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Health innovation and entrepreneurship face multiple challenges, but providing access to clinical settings can encourage the development of innovative technologies and improve the overall system

The rise of technology brings new opportunities to health care providers, suppliers, and patients alike. Personalization and individuality are in high demand, and eHealth meets those expectations accordingly. Digital health companies that supports in self-managing chronic illness, give patients the possibility to self-diagnose, and help caregivers in coordinating better will have a massive impact on determining future industry leaders.

Cutting-edge startups are a major contributor to the metamorphosis the industry is experiencing and are driving the emerging technology behind it. However, health innovation and entrepreneurship face multiple challenges, not only in the development phase of new products and services but also during their introduction and adoption in health care systems. The management of health innovation by leaders, expert teams, and champions is essential to meet these challenges and propel development, validation, implementation, evaluation, and the promotion of innovations.

Recognizing this problem, a consortium of institutions in Québec, including Hacking Health, Fonds de recherche du Québec, University Hospital Ste Justine, CHUM, and the University of Montréal, has created the Resident Innovators program. Intended for entrepreneurs and management students, the program provides entrepreneurs with a unique opportunity to improve their innovation in collaboration with first-line users while building a solid business plan. 

The program’s first resident innovator, Josette-Renée Landry, is the founder and CEO of Streamline Genomics, a platform that helps clinicians and researchers benefit from genomic sequencing without the need for data analysis expertise.

Having terabytes of data but not being able to interpret it negates the value of the data, so simply sequencing a genome isn’t helpful in and of itself. Add to that a million types of gene mutation variants, and a clinician’s work becomes a lot harder.

According to a Techstars article, about 40 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. (about 650,000 people) are affected by inadequate analysis tools in hospitals per year. “Streamline Genomics provides clinicians with a powerful and user-friendly analysis platform that can better inform diagnosis and treatment,” says Landry. Clinicians log in, upload sequencing information for their patient, select specific parameters for the analysis, and wait a few hours while Streamline’s algorithm goes to work.

“The clinician can then retrieve the report and review the critical mutations that are likely driving the patient’s cancer,” says Landry. “The clinician can focus on the actionable variants, meaning those for which medical intervention is possible.” In addition to a summary report featuring interactive, visual representations of data, the underlying data is also integrated and easily accessible for clinicians to take a deeper dive if required.

For now, Streamline is focusing on cancer, specifically pediatric leukemia, but is hoping to eventually offer its services for rare genetic diseases. It’s also targeting hospitals and research labs, hoping to set itself apart from other genome analysis services with its ease of use, UX/UI, and extensive network.

“Rather than trying to develop a single service to meet a wide variety of needs and markets, Streamline Genomics remains entirely focused on clinicians and clinical oncology, unlike competitors that have a broader genomic use case,” says Landry.

While time will tell if Streamline Genomics can scale fast enough and provide a better service than its competitors, access to clinicians, patients, and patient data will give it a competitive edge. The medical world has a long-standing understanding of residency. Extending this concept to the entrepreneurs and young researchers in management will open a world of possibilities for the creation of relevant technologies and the improvement of the health care system.

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