The Champlain 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 Champlain LHIN is divided into sub-districts and North Grenville is in the Western Champlain are, the most western and rural sub-region, which has a population of approximately 140,000 people. Western and Eastern Champlain have the largest proportion of people over 65 years of age.
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 is one of 15 projects that 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.”
The Champlain LHIN’s IMPACTT 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 IMPACTT 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.