According to a 2015 report from MarketResearch.com, the IoT healthcare market is predicted to hit $117 billion by 2020. And then there’s IoT 2.0. Sue Montgomery talks to Jim Joyce, HealthBeacon’s CEO, about the magic formula that has helped his company speed up innovation
In this context, it’s not just about devices that gather data and store it on their platforms, but those that actually connect to clinical systems and feed real-time data to providers from afar. The result is improved outcomes, better quality of life for patients, and reduced costs in the process. With advances in sensing technologies, many of these devices gather data passively, which is a key component of their effectiveness.
One company that’s making the most of such passive data gathering and the trend in IoT healthcare is Dublin-based HealthBeacon, which announced that it had completed a €1 million seed investment round in February 2016. HealthBeacon is a ‘unique smart sharps system that helps patients who use self-injectable medications at home to manage and improve their medical adherence more effectively’.
The company’s vision is based on a belief that ‘… supporting patients on their journey through therapy can contribute to better patient outcomes, support more personalised care and reduce clinical workload, while improving clinical workflows. We believe the areas of non-adherence and non-compliance can be significantly improved with sensible, thoughtful interventions integrated into existing standards of care.’
In April 2015, HealthBeacon, HealthXL (a Dublin-based global community of digital health innovators) and the Cleveland Clinic announced the launch of their research collaboration to ‘revolutionise the management of self-injectible medications at home’. As Martin Kelly, CEO and co-founder of HealthXL, noted in the statement, such partnerships are key for catalysing progress: ‘New collaborations are needed to drive innovation in healthcare that can scale globally. And that’s our mission to catalyse collaboration between leading brands in healthcare and the most exciting tech companies to improve the lives of millions of people.’
Recently, I spoke with Jim Joyce, HealthBeacon’s CEO, to find out more about their device and the success they’re experiencing. In his overview of the company, Joyce said that, ‘HealthBeacon, as a company, is building a product that passively collects patient data and then turns that into powerful clinical insights and targeted interventions to improve a patient’s treatment and outcomes. Our philosophy is that we want to work within the existing patient and clinical pathway, making it effortless for the doctor and the patient, but then returning insights that make it almost magical. In our short time on the market, we have already identified trends and patterns as to how and when patients manage their treatments in their homes. The medicines we work with treat chronic conditions away from the acute setting – which is great – but it’s not always easy for the patients. We want to re-connect these patients to their carers and clinicians so they don’t feel isolated.’
Our philosophy is that we want to work within the existing patient and clinical pathway, making it effortless for the doctor and the patient, but then returning insights that make it almost magical.
In describing the journey in getting the HealthBeacon product to market in Europe, he explained: ‘We invented the product two years ago and immediately took concepts and drawings to potential clients in Ireland. The reaction was positive and became even more positive as we iterated the product and developed our first working prototype. Ireland was an ideal setting. We had very fluid access to the clinical community and were able to have open discussion with the regulators. The smallness or closeness of Ireland was a big advantage. All of the skills from a technical and design perspective were right on our doorstep, and we really leveraged feedback from a close-knit medical community. Very early in the project, we made a conscious decision to over-index on design and that really paid off. It catalysed investors, clients and some great early employees, and helped us explain the vision of the product to early partners.’
I asked Joyce how a collaborative mindset and partnerships with HealthXL and the Cleveland Clinic have supported the company’s efforts. ‘Our view is you never build products like this in isolation. We took our ideas and products to some fantastic trusted partners like HealthXL, the Cleveland Clinic and the Uniphar Group. They offered all types of support, helping us socialise the idea to the clinical. HealthXL worked with the Cleveland Clinic, and we arranged structured interviews at the clinic’s medical campus, where they responded to the product and our approach to integrate the offering into clinical care.’
I then asked him why they decided to work with these specific organisations. ‘Relationships. I have been working with HealthXL since inception. It is led by a driven, passionate CEO – Martin Kelly (formerly of IBM Ventures) – and has built a smart, fun, and energetic team that is dedicated to bringing innovations like ours into large healthcare companies. The Cleveland Clinic is a member of the HealthXL group, and I’ve gotten to know some super-talented executives in their innovation group. As a health institution, the Cleveland Clinic has a track record of not only delivering best-in-class healthcare within its campus, but driving global health innovation.’
Joyce also provided some words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs in Europe’s medtech arena who are just getting started. ‘Play to Europe’s strengths. Don’t worry about Silicon Valley comparisons. Europe offers fantastic opportunities to work within a complete clinical system, and Ireland has a culture that is open to discussion and accessible. You won’t likely get the quick, big VC round, and the environment will force you to realise your business model much faster.
‘Ireland provides tax advantages to investors of startups, and Enterprise Ireland is one of the most prolific investors in Europe. Since the markets are smaller, you will be forced to internationalise sooner to make it big – and, every once in a while, need to hop on a plane to the US and get a dose of American optimism. I listen to lots of podcasts coming out of Silicon Valley to make sure I’m in the loop with the latest technology and startup trends.’
As the anticipated trends for IoT in healthcare continue to come to fruition, it looks like HealthBeacon will be one company helping to lead the way.
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