently embarked on a new collaboration with Queen’s School of Computing aimed at developing the next stage of distributed systems: mobile edge computing. In such a system, mobile devices, such as autonomous vehicles, drones, tablets, smart phones, and so on, can be joined on the fly into a distributed system. In a “smart” manufacturing plant, for example, all the microprocessors found in sensors, robotic components, and computer systems can be harnessed to form distributed computing clusters, not only collecting sensor data but processing it as well, providing real-time analysis.

Among the applications developed using their solution, KDS has recently been working with a number of partners, including Queen’s, to develop Project Looking Glass. Drawing on distributed computing power, the project gives policy makers a predictive analytics tool that quantifies public health and economic impacts due to policy. Already in use to determine responses to the COVID-19 crisis, its use can be extended to other public health issues and beyond.

Limestone Analytics

How do you determine the economic and social effects of something unprecedented like COVID-19?

Thanks to the work of Kingston’s Limestone Analytics and its STUDIO (short-term dynamic input output) model, governments can get a better idea of the fallout from the pandemic and from similar major economic shocks.

Founded in 2016, Limestone Analytics is widely recognized for helping its clients identify, design, finance, monitor, and evaluate programs and policies in health and nutrition, education, infrastructure, environmental conservation, and a bevy of other areas. The firm and its principals have successfully completed assignments for governments and large NGOs around the world. Closely connected to the Economics Department at Queen’s (reflecting its desire to combine academic rigour with practical policy making), over the years Limestone Analytics has also received support from Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation.

Developed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Limestone Analytics’ STUDIO model adopts economic methods to allow governments to explore the impact of COVID-19 on different regions and economic sectors, balance health against economic outcomes, and explore different policy scenarios for dealing with them. Used by the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council, the government of Alberta, and others, STUDIO will have applications far beyond the current pandemic, allowing governments in Canada and internationally to assess the effect of any sudden shock, good or bad, to a regional economy.

Mesh AI

“Just showing up is half the battle.” A cliché perhaps, but in the time of COVID-19, it captures a hard truth. Making sure there are enough health-care workers when they are needed to administer the vaccine is a tough scheduling problem; this is especially true in the face of significant uncertainty in terms of supply and demand as well as provider availability.

Understanding that, Kingston-based MESH Scheduling Inc., a global healthcare software provider founded by Queen’s professor Shahram Sean Yousefi, has recently made access to its advanced provider scheduling and resource allocation platform, Mesh AI, free of charge for COVID-19 immunization teams. Because fighting COVID-19 puts such a strain on health-care resources and personnel, Mesh AI was also made available free of charge to all health units in need during the earlier days of the pandemic.

Mesh AI is an intelligent, highly flexible, easy-to-use, and quick-to-launch, cloud-based platform built for health-care teams in hospitals, clinics, public health units, and physician groups. Providers input their availability and even shift preferences to help reduce burnout and stress. Then with a single click, schedulers and leaders can engage Mesh AI’s state-of-the-art optimization engine to find fair and efficient shift distributions. Mesh AI improves efficiency, cost, provider satisfaction, access to care, and patient outcomes. Its inherent flexibility to manage surge and change is a key factor in its efficacy in the battle against COVID-19.

Novari Health

The folks at Novari Health like to say that they were fighting COVID-19 long before the pandemic hit – they just didn’t know it.

Novari develops software to help patients negotiate their way through the heath-care system. Research into the subject has shown that transitions of care between providers and care settings can be dangerous for patients – records can be lost, appointments missed and so on. Novari’s Access to Care Platform uses modern web and cloud technology to mitigate these risks while improving workflows for physicians and administrators. The platform includes a series of integrated modules and is the only system available that electronically manages the complete continuum of care from start to finish. In a field, health-care, that is still largely dominated by paper-based record keeping, its effects on patient outcomes and health provider efficiency are frankly revolutionary.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Novari’s software has also proved invaluable in dealing with the pandemic. Novari’s surgical wait list and patient prioritization technology has helped improve surgical wait times made worse by the pandemic. Their referral management and workflow technology track and manage patients needing COVID testing. The firm’s virtual care technology now allows patients to see physicians inside a risk-free, virtual walk-in clinic.

Originally created at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre as an in-house solution to patient scheduling, Novari Health’s software is used worldwide today and the firm has offices in Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand.

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