Leading Canadian health networks AGE-WELL and MEDTEQ+ combine forces to launch envisAGE, a large scale pan-Canadian AgeTech network initiative
It is no secret that Canada’s population is aging at a rapid pace, as are the populations of most developed countries. It is estimated that by 2035, Canada will be what is referred to as a ‘super-aged’ country, that is a country where more than 25% of the population is over the age 65. If we are to judge from media reporting on the subject the Canadian health care system now appears to be in a continuous state of crisis, lacking capacity and resources – particularly human resources – and operating with significant backlogs in procedures and long waiting periods.
Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the weaknesses existing in the system and created many new ones. In some cases it drove parts of the system as well as its overburdened health care services delivery practitioners to the breaking point. It is clear that if the Canadian healthcare system is to meet the evolving needs of our aging population and maintain a high level of quality in services delivery we will need to think in innovative new ways and utilize all the tools at our disposal – this includes new and evolving digital health and medical technology solutions developed specifically to address this aging population challenge.
MEDTEQ+ and AGE-WELL combine their expertise to launch envisAGE
It is for these reasons that MEDTEQ+ and AGE-WELL – leading Canadian health networks in the fields of health technology and the aging innovation ecosystem – have combined forces and capabilities to officially launch the envisAGE AgeTech network on January 25, 2023. envisAGE is a large scale pan-Canadian initiative whose mission is to catalyze Canada’s AgeTech ecosystem by supporting innovators to grow and scale their enterprises and deliver technology solutions that help older Canadians maintain a better quality of life, longer. The federal government is investing $47 million through its Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to support the envisAGE network.
envisAGE will provide resources and supports to help companies validate and demonstrate their technologies. Through envisAGE, enterprises will be able to collaborate closely with communities, retirement homes, long-term care homes and private homes, where they can demonstrate and implement their products while creating a pathway to scaling their venture.
In order to provide the most relevant and inclusive solutions for improving seniors’ quality of life, envisAGE is advancing an ecosystem that brings together digital health startups, SMEs, academic partners, community organizations, public and private health care organizations, innovative living environments, and investors. The program seeks to participate in more than 100 new innovative projects over 5 years across Canada.
So what exactly is Age Tech?
Age Tech or Aging Technology refers to the use of technology to address the needs and challenges faced by seniors, aging populations and their caregivers. This can include the development of new products, services and practices to improve the quality of life of older adults, as well as the use of technology to support healthcare, social connections, and other aspects of aging. They affect everything from housing and health care to autonomy, mobility, mental health, well-being, financial health, communication, and maintaining social connection.
Some examples of AgeTech include wearable medical devices that allow for the remote patient monitoring of key health and fitness metrics, such as cardiac metrics including blood pressure and heart rate or overall activity in the form of steps taken, assistive technologies that help with mobility and communication, and telehealth and telemedicine platforms that enable remote consultations with healthcare providers.
Age Tech can also include home automation and smart home devices that help older adults maintain independence and stay safe in their homes, by for example tracking their physical movement and being able to ascertain whether an individual has fallen or experienced an accident.
As the global population continues to age, the demand for age tech is likely to grow significantly, and it represents an important area of innovation and investment for technology companies, entrepreneurs, and healthcare providers.
AgeTech has the potential to significantly impact the quality of life for aging Canadians
At BML Technology we’re optimistic on the promise of AgeTech to significantly enhance the quality of life and aging experience of Canadian seniors. As described, AgeTech can touch all aspects of an individual’s life – preventing disease, promoting health, fitness and activity, managing medical conditions, enhancing community, brain health, and prescription compliance, crisis management and much more – so that even small improvements in any, or all of these areas, can lead to tangible benefits in the aggregate. A successful integration of Age Technologies into the healthcare system and the lives of older Canadians can lead to senior citizens who are healthier, happier and more connected.
We also have real world evidence that seniors are open to and positively inclined to adopt these technologies. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic the adoption of telehealth solutions exploded by a factor of 38X, primarily by older at risk individuals, and they were generally satisfied with the experience (1). Yes, as the COVID pandemic wanes these rates have decreased but many changes in the process of healthcare delivery have become permanent as they are driven not only by patients seeking access and convenience but also by healthcare systems seeking to increase capacity while reducing costs.
In Canada 82% of citizens over the age of 65 believe that technological advances can help them stay at home longer. And 70% would be willing to pay out-of-pocket for technology that allows them to stay in their home longer, which speaks to the economic viability of AgeTech companies developing solutions to serve this market and the motivation of Canadian seniors to adopt them.
There is also a strong fit between the needs of the Canadian healthcare system to manage the growing healthcare requirements of an aging population while keeping costs in check, with the potential benefits provided by AgeTech, which include detailed personal health information, remote healthcare delivery, improved patient outcomes, reduced system costs, high patient satisfaction rates and others.
We will be following the evolution of envisAge closely and hope that they will succeed in their mission of catalyzing AgeTech solutions for Canadians at a time when they are needed with the utmost urgency.
MEDTEQ+’s mission is, through collaborative, industry led projects, to accelerate innovation and position, on a global scale, products and services developed by the Canadian medical technologies industry, thereby generating major economic impacts while improving healthcare systems for the ultimate benefit of patients in Canada and around the world.
AGE-WELL NCE (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life NCE Inc.) is Canada’s technology and aging network. AGE-WELL is dedicated to the creation of technologies and services that benefit older adults and caregivers. Our aim is to help older Canadians maintain their independence, health and quality of life through technologies and services that increase their safety and security, support their independent living, and enhance their social participation.
About BML Technology
BML Technology understands digital health. At the intersection of medical technology, clinical research and patient-centric healthcare BML drives the mainstream adoption of digital technology in healthcare. Offering a full range of services to the digital health ecosystem BML manages the complex stakeholder interactions necessary to get digital health solutions to market and gain adoption.