(L to R) Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice President of Science and Research, Dr. Heather Ross, Dr. Joseph Cafazzo and Mark Taylor, Director of Commercialization at UHN. (Photo: UHN StRIDe Team)

Drs. Heather Ross and Joseph Cafazzo are the winners of UHN's 19th annual Inventor of the Year Award.

The researchers are being recognized for their discovery leading to the commercialization of the Medly platform, a fit-in-your pocket companion for heart care powered by software and artificial intelligence developed at UHN.

Medly is also the basis of UHN new venture Medly Therapeutics, poised to bring heart care benefits to patients around the world.

Dr. Heather Ross is the Division Head of Cardiology at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), the Scientific Lead for the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research at PMCC, the Loretta A. Rogers Chair in Heart Function and the Pfizer Chair in Cardiovascular Research. Dr. Joseph Cafazzo is the Executive Director, Biomedical Engineering, the Centre for Digital Therapeutics, and Healthcare Human Factors (HHF) at UHN, and is the Wolfond Chair in Digital Health.

"Their pioneering digital health innovations are changing the face of heart health for patients nationwide," says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President of Science and Research at UHN. "Commercialization of the Medly platform is an example of translating world-class research into precision medicine – for the benefit of cardiac patients, as well as for individuals living other chronic diseases."

Sponsored by Commercialization at UHN, the Inventor of the Year Award recognizes an individual or team whose invention has made a substantial and noteworthy commercialization contribution leading to A Healthier World.

Drs. Ross and Cafazzo worked closely with Commercialization at UHN to pivot the Medly technology into a foundational platform for UHN spinoff Medly Therapeutics. The process included the selection of a seasoned entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) to lead company formation efforts. Commercialization at UHN continues to steward ongoing augmentations to Medly's core technology.

The journey leading to the development and commercialization of Medly would not have been possible without important contributions from members of TeamUHN and the University of Toronto, including Emily Seto, Shumit Saha, Bo Wang, Michael McDonald, Amika Shah, Kenneth R Chapman, Philip Segal, as well as UHN's Centre for Digital Therapeutics team, the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, PMCC and HHF. Drs. Ross and Cafazzo are also grateful for the vast philanthropic support from donors to UHN Foundation who have enabled the development of the Medly platform.

Medly has proven clinically effective at UHN and other sites

According to Dr. Ross, nearly one million Canadians are living with heart failure (HF) and one-in-five people over the age of 40 will experience HF. Challenges in treating HF include timing patient treatment with HF episodes, a lack of real-time, actionable patient data and limited patient involvement along the journey to better health.

To counteract these challenges, Drs. Ross and Cafazzo devised Medly to be an innovative digital self-management solution with 24/7 monitoring technology, making it accessible and easy to use for patients wherever they might be.

The Medly technology has proven to be effective clinically at UHN and other sites, supporting more than 800 patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) at the PMCC. It has also led to a 50 per cent reduction in HF-related hospitalizations and a 24 per cent reduction in other hospitalizations, with patients reporting greater self-management support, confidence and peace of mind, and a better relationship with their care team.

"In delivering health care today, we are often still overly focused on treating patients once they become acutely ill and end up in hospital," says Dr. Ross. "Leveraging the incredible power of big data, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, Medly provides a more proactive, scalable and affordable solution to manage the epidemic of heart failure – and research is continually ongoing to enhance it.

"Working with the team at Commercialization at UHN to scale Medly nationally and beyond will allow this technology to reach more patients than ever before."

Dr. Cafazzo says, "innovative digital therapeutic solutions like Medly give patients an incredibly advanced capacity to manage their care at home, right at their fingertips, while still staying connected to their healthcare team.

"By detecting changes in a patient's health status, Medly also allows care providers to intervene earlier, before the patient needs to be re-hospitalized for a serious complication such as heart failure, which can be an immense added comfort to patients living with complex chronic conditions," Dr. Cafazzo adds.

Commercialization at UHN is thrilled to recognize the world-class science, collaboration and commercialization of this groundbreaking digital health technology. It is exciting to see another UHN and Toronto ecosystem technology making bold strides towards improving health and reaching more patients in need.

Congratulations Drs. Ross and Cafazzo and teams!

About Medly

How it works

Based on core technology invented at UHN, Medly includes an application that can be used on hand-held devices such as smart phones, home medical devices and wearables to help individuals self-manage heart disease. Every day, patients enter key details such as their weight, blood pressure and heart rate and answer questions about their symptoms. Using a sophisticated, expert system and machine learning algorithms, Medly assesses health risks in real-time and notifies the patient's care team of any signs of deteriorating health. The app then triggers alerts to the health care team, which are presented alongside the patient's list of medications, lab results, graphs and contact information. Medly enables care providers to intervene proactively, before the patient would otherwise recognize a need to visit a clinic or hospital. The team is now working to incorporate additional features into the Medly platform, including an automated solution to optimize medication dosages based on data from patient visits.

What's next?

Medly's technology is currently being channeled into Medly Therapeutics, a new venture partnership between Commercialization at UHN and Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP), scaling the technology for maximum patient impact.

For more information about the Medly platform, visit: www.medly.ca

For more information, including past winners of the Inventor of the Year Award, please visit: www.uhncommercialization.ca

With generous support from many donors to UHN Foundation, including the Rogers Foundation, the Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation, and the Greg and Henry Wolfond families, clinical care through Medly continues to be available to patients at UHN and beyond. Ongoing philanthropic support and industry partnerships create a ripe setting to explore enhancements such as cutting-edge wearables, novel sensor-based technologies and artificial intelligence enabled algorithms, all with the goal of creating new systems of care for more patients.

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