When Dr. Karen Cross arrived at Nova Scotia Health to take her new position as an Innovator in Residence, she hit the ground running. Her mission is to help build the foundation for new health technology enterprises in the province.


Dr. Cross is a board-certified surgeon and scientist with a specialization in advanced tissue injury and wound care. She is also the CEO and co-founder of MIMOSA Diagnostics Inc., a mobile health technology company aimed at revolutionizing skin imaging.


Driven to improve patient care and patient access to health care with technology, Dr. Cross worked with her co-founder and team to develop MIMOSA Pro, a portable non-contact imaging platform used to detect and monitor skin health problems like tissue injury and wounds. As an Innovator in Residence, she’s hoping to inspire other innovators to follow her lead.


“Nova Scotia Health is embracing innovation. To have the alignment of the government, the health authority and the people who are doing the work — it is an unparalleled relationship. You have everyone aligned; it means everyone can move forward together,” says Dr. Cross.

“It is a new way of thinking, and it’s about breaking out and breaking down boundaries that have existed for people who are entrepreneurial or innovative.”


Born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Cross relocated to Halifax from Toronto earlier this year when Nova Scotia Health launched an Innovation Hub, a first-of-its-kind centre of excellence for health research and innovation in Atlantic Canada.


As part of the Innovation Hub, the new Innovators in Residence program was started to promote innovation, provide education and leadership to clinicians and administration and champion the clinical implementation of innovative technologies and solutions within the health system.


“Dr. Cross is a dynamic clinical leader, and she is so well-respected in her field,” says Doris Grant, senior director of innovation for Nova Scotia Health. “She is already driving significant change within Nova Scotia. She’s an entrepreneur, she’s a clinician, she’s a consensus builder. She is working hard toward system-level change.

She is an all-round superstar.”


In the Innovator in Residence program, Dr. Cross is joined by Dr. Michael Dunbar, an orthopaedic surgeon at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and a professor of surgery at Dalhousie University. He recently spearheaded a project using the Mako Smart Robotics system, a robotic arm controlled by a surgeon during hip and knee surgeries.


“They’re both experts in their fields and so passionate about driving change,” says Doris. “They are true innovators and mentors.”


Dr. Cross’s innovation, MIMOSA Pro, is a tissue viability imaging platform designed to detect tissue injury before it is visible with the naked eye. The imaging device is small and fits into the palm of your hand, thereby bringing the technology to the bedside. Images can be processed in 750 milliseconds and provide results versus traditional technology, which takes 30-40 minutes. Images are then uploaded to a secure portal for remote viewing, which means patients can be monitored in their own cities and towns. MIMOSA aims to improve access to care by breaking down geographic boundaries and improving outcomes for patients by detecting changes earlier.


There is no technology designed to properly assess the physiology of the skin. Skin breakdown can lead to wounds, infection and sometimes require amputation or, in extreme cases, lead to death. Catching the wound at an earlier stage — sometimes even before it’s visible — means that treatment can start sooner, and severe outcomes can be avoided.


MIMOSA Pro is available for clinical use in the United States and Dr. Cross expects it will be available in Canada in 2023. While her company is still headquartered in Toronto, she has opened an office in Halifax, hired three people locally and expects to hire more.


Meanwhile, Dr. Cross is also hard at work establishing a province-wide centre of excellence for wound care. She sees her role as being an advocate, bringing the expertise in Nova Scotia together, bridging gaps and finding the resources needed to create the best patient-centred care.


“We are setting the standards in the delivery of care,” says Dr. Cross. “It’s an honour and a privilege to work with nurses, doctors and healthcare providers in this province who have already done so much. Once we’re done and we have a system in place, Nova Scotia will be on the global stage in wound care.”