Both tech startups and the telecom giant Telus are united in the belief that B.C.’s emerging health-tech sector is ripe for the taking.
Canadians are willing to explore these avenues further, as long as they have assurances their medical information is secure. A 2013 study from PwC found 67% of Canadians would be open to using virtual monitoring – the practice of delivering health care remotely using technology – if those services were available.
“There are few industries that haven’t digitized their communication with the people they serve, other than those in the health care profession,” the study said.
Vancouver-based Ayogo Health Inc., on the other hand, is building links between health care and one of the first industries to digitize in the 1970s: gaming.
The startup develops games for patients with chronic conditions by tapping into what CEO Michael Fergusson calls their “underlying human psychology.”
For example, Ayogo partnered with the Diabetes Hands Foundation to create a Facebook-based game that would motivate people to make healthier lifestyle choices. Players could take on game missions and be rewarded for real-life decisions such as eating a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast.
“This is not about just taking points and badges and dressing up other systems … to trick people into thinking they’re having fun,” Fergusson said. “Ultimately this is about empowering individual people.”