Revolutionizing Hospital Care With Artificial Intelligence: Dr. Muhammad Mamdani

Revolutionizing Hospital Care With Artificial Intelligence: Dr. Muhammad Mamdani

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP | December 6, 2019

 

“There are products that can have a real impact but then whether the product has an impact on the masses and brings revenue are important considerations. Plugs can be pulled if the impact and returns aren’t strong,” Dr. Muhammad Mamdani had said at the TR Talk we hosted in the first week of December 2019. Being a strong advocate of impactful innovation, he has set out to revolutionize hospital care with artificial intelligence.

Mamdani who is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine and the founding director of the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Care Analytics Research and Training (LKS-CHART), that the wait times at hospitals need to be reduced for improving healthcare. He believes that artificial intelligence can help in addressing this problem.

According to him, the first step is to make transformative changes in healthcare, it is essential to break silos. His faith is in people, “a lot of people forget that your initial resource is not money, it’s people. Collaborations are the key to research.” Mamdani has been collaborating with engineers, statisticians, clinicians, computer scientists and administrators at St. Michael’s Hospital to use innovations in data analytics to advance patient care.

He encourages the U of T Medicine community to continue to push further with collaboration among different departments and faculties. In a recent article published by the University of Toronto – the Faculty of Medicine elucidates his research and attempts in the advancement of patient care in terms of wait times. You can read more about this here.

University Of Toronto Rises Again, Ranked Number One In Graduate Employability

University Of Toronto Rises Again, Ranked Number One In Graduate Employability

University Of Toronto Rises Again, Ranked Number One In Graduate Employability

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP |November 27, 2019

U of T ranked 15th globally when it comes to producing work-ready graduates, according to the latest employability rankings by Times Higher Education and 1st in North America. 

 

When you think of UofT, you would think of old stone buildings and new glass ones surrounded by a campus that supports the innovations and ideas of over 560,000 graduates. However, UofT’s penchant for excellence and it’s constantly expanding educational programs has led its consistent rise in rankings. “Employers in Canada and beyond recognize the value of a University of Toronto education,” said U of T President Meric Gertler.

UofT has been in the world ranks for decades now but this year the university excelled even further, U of T was ranked the number one university in Canada and the top public institution in North America for producing work-ready graduates, according to the recently released Global University Employability Ranking 2019. Recruiters at the top companies surveyed by Times Higher Education say the University of Toronto graduates are among the best equipped in the world to join the workforce. The same ranking placed U of T 15th overall among 250 universities in 41 countries, and eighth among the world’s public universities.

“The university’s faculty and staff work tirelessly to equip students with the skills and experience they need to succeed in an ever-changing and competitive global job market,” Meric Gertler added.

Read More: U of T News article published on November 25th, 2019 gives a more holistic breakdown of these rankings and can be found, here.

 

 

Lunch ‘N Learn with SE Health’s Futures Team

Lunch ‘N Learn with SE Health’s Futures Team

Lunch ‘N Learn with SE Health’s Futures Team

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP | November 27, 2019 

SE Health’s mission is to spread hope and happiness and they are reconceptualizing aging to realize their endeavor.

Photo – Lunch ‘N Learn with SE Futures: Paolo Korre, Director of Service Design, a  member of the SE Futures Team, visited the TRP to discuss co-creating a future with technologies and services that can benefit older adults and caregivers.

 

The way we age and die in the future will be nothing like what it has been for the past century or more. The mindsets and business models of the past no longer serve this space. SE Futures was established for the new era of health innovation – a future where the “home-spital” is where health will be created, managed, and restored, people and their families will be more empowered, and intelligence will support decisions.

SE Futures is protecting and creating this future of health, focused on the older adult population in Canada. In their belief that healthcare, aging, and dying can be different Paolo Korre mentioned that – “We approach healthcare innovations with a lot of openness.” Their core aim is to bring about instrumental changes by constantly experimenting with their approach. “We try to bring solutions and opportunities for not just incremental changes but disruptive solutions to help foster a difference.”

With their vision to co-creating a future where the Canadian Age with Agency, Dignity, Health and Vitality, their foremost idea is reframing aging. They do not refer to seniors as individuals who no longer have any value, they instead strongly believe that seniors not only have value to add to our society as a whole but also deserve to receive value from our society in return. “Living alone is hard, but dying alone is even harder,” Paolo explained emphatically explaining their project that reimagines death and the experience of dying.

Talking about innovation and SE’s framework, Paolo shared his belief about why most innovation doesn’t work. “Innovation shuts down not because the ideas are bad but because we tend to lose sight of what we are trying to do, we stop experimenting, and we stop learning.” Organizations tend to lose sight of humans and user-experience when focussing on operating metrics. For SE, the importance of keeping it user-centred is the key to their successful endeavours. “It is essential to make a viable design but it is equally essential to believe in the process.”

Perspective, he says is the most important aspect to be mindful of in healthcare innovation. Healthcare professionals, who are often trained in the scientific method, do not check their own beliefs and ideas for bias. We must keep in mind our biases when trying to create great solutions and ideas.

Another important aspect of innovation is embracing the constraints in the problems we are trying to solve. Paolo pointed out how the adage “think outside the box” is problematic: innovation will provide a better understanding of the problem and hence lead to a more viable solution. “Don’t think outside the box, we need to think about the box. Are the walls and constraints of the box fixed, or can we change the constraints?  It is important to understand the box because we design and make within a context, which has constraints.”

This session ended with an intriguing discussion and culminated in a resounding thought – Agility is essential, but planning for iterations and re-iterations for delivering a pathbreaking innovation is equally essential.

 

TR Talks – Innovation Heralders Shed Light On The Opportunities And Challenges In Funding Translation

TR Talks – Innovation Heralders Shed Light On The Opportunities And Challenges In Funding Translation

TR Talks – Innovation Heralders Shed Light On The Opportunities And Challenges In Funding Translation 

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP | November 18, 2019

Simply having a pathbreaking innovation doesn’t suffice, an entrepreneurial knack is the cornerstone of translational research.  

Our previous TR Talk (add link) discussed the barriers to innovation and a recurring theme was the difficulty in funding translation. In our most recent talk, our panelists spoke candidly about their take on funding in translational sciences. As is customary at the TR series, we hosted a diverse group of driven researchers, clinicians, health practitioners, and students. Facilitated by the Translational Research Program, the “Funding Translation” TR Talk featured a panel discussion followed by a Q & A round and ended with an engaging networking opportunity. 

The panelists for the talk were David Naylor (Professor of Medicine and President Emeritus at the University of Toronto), Milos Popovic (Institute director of KITE, UHN), and Steve Mann (Chief Scientist at Wearable Computing and Professor at UofT’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering). The panel was led by Salvatore Spadafora (Vice Dean of Post-MD Education) and the discussion offered diverse perspectives on the issues faced in funding translation. They began the discussion by noting that funding is difficult in all spheres of innovation, but it is especially arduous in the healthcare setting.  

“Failure is an interesting aspect of our circles. How do we tell people that it is okay to fail?” Salvatore SpadaforaVice Dean of Post-MD Education started the discussion by posing one of the most pressing questions in the field of translation.  He then went on to talk about how the failure to procure funding leads Canadian IP and talent across the border or to other countries to sell their innovations. “We should create a procurement – innovation-friendly strategy of procurement to keep our talent where it belongs.”   

David Naylor, Professor of Medicine and President Emeritus at the University of Toronto concurred with Salvatore. He believes that it is the need of the hour for our funding policies to change to favour Canadian innovation. He believes – “TR can be an orphan in terms of the funding system.” David said that it was unfortunate that brilliant talent seeks other avenues. As an advocate in translational innovation, he tries his best to help translational researchers find appropriate funding.  

“Ideas are a dime a dozen, dead wrong, ideas are in negative value until you make something happen and show investors that your idea is actually viable.” Steve Mann, Chief Scientist at Wearable Computing and Professor at UofT’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is of the opinion that your belief in your innovation and its application is the decider of whether your innovation will make it to the mainstream or not. He went on to say that entrepreneurial skills clubbed with passion will help in the translation of your innovation into the market. “Things outside the health bureaucracy move faster than in other fields. It’s a challenge but Toronto is a growing epicentre for translational funding.”  

Milos Popovic (Institute director of KITE, UHN) argued that funding is essential but more important than funding is who that funding is coming from. “You don’t only need funding; you need funding from someone who understands what you do and its value.” He is of the opinion that if the sponsor doesn’t know the true value of your innovation, there will be a lot of friction that will make the translation of the project obstacle prone. Finding the right source of funding is a slow process but a fruitful one in the longer run. “Commercialization of innovation needs focus, patience, and perseverance.”  

The panelists brought distinct views from different frontlines of innovation, from healthcare to engineering. Having highlighted the obstacles they were faced with, they doled out advice to aid in overcoming roadblocks to translation. Each of them led by example and assured that they would be delighted to guide TRP students in the right direction for the success of their future innovations.  

This TR Talk was one of a series of sessions hosted by the Translational Research Program in collaboration with the Health Innovation Hub (H2i). These Talks are open to the public and are geared towards interprofessional clinicians, researchers, and trainees to provoke discussion and community building. To learn more about the future TR Talks, please visit our website 

TR Talks – Experts Discuss The Challenges And Barriers To Innovations In Healthcare

TR Talks – Experts Discuss The Challenges And Barriers To Innovations In Healthcare

TR Talks – Experts Discuss The Challenges And Barriers To Innovations In Healthcare

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP | November 27, 2019 

 

Succeeding in health innovation requires both courage and relentlessness, in the absence of either it is impossible to surpass the barriers to innovation. 

You have an innovative idea and you want to turn it into reality. After meticulous planning and perfecting of this innovation, you introduce this brilliant project to the world. What happens then? That’s when the challenges and barriers crop up. Roadblocks to innovation can come up when you least expect them. When faced with these obstacles, it is essential for you to realize that it is these issues that will help make you, your team, and your innovation stronger.   

Our TR Talks event series draws interdisciplinary audiences from different walks of innovation. We recently hosted a diverse group of researchers, clinicians, health practitioners, and students. Facilitated by the Translational Research Program, the “Barriers to Innovation” TR Talk featured a panel discussion, followed by a Q & A round and ended with an engaging networking opportunity 

The panelists for the evening were Bob Bell (surgeon, healthcare advocate), Garth Smith (Director of Industry Relations at OBI), Sandy Schwenger (CEO at m-Health solutions and PatientCare Solutions), and Christopher Yip (Dean – Applied Science and Engineering, UofT). The panel was led by Vivek Goel (Vice President – Research, Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives) and the discussion offered diverse perspectives on the barriers in translating innovations to humans and touched upon the opportunities of translational research.   

 

“We have to be disruptive in health care, because if we aren’t being disruptive then we won’t go forward,” said Sandy Schwenger, CEO at m-Health solutions and PatientCare Solutions. Schwenger, who has a background in healthcare and strategic advice, brought perspectives from the frontlines of patient care and policy while outlining some of the challenges that surround translating research to inform treatment options.   

“There’s not a stone I’ve left unturned, but I still don’t know who to go to for adopting a new innovation.” Sandy believes that it is essential to try every avenue when adopting novel knowledge into the realm of healthcare. “We have to innovate and not go backward.”  

Dr. Bob Bell, a former surgeon and a current advocate for universal, sustainable and excellent care, believes that “innovation isn’t magic, there is a process.” Canadian innovation finds global reception while they face barriers in breaking into the Canadian market. Bob is a firm believer in using some of the taxpayer money to bring innovations to the Canadian market will not only help improve healthcare but also provide an incentive for our talent to remain in Canada. He has recently written a novel “HIP”, a medical thriller novel with all proceeds helping to fund cancer research at Princess Margret Cancer Research Centre 

“In a great world you wouldn’t have to go to another country to hear about innovations in your own country,” said Garth Smith, Director of Industry Relations at OBI, when discussing that a lot of Canadian innovations find buyers outside of Canada. He hopes that in the future, our healthcare and funding systems would change for the better to retain Canadian innovations for the betterment of our country.  

“Economic modeling in healthcare is very hard. Healthcare does have a sandbox to learn and fail, but it’s a very expensive sandbox.” Dr. Smith agrees that failure is an essential steppingstone to innovation, but we do not have enough funding to fail often. He is of the opinion that there is tremendous potential in the Canadian healthcare sector, all that remains is for this potential to be realized.  

Christopher Yip, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering at the UofT agreed with Garth that innovation requires leeway to fail. “At The Hatchery, we create opportunities and allow scope for failure, this is what led us to successfully launch the numerous start-ups that we have.” The Hatchery is a University of Toronto initiative to help budding talents realize their innovation’s worth. They create start-ups which give rise to sustainable solutions. 

Among all the barriers to innovation that were brought up at this session, the guest speakers highlighted the potential for innovations to make a considerable impact on patients and users of the health system. They also pointed to examples such as The Hatchery and accelerators that are meant to help health start-ups get up and running. For all the challenges and obstacles in the health landscape, there are supports to help overcome them.  

This TR Talk was one of a series of sessions hosted by the Translational Research Program in collaboration with the Health Innovation Hub (H2i). These Talks are open to the public and are geared towards interprofessional clinicians, researchers, and trainees to provoke discussion and community building. To learn more about the future TR Talks, please visit our website  

Lunch ‘N Learn with AGE-WELL

Lunch ‘N Learn with AGE-WELL

Lunch ‘N Learn with AGE-WELL

Zoya Retiwalla | TRP | November 20, 2019

 

The AGE-WELL Network strives to create real-world solutions that will make a meaningful impact on the lives of Canadian seniors and caregivers.  

 

Lunch ‘N Learn with AGE-WELLRight to left – Our faculty member Rich Foty introduces the AGE-WELL group, Dr. Samantha Sandassie (Education and Training Manager), Benett Axtell (AGE-WELL HQP, Ph.D. student – Computer Science UofT), and Chao Bian (AGE-WELL HQP, Ph.D. student – IBBME UofT).

Our second Lunch ‘N Learn session of this year welcomed an innovative group from AGE-WELL NCE. This interactive session had discussions ranging from research to knowledge mobilization and commercialization within the context of building Canada’s AgingTech sector. Funded by the Networks of Centres of Excellence program in 2015, AGE-WELL has funded over 120 research projects, supported over 700 students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as 35 start-up companies. In early 2018, AGE-WELL embarked upon a comprehensive review of the research and policy priorities relating to seniors across Canada. The team spoke about how these priorities were validated with research, government, non-profit and industry stakeholders, including older adults and caregivers. This review has resulted in the development of eight Challenge Areas upon which all future AGE-WELL research, development, and funding programs will be built. 

In order to uphold their vision – Canada’s leadership in technology and aging benefits the world’, AGE-WELL provides a platform to over 5000 engaged older adults and caregivers to have their voices heard. “Co-creation with older adults and caregivers fosters meaningful innovation,” Dr. Sandassie explained regarding the effective AGE-WELL framework. In addition to the development of new products, AGE-WELL’s innovation landscape includes both service delivery models and policy change in order to capture the range of solutions necessary to make an impact in the quality of life.  

“The risk of social isolation is higher in older adults,” Axtell mentioned while discussing her project. With her interest in digital storytelling, she was perfectly suited to take the lead in developing a novel technology called PhotoFlow. It’s a digital application that combines picture organization and oral reminiscence, providing a digital version of spreading out photos from old photo albums at the dinner table. “The hope is that PhotoFlow will decrease the social isolation experienced by some older adults.” 

Using machine learning algorithms and a human-centered approach to improve healthcare in the aging population, Chao Bian is revolutionizing functional assessment with artificial intelligence. He is the co-founder of nightingale.ai, which uses a phone camera and robust machine learning models specifically designed for assessing standardized functional assessment to aid in post-surgery rehabilitation. Their algorithm creates a personalized patient health journey through the progressive collection of aggregated data in order to provide an insightful and holistic patient assessment. 

AGE-WELL’s success depends on the active engagement and participation of the people who will actually use the technologies and services developed through their research. Seniors and caregivers, as well as trainees, researchers, and industry members who are interested in contributing to AGE-WELL activities are invited to learn more about joining the AGE-WELL community by emailing info@agewell-nce.ca.