Liana Di Marco

MaRS EXCITE: Help navigating health system market access in Ontario

MaRS EXCITEWorking in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the main funding entity in Ontario, EXCITE now offers customized, flexible services to help companies understand:
  • the evidence they need to meet key stakeholder decision-making requirements to access the province’s market,
  • the relevant systemic barriers that could slow adoption and uptake,
  • the system changes that need to occur to support successful system implementation of the new technology.

The Mission

EXCITE’s mission is to foster the adoption of innovative health technologies in Ontario, and to leverage those successes and experiences into global markets. EXCITE navigates the highly complex health sector and facilitates collaborative engagement of technology companies with the Ministry of Health, clinical experts and other key health system stakeholders to improve opportunities for market access.

EXCITE’s unique advantage is the ability, as a neutral third party, to access and engage decision makers, payers, regulators and other relevant bodies around one common table,  to identify opportunities that increase the likelihood of adoption and uptake. These early interactions, at a pre-adoption stage, mitigate the risk for downstream rejection of potentially game-changing technologies by the health system.

What’s New?

In response to the needs of later-stage health technology companies interested in entering the Ontario health system, EXCITE’s services have recently evolved to allow a more modular service offering that focuses on helping innovators demonstrate the value of their product to the health care system and understand how their solution may be integrated into existing infrastructure and system processes.

Through a customized and focused scope of work, EXCITE collaborates directly with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to support adoption and diffusion of promising technologies within the Ontario health system. This unique service, referred to as Implementation Navigation, creates a safe space for key system stakeholders to come together with industry in a unified way, in order to deconstruct the old system paradigm and collaborate on a possible, ideal future state. This work supports decision makers through the provision of contextual evidence and practical pathway options for the integration of innovative technologies into the Ontario health system.

The goal: Maximized patient access to innovation and improved clinical and economic benefits for the Province.

How Does Implementation Navigation Work?

EXCITE’s Implementation Navigation service convenes in-person working groups that include relevant representation from within the Ontario MOH, clinical experts, industry leaders, and other key stakeholders relevant to market access decision-making. These working group sessions allow players to convene around a common table to identify system barriers, opportunities and considerations for successful health system integration. Key learnings from the working sessions are synthesized into a market access plan that is provided to both the company and the MOH. This plan leverages the technical advice and insights provided by the MOH and other key policy and decision makers and outlines potential implementation pathways for consideration for successful health system integration.

The length of engagement can range between 4 – 6 months based on the scope of each individual project.

Implementation Navigation provides numerous advantages:

  • Increased understanding of how a technology aligns with health system priorities
  • Ability to engage key system stakeholders in a non-traditional way, exploring opportunities to incorporate the technology in Ontario’s $53B healthcare system
  • A market access plan detailing barriers and opportunities for system implementation and uptake

What Are People Saying About the New Services?

The service really helps life science firms like [Boston Scientific] understand our value-propositions in local terms, identify and plan for barriers early, design trials more effectively, and hear directly from Ministry officials how we should navigate various stakeholders,” says Ken Spears, Canadian Country Director and Regional Vice-President, Boston Scientific (a multinational enterprise). “Our most recent collaboration to make a life-saving medical device available to Ontarians has gotten off to a strong start, and we look forward to working with the team at EXCITE on the innovations we plan to launch in the near future. I’m confident other innovators and system stakeholders will enthusiastically embrace the value of EXCITE as they learn more about its potential.”

Instead of working with discrete institutions, replicating work and effort in order to reach more potential customers and partners, the EXCITE program facilitates a holistic pathway to market that involves all the relevant stakeholders at the right time, in order to substantially reduce the risk for us as a company and our investors. This collaborative approach, and willingness of stakeholders to work together to bring new technology to the market and into treatment and care, makes Ontario the place to be for any medical device company, and places the region at the forefront for successful healthcare innovation,” says Ane Solesvik Oppedal, CEO, Ably Medical AS (an international small to medium-sized enterprise).

How Do I Learn More?

Since its launch in April 2018, this service has already seen significant interest from companies who recognize the unique value it provides.  For more information, please contact EXCITE at

Liana Di Marco is the Project Manager for MaRS EXCITE. Liana is a Certified Clinical Research Professional and Trainer with 11 years of experience in corporate medical device, academia and laboratory/medical clinic settings. MaRS is a co-host of medical Device Playbook Toronto. #MDPLAYBOOK

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