Reshaping how medical processes and procedures are done

The funding of private firms to help advance AI-assisted health care is a commitment by the Alberta provincial government to create Canadian-made solutions — and Alberta-led investment opportunities. As such, investors may be interested to learn that one of the two private firms that received funding from Alberta Innovates was Calgary-based Mikata Health Inc. that specialises in Mika AI Scribe technology which is designed to automate manual paperwork and data entry performed by doctors and other clinicians.

According to Alberta Innovates, Mikata Health was granted $800,000 to research and develop the technology with a focus on privacy, safety and ethics while using AI. It will also work closely with clinics and health care teams on testing and implementation.

“The technology addresses critical problems of workloads and burnout for health care providers and will also help improve care for Albertans,” Kyle Nishiyama, Mikata Health’s CEO and co-founder, said.

Alberta Innovates will coordinate a commitee from the health care sector to provide ethical and technical advice. The committee will also support moving the research into direct use in Alberta’s health care system.

The other private company, Symbiotic AI, received $799,996 for an AI-based decision support tool for patients with coronary artery disease in real-world clinical settings.

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Leveraging educational research

The rest of the recipients are the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, with the first five belonging to the former. They are:

University of Alberta:

  • SCANAID, which screens congenital heart anomalies using AI detection, received $798,857
  • An AI pipeline for urgent health conditions requiring diagnostic imaging received $799,662
  • AI to support timely and quality suggestions for Alberta Health Link 811 received $783,988
  • An evaluation of AI-assisted opioid overdose predictions received $800,000
  • The MIRA AI chatbot for mental health services and programs was funded $799,447

University of Calgary:

  • AISA, an AI-guided identification and auditing of treatment-eligible ischemic strokes received $800,000
  • Development of automated AI-enabled genomic analysis technology to stop infection outbreaks within hospitals received $799,989
  • Development of digital tools and AI to understand social determinants of health in primary care received funding of $755,500
  • AI-enabled health risk prediction for spinal cord injury received $800,000
  • The AI-CDS recieved $795,625. This is a digital health platform focused on the equitable AI clinical decision support

Alberta Innovates manages nearly 1,300 projects in a portfolio valued at $1.33 billion. The company works with innovators in all sectors of the economy and all corners of the province to drive entrepreneurship, applied research and industry development.

Why critical illness insurance is important for Canadians

While it may be taboo to discuss the possibility of being diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, it is important to always be prepared in case of an emergency — enter critical illness insurance.

If the unspeakable were to happen, chances are you’d need to take time off work — months, or possibly even years — to focus on your treatment and recovery. Aside from the need to replace lost income to cover your usual expenses, you might also require additional funds to cover out-of-pocket health care costs, such as uninsured prescriptions or treatments, travel or transportation, home care and modifications to your home or vehicle.

Critical illness insurance covers you for a specific term (commonly 10 years) and pays out a lump-sum tax-free benefit if you should become critically ill during the coverage period. In many ways, it’s similar to life insurance, but the benefit is paid to you while you are alive and sick, rather than to your heirs after you die.

A critical illness policy, which is an agreement between you and an insurance provider, will specify the details including which conditions are covered (up to 26 illnesses), how long you must be sick before you can make a claim (up to 30 days), and the amount of the benefit coverage you would receive.

As is the case with life insurance, your coverage needs depend on many factors—not the least of which is your level of savings. If you have a large emergency fund that could cover your day-to-day expenses and additional health care costs while you are receiving treatment for a severe illness, you may not need any critical illness insurance.

Differences between critical illness and disability insurance

Disability insurance is quite different from critical illness insurance, in that it’s only meant to replace a portion of your monthly income if you are unable to work due to an illness or accident. As such, it may help you pay for your usual day-to-day expenses, but it likely won’t be enough to pay for any additional costs resulting from a health condition. That’s where the lump-sum critical illness insurance benefit can really help. These are some other ways the two differ.

Disability insurance:

  • Covers you for any illness or injury that prevents you from working
  • Coverage is based on a percentage of your usual monthly income
  • Benefits are paid once a month

Critical illness insurance:

  • Covers you for a limited number of severe conditions
  • Coverage can be any amount (not based on income)
  • Pays a lump-sum benefit upfront

Find the right coverage

To make sure you choose and purchase the right life insurance policy, we suggest using an online search platform. This allows you to compare quotes and policies from the country’s top critical insurance providers, with the utmost speed and convenience.

One option is PolicyMe, an independent life insurance broker that offers a simplified online process to compare and find life insurance. Open a PolicyMe account to compare life insurance quotes from more than a dozen companies. Another option is to compare online options to Sun Life products. As a large insurance firm, Sun Life offers a variety of insurance products, including term and whole life insurance as well as critical illness and disability coverage. Find out more about Sun Life Insurance.

If critical illness or disability insurance is required, consider comparing quotes through PolicyAdvisor. An an online broker, PolicyAdvisor works with more than 25 insurance companies to find the best coverage for your needs. Using the online application, you can view, save and compare policy details side-by-side, as well as submit an application for coverage online. For now, PolicyAdvisor Life Insurance serves residents in Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba, but may expand to other provinces in the future.

Unexpected vet bills don’t have to break the bank

Life with pets is unpredictable, but there are ways to prepare for the unexpected.

Fetch Insurance offers coverage for treatment of accidents, illnesses, prescriptions drugs, emergency care and more.

Plus, their optional wellness plan covers things like routine vet trips, grooming and training costs, if you want to give your pet the all-star treatment while you protect your bank account.

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Nicholas completed his master's in journalism and communications at Western University. Since then, he's worked as a reporter at the Financial Post,, Sustainable Biz Canada and more. Aside from reporting, he also has experience in web production, social media management, photography and video production. His work can also be found in the Toronto Star, Yahoo Finance Canada, Electric Autonomy Canada and Exclaim among others.

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