A Strong Solution for a Frail Condition

AN IMPACT STORY

XCO Tech LogoXCO is a digital health technology company that focuses on advancing physical and cognitive performance across the spectrum of health and aging. Headquartered in British Columbia, the XCO team has developed a portfolio of movement, cognitive and biometric assessment solutions to empower patients and their care teams with the ability to support more comprehensive patient assessments. 

The Problem

Frailty is a medical condition characterized by a reduced ability to recover physical, physiological or cognitive functions from events like illness, medical procedures and injury. In Canada there are over 1.6 million Canadians that are medically frail, with that number expected to reach 2.5 million over the next 10 years as our population ages and average life span increases. 

People living with an age-related chronic condition such as frailty are more vulnerable to health emergencies as a result of even the most minor trauma or illnesses such as the flu. Frailty is more common in older patients, often leading to a higher consumption of healthcare resources, admission to long-term care homes or hospitalization. Of the $220 billion spent on healthcare annually in Canada, 46% is spent on people over 65 years old. This will only increase as the proportion of Canadians aged 65 or older is projected to increase from 17.5% in 2019 to between 21.4% and 29.5% by 2068. 

Assessing frailty and providing an effective continuum of care remains a challenge, as no care setting in Canada currently treats this as standard clinical practice. There is no routine screening process, standardized risk assessment tools or reporting consistency implemented in either community settings, primary healthcare, nursing homes or emergency departments. As a result, this medical condition remains under-diagnosed, poorly documented and without a formalized data gathering process to identify best practices and understand how we can improve patient outcomes, reduce the burden on our healthcare resources and provide the right level of essential support that will help our seniors safely stay in their homes longer. 

 The HealthONE Solution 

To strengthen Canada’s seniors care strategy, XCO has partnered with the Ontario Brain Institute, the University of Victoria, Kinduct, iClinic, Indoc Research and Greenroom Research to develop the HealthONE system for frailty. HealthONE is the first end-to-end solution in Canada for predicting, assessing, monitoring, stabilizing and slowing frailty among our aging population. 

Developed as part of a Digital Supercluster project called Healthcare to Homecare, this system combines dynamic data from proprietary technology and cognition tests to give physicians and caregivers more data to assess a patient’s frailty status and progression. HealthONE can also integrate with care plan and EMR software, extensive care management software and patient engagement applications. This solution is being developed to help doctors improve quality of care from anywhere and empower Canadians with home-based tools that enable them to take charge of their health.

Tailoring geriatric health care – in the home or in the hospital  

The HealthONE solution makes it possible to offer a definitive treatment plan, remote monitoring and self-care programs for every frail and pre-frail patient in Canada. Currently being tested as a clinical support tool at Vancouver General Hospital, this system enables healthcare professionals to digitize patient assessments, cutting down the time it takes to test patients, while expanding patient testing to include data from movement, balance, cognitive-motor performance, vital signs, co-morbidities and lifestyle concerns. Over time, new AI algorithms will help these hospitals establish best practices around frailty by tracking variations in care, outcomes and healthcare resource utilization. The result is an effective, less costly continuum of care for our older adults – and self-care plans that will help them remain safely in their homes longer.   

Improving pre-surgical assessments and post-surgical outcomes 

Frailty is an important indicator of whether someone is strong enough to undergo surgery, and how they will recover. XCO is currently supporting a 200-patient study with a Canadian kidney transplant clinic to develop standardized frailty assessment protocols as part of their kidney transplant patient qualification process. The HealthOne solution is also being used to assess the recovery of kidney transplant patients 3-6 months after discharge. A future goal of the project is to allow patients to be assessed and remotely monitored without having to leave their home communities, removing a tremendous burden for patients living in northern and rural communities.

Measurable Results and What’s Next 

For the XCO led consortium, investment from the Digital Supercluster helped them coordinate product development amongst partners, broaden their innovation scope and accelerate market commercialization.

“Partnership with the Digital Technology Supercluster has allowed XCO to navigate the complexity of the healthcare market and to progress the commercialization of our digital technologies into a comprehensive solution to transform how doctors and physical therapists deliver precise and personalized care. As a consortium of Canadian SMEs, it would have been extremely difficult to have achieved these big objectives without the support of the Digital Technology Supercluster.”

– Scott McMillan, CEO of XCO

Refining the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of frailty is expected to improve the quality of patients’ lives, allowing seniors to live longer and healthier from their own homes. Next steps include validating HIPAA compliance, extending this comprehensive assessment to other age-related chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and long-COVID, and developing data and AI algorithms to create new tests and a standardized frailty risk scoring system.

Assessing and Monitoring Parkinson’s Disease

Another area of expansion for XCO is to provide largely unavailable assessments of other chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and COPD.

Measuring long-COVID 

COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems. XCO’s DASH health assessment analyzes movement and cognition of long-COVID patients through a series of well-known clinical tests. The company is also jointly developing the Virtual Care Patch, a clinical-grade, multi-sensor wearable that can collect and analyze critical health information related to vital signs such as temperature, erratic heartbeats and breathing problems. This chip contains a low power AI computing engine, enabling the use of powerful algorithms while overcoming the high costs and short battery life associated with current wearable technology.

Expanding to international markets 

The product visibility and validation XCO is getting from this project has also helped the company attract international partnership interest from companies in the US, Asia and European healthcare markets. More to come on that exciting announcement soon.

View the Project

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