CHEO Doctor Wins National Award for Mobile Health Innovation
Local pediatric surgeon and entrepreneur Dr. Matthew Bromwich accepted the "TELUS Award for mHealth Innovation" at the 29th Annual CATAAlliance Innovation Awards Gala tonight. He accepted the award on behalf of a team effort to develop and successfully implement a new approach to test hearing impairment worldwide, called ShoeBOX Audiometry.
mHealth or mobile health, is a term used for the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices. This new award category for the CATAAlliance recognizes: a Canadian organization for its outstanding technology engineering development or solution which has resulted in the production of a world-class mHealth product or family of products. The product or solution must have proven itself in operation, and its design and market success has enhanced Canada's international reputation for health care innovation and excellence.
"ShoeBOX Audiometry was a natural standout in this exciting new category," said John Reid, president of the CATAAlliance. "Dr. Bromwich and his team have used mobile technology and innovation in socially responsible yet highly impactful way – on an international scale. CATA is proud to advocate for them and to assist in fostering their growth."
ShoeBOX was originally developed at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute, and is currently in the beta testing phase, as a flagship product at the Ottawa start-up company called Clearwater Clinical. The team developed highly interactive, calibrated iPad games that enable the player to accurately test their own hearing, based on rigorous research. Based on how the user plays, precise hearing thresholds across all sound frequencies for each ear are reliably recorded to produce a traditional audiogram. ShoeBOX is a registered medical device with Health Canada and the FDA.
"Our bold idea was to develop a mobile point of care diagnostic tool that's so simple even children can test their own hearing," said Dr. Matthew Bromwich, principal investigator at the CHEO Research Institute and Chief Technology Officer at Clearwater Clinical. "The test is fun, accurate and inexpensive. It can also be used to connect people within a country or across the world to improve care. Thank you to the CATAAlliance for this tremendous honour, and their ongoing support."
In 2008 the WHO estimated that 664 million people have hearing impairment and that 80% of them live in low and middle income countries. Only 20% of the world's population has access to hearing testing and only 1 in 40 will be fitted with a hearing aid. In all of Africa there are only 160 audiologists for over 1 billion people. Demand for care vastly exceeds supply of equipment and access to professionals.
ShoeBOX has been used to test the hearing of more than 1000 children to date in Uganda, Bangladesh, Iqualuit and in Ottawa. It can also be used to test adults. According to Dr. Bromwich, mHealth presents a huge opportunity as as portability, connectivity and durability become standard requirements of healthcare providers worldwide.