Medical Hardware Innovation
Projects within this category aim to build a device or technology that can directly improve the quality of life for seniors. Projects within this category may focus on designing prosthetics for seniors with amputations, developing wearable devices to track Parkinson's disease, or creating a technology to monitor the health and alert status of seniors while they are driving. The objective is to provide the user with a direct benefit from the use of the device.
Medical Facility Improvement
Projects within this category aim to both identify gaps in Canada’s healthcare system and to improve current clinical workflows. Projects may focus on building tools that would allow for early diagnosis, streamlining medical data retrieval, or improving current medical practices (e.g. hand washing). The objective of each project is to find a way to enhance our current healthcare efficiency.
Medical Service Aggregation
Projects within this category aim to create accessible platforms that provide a compilation of services or resources for seniors and caregivers. Projects may focus on creating platforms for education (i.e., training modules for topics such as dementia care), disseminating healthcare information (e.g., diagnostic information gathered from health monitoring devices or active prescriptions), networking (e.g., ad forums for nutritionists, companionships, or nurses), or scheduling appointments with medical professionals based on which service they are seeking. The objective of each project is to facilitate a user-friendly platform to better inform and involve seniors with their healthcare.
Using interaction design to promote hand hygiene in long term care facilities
Courtney MacDonald & Ross Sweetzir
Healthcare Systems - Medical Facility Improvement
Ross Sweetzir, Dylan Fraser, Kathryn Simone, Annie Nguyen
Innovators who accept this challenge will join a collaboration between W21C and Cisco Canada on an initiative to encourage good hand hygiene practices in long term care facilities using technology and design. Interactive video display screens will be linked to a network of alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility so that a visual graphic is triggered every time a dispenser is used. The screen will also display how many times a dispenser has been used so far that day, as well as how the usage of dispensers in one location compares to the usage of dispensers in other locations. The code and hardware components will be designed to be low cost and open source so that this solution can be duplicated by any interested long-term care or health care facility in the future.
A miniaturized touch screen with highly sensitive pressure sensing
Dr. Taylor Chomiak & Dr. Tamas Fuzesi
Healthcare Devices - Medical Hardware Innovation
Aleksander Berezowski, Jian Liao, Muskaan Puri, Catherine Ko, Chandhini Ramu, Warren Leung Kam Tsang
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders afflicting the elderly, with immense societal and economic impacts. For instance, over the past generation, the global burden of PD has more than doubled, with the number of people diagnosed with PD reaching over 6 million . Moreover, in countries with aging populations where there is a high frequency of neurological disorders, demand exceeds the number of neurologists (particularly in rural areas) . This serves to increase wait times and hinder treatment. Thus, current approaches for the clinical management of PD emphasize the need for the development low-cost and scalable tools that could reduce wait times and support more accessible telehealth solutions for the clinical management of PD.
A simple strategy to address this need is with the use of digital tools. Digital tools represent a category of objective and quantifiable biobehavioral data that are collected via portable or wearable devices. When combined with computer-aided and machine-learning (ML)-enabled decision-support systems, these digital tools can be used for diagnostic support and/or track the progress of interventions administered by clinicians.
The goal of this challenge is to develop a miniaturized touch screen that can be placed on a wearable device with highly sensitive pressure sensing capabilities. The pressure readout combined with the x-y coordinates of the touchscreen can then be used for the objective assessment of simple digitized finger tapping tests with the potential to identify subtle changes in motor deficits and the longitudinal monitoring of motor complications that may not be captured with routine clinical rating scales.
 Dorsey, E.R. et al. Global, regional, and national burden of Parkinson’s disease, 1990–2016: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet Neurol. 2018, 17, 939–953.
 Burton, A. How do we fix the shortage of neurologists? Lancet Neurol. 2018, 17, 502–503.
Driver health monitoring and assistance to contact medical responders in emergencies
Healthcare Devices - Medical Hardware Innovation
Ruina Bao, Khoa Ngyuen, Gurmol Singh, Mirza Beg, Harveen Saini, Vidhy Patel
Human mobility is an indisputable feature of modernity. People spend a great deal of their time in cars daily. Unfortunately, each year approximately 1–1.24 million people are killed and 20–50 million people are injured on the roads around the world, according to reports of the World Health Organization. Based on past studies, “drivers with diabetes, epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, alcoholism and mental illness averaged twice as many crashes per 1,000,000 miles of driving”. Therefore, facilitating private cars with state-of-the-art health monitoring systems is promising.
The most common chronic conditions of adults 65+ are hypertension (58%), high cholesterol (47%), arthritis (31%), ischemic/coronary heart disease (29%), diabetes (27%), chronic kidney disease (18%), heart failure (14%), depression (14%), Alzheimer's disease and dementia (11%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (11%). The National Council on Aging states "eighty percent of adults 65 and older have at least one condition."
More than 3000 deaths occur each day worldwide due to the trauma that is caused by motor vehicle collisions. These collisions involve drivers that have visited a physician within the year. This is the most common cause of death, 7 of which occur in Canada and impacts the collective cost along with emergency services greatly, more than $100 million per day. Approximately 50% of related deaths occur within minutes of impact demonstrating the need for effective preventative strategies and measures within the car.
In the event the person is able to contact 911 (before or after an accident) using their mobile phone, the 911 dispatcher is unable to utilize land-based technologies to pull up their location on their computer terminal. Given this, it falls upon the caller to provide their location to the dispatcher. If the person is unable to communicate, the dispatcher is unable to route emergency responders to their location causing further delays in medical care response.
Therefore, our goal is to create a solution for an integrative platform to be used in automobiles to monitor health and alert status in drivers and respond appropriately to assist the driver in an emergency, specifically in adults over 65 years of age.
"Care My Way"
Alice Lam & Stephanie Chipeur
Healthcare Platforms - Medical Service Aggregation
Adriana Martinez, Annie Nguyen, Cecilia Xu, Hannah Zhao, Forest Park
Our project is an app that will reduce barriers for seniors with dementia-related conditions to live at home and enrol in Alberta Health Services’ Self-Managed Care Program. We approach healthy aging as a disability-inclusive concept. This means that aging itself is often disabling for those who live long enough. Further, healthy aging is not only for the able-bodied or able-minded. Rather, we believe people with disabilities, both acquired and congenital, ought to be able to enjoy healthy aging. Institutionalizing people with dementia-related conditions is often treated as inevitable. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness about the isolation and potential abuses that occur in these settings. Our app will help support individuals with dementia-related conditions to live in their homes and hire caregivers to make their lives at home as safe and free of stressors as possible.
Alberta's Self-Managed Care Program allows individuals and their families to select their own caregivers and pay for care with funds that they receive from the Alberta government. Among the many benefits of the program, the ones that would be of particular interest to individuals with dementia-related conditions include familiarity with the same caregiver(s) from day-to-day, flexibility as to the timing of shifts and the activities carried out during the shift, and ability to choose caregivers that are compatible with the individual and their families (language, personality, etc).
The app has three main functions: (1) Education - we would partner with the Alzheimer’s Society and Creative Aging Calgary to provide training modules for prospective caregivers that would essentially be “Caregiving for Dementia-Related Conditions 101”. The training would also include topics to support caregiver health, such as grieving and avoiding burn out. (2) Networking - the app would offer a discussion group section to facilitate peer support. It would also have a job posting section to help connect caregivers who have completed training to advertise services and for families to post ads seeking caregivers. (3) Technical support - this part of the app would support users with the paperwork that is necessary to enrol in the Self Managed Care Program. This includes assistance with time sheets, payroll, T4 preparation and employment contracts.
We also want our app to be accessible to a broad range of potential users. We would like to translate into 6 major languages (traditional Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Gujurati, Vietnamese and Tagalog) through partnership with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association’s language bank. We require funding and support not only to develop the app itself but also to provide honorariums to families that participate in focus groups, which will allow us to learn more about what they need from our app.
Smart digital surveillance for seniors and aging population living with disabilities
Dr. Selim Khan