New Technology Identifies Seniors at Risk of Falling

December 1, 2017

OTTAWA, December 1, 2017 - The Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), in partnership with GE Healthcare Canada, has launched a new screening tool to reduce the rate of falls among seniors. The project, supported by Ontario’s Health Technologies Fund, will also provide valuable data to assist healthcare teams in developing effective falls prevention strategies for the future.      

Falls are a leading cause of injury for older adults, resulting in a significant number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations. In fact, more than one in five seniors experience at least one fall each year. Eighty-five per cent of injury-related hospitalizations for seniors are due to falls, and falls account for roughly $55 million in health-related costs in the Champlain region every year.

The new screening tool, developed by GE Healthcare, is called the Quantitative Timed Up and Go (QTUG). Seniors who are screened with the tool wear sensors on their shins over clothing, and their movements are tracked and analyzed. Individuals are asked to get up from a chair, walk three metres, turn around, walk back to the chair and sit down. Scores are produced from the data, measuring a person’s frailty and risk of falling. The project targets independent seniors who aren’t usually screened for falls, identifying those at risk and advising them on strategies to increase their safety.      

This project is one of 15 that has received funding in the first round of Ontario’s $20-million Health Technologies Fund. The fund is administered by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) on behalf of the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS).

“The Health Technologies Fund is already having an impact in the health system because of the collaborations it has created between health service providers, health technology innovators and patients,” says William Charnetski, Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist. “We are finding new ways to solve our greatest challenges by harnessing the power of innovation to provide better care while creating jobs in Ontario.”

Representatives of OCHIS and OCE, the Champlain LHIN, and GE Healthcare Canada participated in an event today at the Eastern Ottawa Community Resource Centre, where recent provincial innovations were highlighted and the new screening tool showcased. Local seniors took part in a demonstration of the new technology.

The Champlain LHIN’s IMPACCT Centre, which drives innovation in home and community care, is leading the local falls screening project, visiting health provider sites and seniors’ social and wellness activities to offer screening opportunities. With its research partner, the University of Windsor, the IMPACCT Centre will analyze the data collected through the project. Ultimately, the goal of the initiative is to foster the development and implementation of new falls prevention programs that increase safety for seniors.

“Falls are a major reason for deteriorating health among seniors, leading to negative impacts such as hospitalizations and social isolation. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness among seniors and their families about the importance of preventing falls, and why we need innovative strategies, especially at a time when the population is aging,” says Champlain LHIN CEO Chantale LeClerc. “This project fits with the LHIN’s strategic priority of expanding enabling technologies. It also aligns with our vision of healthy people and healthy communities supported by a quality, accessible health system.”

Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, says, “These digital health projects demonstrate why investment through the Health Technologies Fund is so important. People are more comfortable than ever using digital technology in their everyday lives and they expect the same kind interaction of their health system. With these new tools, health care will become even faster and simpler for patients to use in their homes and communities”.

With a proven track record of delivering programs on behalf of the Ontario government, OCE was selected to deliver the Health Technologies Fund and assist in driving the development of made-in-Ontario healthcare technology while supporting economic growth, co-investing to commercialize innovation and fostering partnerships and collaboration in the health system.

“Healthcare is a priority sector in Ontario and globally, so it makes sense that OCE works with publicly-funded healthcare service providers, patients, academia and industry to find innovative ways to improve patient outcomes and experience by supporting the demonstration of health tech through the Health Technologies Fund,” says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and CEO.

For more information, please visit the Health Technologies Fund website.

Media Contact:
Andrew Robertson
Manager, Media Relations
t: 416.861.1092 x 1092

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.
OCE drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research, OCE invests in sectors such as advanced health, digital media and information communications, advanced manufacturing and materials, and cleantech including energy, environment and water. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). Funded by the Government of Ontario, the ONE is made up of regional and sector-focused organizations and helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs rapidly grow their company and create jobs.

About the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist:
The Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS) was created in September of 2015 to fulfill the recommendations made by the Ontario Health Innovation Council (OHIC) established by the Ontario government in 2013. The council submitted is report, The Catalyst, in December 2014.

OCHIS is a catalyst to help accelerate health technology commercialization efforts in Ontario. The purpose of the office is to drive collaboration across the health care system to accelerate the adoption and diffusion of new innovative health technologies and processes to:

OCHIS focuses on targeted priorities:

  • Optimize pathways to adoption and diffusion for innovative Ontario health technologies
  • Enable effective procurement of innovation by shifting the health care system to strategic, value-based procurement and removing barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises to participate.
  • Provide better care closer to home by supporting home and community care enabled by virtual, mobile and digital health technologies
  • Empower Ontarians through digital health by building a dynamic market of digital tools and supports to navigate and personalize their path to health and wellness
  • Enhance Indigenous peoples’ health by advancing opportunities for innovation to address health challenges in their communities.

To be world-leading, Ontario's health technology companies need to generate significant export activity. OCHIS supports efforts to champion them in global markets.

About the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN):

The Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is an Ontario Crown Agency that plans, funds, coordinates health services, and delivers home and community care services in the region. Specifically, the LHIN:

  • Has a mandate is to ensure health services are well-organized, appropriately funded, and meet the health needs of the 1.3 million residents who call this region home.
  • Works with and funds roughly 120 health service providers that offer about 240 health programs in hospitals, community support services, mental health and addiction service agencies, community health centres, and long-term care homes.
  • Delivers a wide range of home and community care services and resources to support 58,000+ patients each year at home, at school or in the community. Our patient-care coordination teams help develop care plans for people of all ages, focused on maintaining independence and dignity at home and in their community.