Finding innovative ways to reduce burnout for health-care providers was the theme at the Communitech Fast Track Health Showcase on Feb. 27, 2024. Six of Canada’s leading technology companies were selected from over 40 submissions to pitch their solutions for the chance to partner with health-care organizations across Canada.

The Fast Track Health team worked with health-care professionals at Grand River Hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospital and Cambridge Memorial Hospital, as well as academic experts to identify three challenges:

  • Building tools to support the efficiency of recruiting and onboarding.
  • Developing an integrated management system to support automation of patient records, referrals and documentation.
  • Creating a monitoring system that provides ease of access to inventory and equipment.

Dr. Payal Agarwal, Integrated Chief Information and Innovation Officer at Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital, opened the showcase with startling statistics about how burnout affects physicians across Canada. 

Dr. Agarwal said that a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report found that three in four physicians had workloads impacting patient care. The same report shared that physicians spent 18.5 million hours yearly on unnecessary administrative work, equal to 55.6 million patient visits. According to Dr. Agarwal, the most significant driver of burnout is “pyjama time,” which is after-hours work required to catch up on data entry in an electronic medical records (EMR) system.

“Burnout is a complex topic, and we need to start collectively addressing and solving it together,” Dr. Agarwal said. “In almost every way, tech makes our lives easier. But in healthcare, technology often makes it harder to care for our patients. We have to do better with technology.”

These six companies were selected to pitch their solutions at the showcase:

  • ConsidraCare develops remote health-care resource management and care delivery for seniors, especially in remote areas and emerging markets. Its platform utilizes advanced ATS, digital interviewing and AI to streamline staff management across diverse care environments spanning homes, retirement facilities and hospitals.
  • Markitech is an AI-focused company specializing in health care and technology. Its mission is to enhance the physician-patient connection and improve health-care delivery through advanced technological solutions focusing on aging-in-place solutions.
  • Mutuo Health Solutions helps tackle doctor burnout with AutoScribe. This EMR-integrated platform parses patient-doctor dialogue to generate highly accurate medical notes and patient reminder handouts customized to individual doctor’s writing styles.
  • MUUTAA Inc. uses advanced AI, simulation and deep learning to help leaders in the health-care supply chain make informed decisions. MUUTAA’s offering can be deployed, supervised, maintained and supported remotely.
  • QReserve simplifies and automates the complex workflows of how resources — equipment, people, spaces, services — are accessed, managed and transacted. The company specializes in enterprise-grade scheduling and workflow management solutions for hospitals, universities, life science companies and private sector organizations.
  • Tali AI is a voice-enabled AI assistant that uses advanced natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to help physicians save time and frustration, helping them see more patients and have more face time during visits.

The potential for AI to improve patient outcomes and reduce burnout for physicians was a common thread through each pitch to the audience at the Communitech Hub and those watching the live stream across Canada.

Graeme Brown, Chief Growth Officer at QReserve, said that, like in many industries, health-care providers have been slow to adopt new technologies.

“The type of systems that teams use are relatively rudimentary. They're using Excel. They're using Google calendars. Some people are printing off paper-based calendar stickers. Others aren’t doing anything. That doesn’t work anymore,” said Brown. “I think the rise of AI for people who are managing processes, it's provided them with a little extra bravery to challenge the status quo.”

Mahshid Yassaei, CEO of Tali AI, founded the company in 2020 to help reduce clinician burnout. According to Yassaei, over 60 per cent of clinicians at the time reported burnout. Yassaei added that clinicians also reported spending more than an hour daily of “pyjama time” entering data into their EMR systems.

“We started Tali with a vision of building an AI system that goes on top of your chart and really takes over all of the administration, so the physician can be fully present and have full eye contact with the patient,” Yassaei said. “So, in addition to the timesaving efficiency that clinicians get from Tali, it also offers accuracy and compliance and improves the relationship between the physician and their patients.”

After the presentations, attendees and representatives from the selected companies were invited to network and find potential partnership opportunities. Dr. Agarwal said the Fast Track Health program is an excellent partnership between Communitech and the region’s three hospitals.

“This program is exciting because it allows us as hospitals to very quickly surface the problems that matter to our clinicians and our staff every day as they provide care, and very quickly connect in with our wonderful innovation ecosystem here in the region and find the solutions that are going to help us to deliver better care every day for our patients,” said Dr. Agarwal.