What if you or a loved one needed access to same-day healthcare? Imagine having an app where you could input your symptoms—in your own words—knowing that you can include all of the information you’re worried might be missed. Then moments later, you receive a real-time list of available care options and expected wait times for facilities near you.
This is the vision of Ron Galaev, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of EmergConnect. The EmergConnect platform is a patient self-assessment, registration and wait-time prediction tool for emergency department, urgent care, virtual care and all other forms of same-day care services. The system uses artificial intelligence and predictive modelling and is based on the Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS), a widely used tool for prioritizing emergency department patients.
With EmergConnect, patients can take the guesswork out of deciding which facility to go to and how long they can expect to wait.
Just think of the benefits if only the patients truly needing same-day care were the ones waiting in hospital emergency rooms—it would mean shorter wait times, less clinician and nursing staff burnout, improved efficiencies and ultimately, would lead to a higher quality of care.
EmergConnect turned to the Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical Innovation Ecosystem (SOPHIE) program to partner with The Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton to test its platform with patients and clinicians. Follow-up surveys administered to both groups also will generate additional data for regulatory approval of their solution.
“The SOPHIE program gave us the perfect opportunity to complete the research and validation we require to commercialize,” said Galaev.
In 2020, Galaev had a product concept and leaned on Innovation Factory for mentorship and connections to Hamilton’s life science ecosystem through the Synapse Life Science Consortium. He quickly found experts who supported his product development. He later went on to participate in LiONS LAIR, Innovation Factory’s regional pitch competition. EmergConnect wowed the investment panel and took home the grand prize, but the momentum did not stop there. Recently, the company secured $750,000 in financing, is currently completing pilots with multiple hospital networks and plans to begin a new investment round later this year.
“EmergConnect presented a unique solution with the potential to provide benefits at the patient, clinician and organizational level,” said David Carter, CEO of Innovation Factory. “The scalability of the team’s technology is also significant because every healthcare system is looking to optimize efficiency. We are excited to have supported them at their earlier stages and, through the SOPHIE program, enabling them to complete validation studies with renowned health institutions within our growing life science ecosystem.”
Delivered by Hamilton’s Innovation Factory, in collaboration with the Synapse Life Science Consortium, the SOPHIE program launched in 2021 with a $6-million investment from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The SOPHIE program supports high-potential life science companies and enables them to accelerate their path to market. To date, the program has supported 37 commercialization projects, helped those emerging companies raise over $50-million in funds and enabled $6.8-million in commercialization investment.
Healthcare systems are complex and Galaev’s rapid success is impressive. The EmergConnect platform has been refined over time to become trial-ready, and Galaev notes that access to government and hospital advisors was invaluable during this process. He also emphasizes that system integration is only required at a hospital level and is patient-user friendly, ensuring data confidentiality, privacy and security.
As Galaev explains, “We recognized early on that a key part of our success was forming partnerships with those who provided business, technology and clinical guidance. Innovation Factory helped us when we first started and, as our company evolved, we were provided access to the necessary programs, resources and strategic partners when we needed them.”