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Ubiquitous data, remote watching, patients as active participants in their own care… the world of healthcare is in a state of upheaval.

What will the hospital of tomorrow look like? What are the major innovations that will transform, for the better, the relationship between practitioners and patients, whether in terms of greater efficiency or greater acceptability of therapeutic protocols? The technologies of the future: how can they be detected, co-constructed and brought to life?

These questions are one of the raisons d’être of Montreal’s Institut TransMedTech (iTMT), an institution created in 2017 under the leadership of Professor Carl-Éric Aubin PhD. On the one hand, the iTMT’s mission is to develop and implement innovative medical technologies, thanks to the key players in its broad ecosystem, with the aim of meeting existing or emerging needs in the healthcare sector.

To achieve this, TransMedTech relies in particular on TKM’s expertise in technology transfer. Its analysis tools enable in-depth technical and economic feasibility and positioning studies to be carried out on projects that are candidates for maturation within the institute.

A look at the hospital of the future with Marie-Pierre Faure PhD, Director of Innovation & Living Lab at Institut TransMedTech, and Christophe Lecante, founding director of TKM.

Marie-Pierre Faure, could you tell us about TransMedTech’s approach and purpose?

Marie-Pierre Faure: Officially launched in 2017, the TransMedTech Institute is a transdisciplinary open collaboration initiative, bringing together entrepreneurs, researchers, healthcare professionals, experts, but also users, patients, or even industrialists, and students.

The institute aims to develop innovative medical technologies to meet the needs of the healthcare sector and train the next generation of medical technology professionals. TransMedTech was born of an initiative led by Polytechnique Montréal in collaboration with four other founding institutions: CHU Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, CHUM and the Jewish General Hospital of Montreal, as well as some thirty other partners.

Three other institutions joined in 2023: HEC Montréal, the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and the Montreal Heart Institute.

Following the user-centred, Living Lab approach of the Institut TransMedTech, the first step is to assess the current state of the art, validate the market segments and define the regulatory pathway to ensure that the solution proposed by the team led by the innovators is appropriate. To do this, we use tools developed by TKM.

To date, more than 140 collaborative projects have benefited from our support using the TransMedTech method, with almost $40 million invested.

What major trends are you seeing in the healthcare sector?

Marie-Pierre Faure: The big trend at the moment is the paradigm shift. The hospital of the future will increasingly incorporate the notion of the point of care, where care can be delivered more efficiently and directly where the patient is.

For the patient-citizen, this will mean more accessible, personalised and dedicated care and services.

Implementing the hospital of the future implies the emergence of new technologies, in particular digital health, with its many issues and challenges such as data sharing, interoperability, security and ethics.

It will be essential to take into account the diversity of the population and the environments served, as well as individual characteristics and disparities between communities. We will also need to consider the challenges of getting the various stakeholders to adopt these new technologies, particularly in terms of training, changing practices and adoption.

How does TKM view these issues ?

Christophe Lecante: Listening to Marie-Pierre Faure, I can’t help but think of work we did in 2017 on the ‘Maison Bienveillante’ concept with a Quebec construction manufacturing company. Its director wanted to increase his company’s capacity for innovation tenfold and propose innovative solutions for rethinking the living environment to serve its occupants.

People’s needs change over time, from time to time, for example with the arrival of a child, or in the event of an accident or convalescence, or even chronically as they age. As a result, the scope for innovation is very broad. It’s easy to get lost and, in the end, come back to solutions that are not very innovative.

TKM, by providing a comprehensive overview of this area, in terms of research, public policy, technologies and start-ups, has highlighted the immediate links with the world of healthcare and, in particular, with the hospital sector on issues such as the link between the patient and the medical profession, remote monitoring, overcrowding in emergency departments, monitoring chronic illnesses, etc.

It very quickly became apparent that this concept of a caring home partly echoed that of a caring hospital, designed and organised around its patients and citizens. This awareness, made possible by this ‘upstream monitoring’ work, enabled us to imagine very early on some very exciting schemes for collaboration and innovation that broke with the usual ways of thinking.

In other words, this intelligence enabled the company to think about its innovation ecosystem in an infinitely more open and effective way, to take a real step forward and very quickly gather expressions of interest, and then to initiate collaborations in record time.

Today, Institut TransMedTech uses our monitoring and analysis tools to carry out exactly this type of upstream analysis, to validate, de-risk and accelerate the innovation processes proposed by the practitioners and researchers who work in Montreal hospitals on a daily basis.

Will the hospital of the future be a caring hospital ?

CL: Yes, I think so and I hope so! The hospital of the future is a hospital centred on the patient, a citizen who becomes a partner in his or her own care and in research. It’s a hospital that opens up to the city and gives priority to innovation with a strong societal impact, with proven therapeutic added value, and that becomes an essential player in the field of inclusiveness.

It is this ambition that the Institut TransMedTech is pursuing and which it has translated into the heart of its support processes.

Is the technology mature enough to achieve this?
M-P F: Today, technology is no longer a problem. The challenge is to use technology to meet needs. We need to be able to integrate these new tools into a care pathway in a way that is seamless and secure for all the parties involved.

That’s what we’re trying to do at TransMedTech: we’re sometimes presented with incredible technologies that are difficult for users to adopt in their current state. That’s when we have to make a selection. Hence the idea of involving patient citizens as early as possible in the co-development of these innovations.

CL: That’s why the notion of Value Based Health Care – which covers the development of a health care system based on the demonstration of added value in the eyes of the patient – is crucial. We can imagine technologies that are marvellous from a technical and scientific point of view, but which could miss the ‘use’ dimension and turn out to be very problematic for the patient.

How do you ensure that a technology is well suited to the patient’s needs?

M-P F: For example, we are supporting a project to equip 300 patients in retirement homes with connected watches. The big difficulty is to avoid patients snatching up the watches. The project leaders are therefore looking into the possibility of using connected clothing instead, which is more affordable.

As this example shows, the objective is to clearly define the use, depending on the type of beneficiary. Between a paediatric patient – at home with his parents – a teenager wearing a restrictive corset for scoliosis, an adult in post-trauma rehabilitation equipped with virtual reality, or elderly people suffering from dementia and cared for by nurses… The reality and needs of patients are very different. It is not only therapeutic effectiveness, but also the ability of a treatment or device to be integrated as effectively as possible into the patient’s life that must take precedence in the approach. This integration has an impact on the effectiveness of medicine.

Ultimately, all these issues come down to the acceptability of technology…

M-P F: There are technological issues, of course, but not the only ones. There are challenges in terms of social transposition, changing cultures, scaling up, changing uses and adapting devices.

The whole point is to make the devices less invasive, less restrictive and easier for the patient, so that the medical device becomes part of the life of the patient and the practitioner.

 

Why isn’t the shared medical file a reality yet ?

CL: The shared medical file is one of the central tools that has been at the heart of debates for many years to enable and facilitate this cross-disciplinary approach.

The issues of data confidentiality, security, processing and use are complex and involve a large number of players, with major human, social and ethical implications.

Paradoxically, people have no problem wearing connected objects to play sport or to manage diaries, cars or even to own connected phones. We agree to give up part of our private lives if it is in our immediate interest to do so: monitor my performance or my training plan, share my diary with my teams, be more efficient when travelling in the city, etc.

But as soon as we get into the field of health, everything becomes legitimately more complex. There’s a real political issue here, and a real debate to be had about the risk/benefit balance of connected medical solutions and, above all, the use made of the data collected.

How is TransMedTech helping to move in the right direction ?

M-P F: In its development work, TransMedTech wants to invent the hospital of the future, a caring hospital in which the patient is a stakeholder. In partnership with TKM, TransMedTech’s role is to show the way forward, because we can detect very early on the pitfalls to be avoided in the innovation maturation process.

What is TKM’s contribution to TransMedTech’s innovation trajectory ?

CL: The tools offered by TKM enable the TransMedTech teams to carry out extensive monitoring on a global scale. This monitoring ensures that each project selected and supported by the Institute is truly relevant and innovative.

The literature review also ensures that there is added value to the project and checks that it can be exploited, removing any doubts about industrial property issues in particular, on a global scale.

 

Read also : Innovation, technologies, patents, competitors, standards… Find out how to master your environment with TKM
TransMedTech, in partnership with TKM, is a key player, both operationally and methodologically, in the service of research and innovation for more inclusive precision healthcare.

The collective intelligence approach, with its Living Lab approach, is a key factor in tackling the issue of translating invention into market deployment.

Would you like to find out more about TKM’s service s? Contact us now !

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