By Andrew Seale
For Vancouver-founded startup Shift Health having a presence in Toronto was vital.
“Toronto is an area you need to be,” says Daniel Penn, co-founder of the startup. “TOHealth! expects it to be one of the top five healthcare tech hubs in the next five years (and with that) I think there's going to be even more support, more push, and more drive.”
And while the company’s first two clients were in Sydney and Boston – Shift Health is a homegrown startup looking to bring it’s platform TickiT, a patient reported data (PRD) tool to Canadian heathcare providers.
TickiT is an interactive mobile questionnaire platform designed to engage patients by asking them questions about their mental and physical health – both psychosocial concerns like drug use, alcohol and sexual activity as well as broader questions surrounding their experience with the healthcare provider.
“Our focus has been on the utilization of patient reported data to improve outcomes and seeing how we can help bring the patient’s voice forward in the healthcare environment,” adds Penn.
The information is analyzed instantly and prepared in a report for the healthcare provider, flagging critical information.
In step with patient privacy, TickiT transfers and stores data securely according to global privacy and security legislations.
“The idea came from my co-founder (Dr. Sandy Penn Whitehouse),” says Penn. Whitehouse, a specialist physician focused on adolescents, former medical director of the ER at BC Children’s Hospital, and professor at the University of British Columbia, came up with the idea after noticing youth patients weren't particularly engaged with their health.
As she explained to BetaKit in 2014, three years after beginning work on Shift Health: “They come into the emergency setting unprepared. With young people they can appear to think they’re sophisticated, when in fact they are really just learning about their bodies and their health, and even more so learning about the healthcare system itself.”
The startup has offices in both Toronto and Vancouver. While its team in Toronto is small, Shift Health has leveraged the Toronto ecosystem to its full extent, says Penn.
“It's helped us become who we are,” he says. “We were lucky, when we opened here MaRS was getting into a good groove, there was lots of funding support and a great system of organizations very successful in our space, so we were able to talk to some great mentors who helped us really improve.”
He points out that while the Toronto health care environment can be a challenging space to sell a product like TickiT, the multicultural diversity in Toronto is unrivalled, making it ideal for Shift Health to prove its technology works when it comes to overcoming cultural or language-related barriers.
“Those barriers don’t enable the healthcare system to really flourish,” he says. “But for Shift Health, working in a diverse place like Toronto really helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t – (Toronto) is definitely going to be a key part of our company as we move forward.”