The Wearable Revolution

October 12, 2018

As Canada’s population ages, the incidence of serious chronic health conditions is likely to increase. Managing these conditions, such as heart disease, may require continuous monitoring in order to manage them safely and effectively. Unfortunately, many of these monitoring devices are expensive and impractical.

These devices, such as electrocardiography (ECG) monitors, are cumbersome to wear, often restrict daily activities and make patients feel uncomfortable wearing them. However, they provide necessary and life-altering information to clinicians who are helping patients manage these issues.

HelpWear is aiming to bridge this gap between clinicians and patients by helping patients relieve the burdens of ECG monitors while maintaining the important information they provide clinicians.

It is a health innovation startup housed at the Biomedical Zone, which is a unique partnership between Ryerson University and St. Michael's Hospital. The Biomedical Zone is a startup incubator and innovation hub that helps early-stage health technology companies to validate their need-based solutions directly in the hospital setting with clinicians, business experts and innovative thinkers.

HeartWatch, one of the company’s products, is a 24/7 wearable heart monitoring system that detects when the user experiences a heart attack and contacts emergency services. It also stores all medical information that it has collected to help health care providers make informed decisions. It also provides real-time updates, should it detect an irregularity.

This kind of wearable technology represents a potential revolution in medical care, benefitting clinicians, patients and caregivers. For clinicians, it allows them to more accurately monitor heart palpitations and arrhythmias, flagging them as potentially requiring medical interventions. It also records patients’ health data, making it far easier to diagnose an issue in the case of an emergency. For patients, wearable technology helps ensure they can better monitor their health without feeling stigmatized or sacrificing activities of daily living. For caregivers, this kind of technology helps provide peace of mind, knowing they will be notified should their family member experience a health issue that requires immediate attention.

By matching big data with person-centred care, wearable technology meets the needs of all stakeholders in the care of Canadians.

The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) is a university-based think tank focused on leading cross-disciplinary research, thought leadership, innovative solutions, policies, and products on ageing. The NIA’s mission is to help governments, health care systems, pension plans, businesses, and Canadian families to best meet the challenges and opportunities posed to ageing Canadians and by an ageing demographic. Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our mailing list.

By Allan McKee, Communications Officer, National Institute on Ageing | Email:

Allan McKee