In this case, the Patent Appeal Board (“PAB”) rejected the home healthcare system disclosed in Canadian Patent Application No. 2,579,081 (“the ‘081 Application”), entitled “Home Health Point-Of-Care and Administration System” for obviousness. [3]

Canadian Patent Application No. 2,579,081: Home Health Point-Of-Care and Administration System

The ‘081 Application describes a system used for managing and coordinating the provision of home healthcare. [4] The claimed invention uses a server system that is accessible via a communication network. [14] This system creates and updates schedules, determines route information, tracks visit times and travel distances, creates records and plans, and bi-directionally communicates the information between the server and users. [14] The system seeks to overcome disadvantages in current home healthcare systems such as miscommunication, fraud or abuse by visiting caregivers, monitoring through spot-checking or patient feedback, use of paper reports, and costs and inefficiencies due to administrative staff having to process the information. [13]

The issue to be decided by the PAB was whether the claims of the application are obvious. [6]

Obviousness: No Degree of Inventiveness

The PAB applied the four-step test that was articulated in Apotex Inc v Sanofi-Synthelabo Canada Inc, 2008 SCC 61 to determine if the claims were obvious. [9] The person skilled in the art was defined as “a team comprising not only engineers and technologists experienced with systems supporting the provision of telemedicine or home care, but also home healthcare agency administrators and home healthcare providers.” [11]

The PAB determined that the skilled person would find two differences between the inventive concepts of the claims and the prior art: (i) dynamic updating of schedules based on tracked visit times, and (ii) recording an annotation to accompany a transmitted image. [31] It was found, however, that these differences did not require any degree of invention.

It was disclosed at numerous points within the prior art that schedules would be updated in real time or at the start of each work period due to changing conditions. [32, 34] Additionally, the prior art disclosed a caregiver adding an annotation to a patient’s file, using a field device to record a voice file, and generating and uploading digital photos of patients. [45] The PAB concluded that, based on these disclosures in the prior art, the two noted differences would have been obvious to one skilled in the art. [47]