The Ontario government announced funding today for a hip-surgery study that may help ease some of the procurement challenges that Canadian tech companies face in selling their innovative products to Canadian health-care organizations.

The study was part of a larger announcement in which Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott travelled to Waterloo Region to announce a planning grant of $5 million to help local officials plan for hospital expansion and improved patient services.

The $5-million grant will assist Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital as they evaluate a number of modernization options, including building a new state-of-the-art hospital and renovating existing infrastructure, the province said in a news release.

A website will be launched “in the days ahead” to provide more information and gather public input, Paul McIntyre Royston, President and Executive Director of the Grand River Hospital Association, said in a video statement.

Meanwhile, the government also announced a $1-million grant to support a study at Grand River Hospital involving hip-surgery technology developed by Kitchener-based Intellijoint Surgical Inc.

“This innovative technology was developed in Ontario and is intended to increase the accuracy of the placement of implants, which could lead to faster patient healing time and decreased likelihood of hip dislocations post-surgery,” the government said.

Grand River Hospital said it performs more than 400 total hip arthroplasties a year and will start its study of the Intellijoint HIP intraoperative navigation device this summer.

“Grand River is excited to lead a comprehensive research study that will assess the clinical and economic merits of this technology," said Sven Byl, the hospital’s Vice-President Digital, Insights, Improvement and Innovation. "This research will enable us to make recommendations to the ministry regarding funding models that support the use of new and innovative tools and technology to improve the quality of care for patients, and provide economic benefits across the health system. We are also pleased to work with McMaster University who will be supporting us in the data analysis and dissemination of study results."

Intellijoint co-founder and CEO Armen Bakirtzian said the study will benefit patients, the health-care system and the broader ecosystem.

"We are very excited by our Ministry of Health's investment in this study at Grand River Hospital to assess the patient benefits and health system efficiencies enabled by Intellijoint HIP,” said Bakirtzian. “This is not only encouraging for Intellijoint in its quest to deliver its products' benefits to Ontarians, but to the broader domestic ecosystem as this investment represents a will from our government to modernize the pathways of adoption of new medical innovations across our province.”

Canadian tech companies often face challenges selling their products to Canadian health-care organizations due to cumbersome procurement processes, risk aversion to new products and lean budgets. As a result, patients in Canada often miss out on the most innovative health-care products available.

Intellijoint is a good example. Although its Health Canada-approved hip-replacement technology is used in about 15,000 procedures internationally each year, the company’s first sale to a Canadian public hospital occurred just last month.

This procurement-access issue is one that Communitech is trying to help solve through a partnership with the Coordinated Accessible National Health Network, known as CAN Health.

CAN Health and Communitech are promoting the benefits of “integrated markets” – networks of buyers, such as public hospitals or municipalities, that are connected to Canadian suppliers through a streamlined product-validation and procurement process.

In the recent federal budget, Ottawa announced $30 million to help CAN Health and Communitech expand an existing integrated market of 27 innovative hospitals, clinics and health authorities to Quebec, Canada’s two northern territories and Indigenous communities.

“The integrated markets model benefits everyone,” said Communitech CEO Chris Albinson. “We’re thrilled that the provincial and federal governments recognize the value that this approach brings to all Canadians.”