Galway oncologist’s tech tool could help healthcare workers upskill efficiently

17 May 2023

Michael McCarthy. Image: University of Galway

Michael McCarthy and his team have received funding from Enterprise Ireland to assess the commercial viability of their AI-powered tool.

With assistance from a team of collaborators, a consultant medical oncologist at University Hospital Galway has developed a digital tool to help healthcare workers with their workloads.

Michael McCarthy’s platform is designed to make it easier for busy medical staff to keep up with new advancements in medicine, science and medtech.

The OncDB platform uses AI to capture and analyse randomised controlled clinical trial reports. McCarthy intended it to be a convenient solution for people so they can save time while still keeping up with new developments in medical literature.

It can provide academics that author scientific papers with detailed user-engagement metrics for their published work.

“By providing a digital platform that captures and analyses randomised controlled clinical trial reports in real time, we can help clinicians, nurses, students, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals stay up to date with the latest treatments and therapies, ultimately improving patient outcomes,” said McCarthy.

He developed OncDB with assistance from the Adapt centre, Enterprise Ireland, University of Galway and the Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

The project has been awarded a commercialisation fund feasibility grant by Enterprise Ireland to determine the tool’s commercial viability.

The process will involve further development of the tool with assistance from machine learning and natural language processing specialist Dr John McCrae of University of Galway.

Commenting on the commercialisation route, McCarthy said the team wants to test its assumptions “regarding the appetite for such a platform in the broader medical and allied healthcare fields”.

They also want to ascertain the likelihood of institutional adoption of the platform by public healthcare training bodies, as well as in commercial sectors. This will depend on the financial value that the tool’s time saving can provide.

Dr Steven Griffin, clinical innovation manager, Health Innovation Hub Ireland, said his team was happy to be involved in the further development of the tool.

“The potential benefits for healthcare professionals, patients and the broader medical community are clear. We look forward to seeing the results of the feasibility study and the impact that this technology could have on healthcare in Ireland and beyond.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.