Three new initiatives looking to change Canadian health care


It’s probably safe to say that the coronavirus, which most people outside the medical community hadn’t even heard about at this time last year, has shed a lot of new light on our understanding of health, wellness and medical research. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America in March, it’s become omnipresent in just about every public media outlet. You can’t turn on the television or open a news website without being exposed to the latest headlines and news about it.

As a result, we now know much more about how a virus works, what a pandemic is and how researchers continue to work diligently to develop a vaccine. If the pandemic has accomplished one positive thing, it’s that it has created a new awareness of the need for proactive health measures.

The fact is, though, that medical research is always taking place in an effort to improve prevention, treatment and care. From major university hospitals to independent labs and companies, countless people are at work every day in search of the next new breakthrough. And many will discover them, benefiting society at large in the process.

A collaborative partnership to promote innovation:

Recently, the Health and Technology District, a Surrey, B.C.-based ecosystem of innovators and entrepreneurs working with a diverse variety of scientists, clinicians and health-care providers, announced a partnership with Halo Health, a not-for-profit angel network of entrepreneurial medical doctors, physicians, healthcare graduates and medical students comprising Canada’s first angel network for healthcare, to pursue a new collaboration to expand and support health-tech innovations and entrepreneurs.

It’s expected that the partnership will enable both groups to grow and inspire health innovation activities and initiatives while also addressing challenges associated with establishing a national, like-minded entrepreneurial network across communities of medicine.

“We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with forward-thinking, leading edge organizations to expand our growing network of health-tech innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Rowena Rizzotti, vice president of healthcare and innovations at the Health and Technology District.

“Partnering with Halo Health will empower both organizations to strengthen and expand innovative initiatives and health technologies, and to expand our collective impact across Canada and strengthen Canada’s overall performance in the health innovation domain.”

Researching the use of psychedelic drugs in mental health treatment:

Meanwhile, in Toronto, the alternative wellness industry has been making headlines. George Scorsis, who spent several years as an executive at the top energy drink company in Canada, left that industry and joined WeedMD, as executive chairman. WeedMD, a Canadian company, produces and distributes medical and adult recreational cannabis, and has been experiencing dramatic growth as an increasing number of people continue to turn to cannabis for its analgesic properties.

In addition, in recent months, George Scorsis was named to the executive board at AWAKN Life Sciences Inc, also in Toronto. The new company seeks to incorporate the use of psychedelic pharmacology into mental health treatment in the UK and European Union. Just a few weeks ago AWAKN announced that it had launched a Commercial Clinical Research Division that is now scheduling and managing clinical trials across Europe and North America to determine the efficacy of psychedelics as a component of treatment for a variety of mental health issues.

Making resident-pharmacist interaction more efficient for seniors:

It should be noted that innovation in the healthcare industry isn’t just about new partnerships and treatments. It also takes place when companies find new, better ways of doing things.

For example, residents in Alberta long-term care facilities can now interact remotely with their pharmacists, thanks to a new pilot project that uses virtual care to improve connectivity between patients and healthcare providers.

Known as the CareRx Alberta Virtual Care Project, a collaboration involving CareRx Corporation, a Canadian specialty pharmacy care provider; pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd; and Health City, a Canadian not-for-profit Corporation that works with clinicians, innovators, philanthropic organizations, and companies to develop new pathways of care that can drive better health outcomes and economic development in the health sector.

By using CloudMD’s virtual health platform, Livecare, CareRx’s pharmacists in Alberta can now provide care to residents, while also assessing the impact that virtual care can have on chronic disease management. From a disease standpoint, the program focuses particularly on diabetes, which is prevalent in the long-term care setting. The aim of the CareRx Alberta Virtual Care Project is to optimize treatment through use of a screening tool to assess cardiovascular risk reduction and customize care for each resident.

According to Reg Joseph, CEO at Health City, “Providing an integrated virtual care option for long-term care residents will increase access to care for a vulnerable population, reducing their risk of exposure and creating a connected care community for patients managing chronic conditions.” He added that, “Increased access to care results in early intervention, better health outcomes for residents, and lower overall cost to the health system.”