‘Our solutions are transforming how patients self-manage at home’

25 Jan 2018

Eamonn Costello, CEO, PatientMpower. Image: Peter Houlihan

This week on Leaders’ Insights, Eamonn Costello discusses the potential to deliver technology that could change the face of healthcare.

Eamonn Costello is the CEO of PatientMpower.

Prior to co-founding PatientMpower in 2014, Costello held the role of director at MEG Support Tools, and was also COO at XSellco.

Based at The Digital Hub in Dublin 8, PatientMpower is contributing to the medtech revolution, aiming to create positive outcomes for those with kidney and lung disease.

Yesterday (24 January), it took part in the IPF Catalyst Challenge in Chicago and was named joint winner, splitting the $1m prize fund with Advanced Interactive Response Systems and Owlstone Medical.

Describe your role and what you do.

As CEO, my job is to provide the strategic direction for PatientMpower. We have a strong engineering, scientific and medical team, and I work to ensure they have the resources to ensure we execute on our plans. A lot of my time is spent establishing relationships with healthcare providers in our therapeutic areas (lung disease, kidney disease) and talking to users of our solutions (patients and healthcare workers).

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

With two kids under two, I’ve got more disciplined with my time in the last few years. Unless travelling, I have my week structured, with time set in the calendar to focus on different areas of the business, while setting time aside to be flexible for things that pop up. All of my planning is done through Google Calendar and Google Notes. About one week in six (currently), I’m in the US – generally east coast and mid-west – meeting customers and partners, building relationships.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

Technology has the potential to transform healthcare, but generating huge volumes of data with no insights would be counterproductive. We are developing digital therapeutics where we are generating insights into what’s happening with a patient, and the healthcare provider is not overburdened with data.

We are working with the FDA to ensure our solutions comply with US regulations, and also work to ensure we comply with various data regulations (HIPAA, GDPR).

We are also performing clinical trials to ensure we build the evidence that our solutions are having an impact on people’s lives, and this evidence will be critical for our reimbursement case with health providers.

‘Healthcare needs to embrace new models of delivering care, and to monitor people remotely rather than having to bring them in to hospitals’

What are the key industry opportunities you’re capitalising on?

The current model of delivering healthcare does not scale, and this is a worldwide problem. As a society, we are living longer, and many diseases are diseases of old age. Healthcare needs to embrace new models of delivering care, and to monitor people remotely rather than having to bring them in to hospitals to perform diagnostics – this is expensive for the hospital and inconvenient for the patient.

Our solutions are transforming how patients self-manage at home in pulmonary and kidney disease. By making them more independent, this will place less strain on the hospital systems.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

Seeing my dad battle a terminal illness got me interested in the healthcare industry. He got amazing care in the hospital but there was (and remains) a disconnect with how patients manage themselves at home. Since then, I’ve been passionate about helping patients better manage their condition by combining objective data with subjective quality-of-life data so they can better describe how they are doing at their appointments.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Spending too long working on something, focusing on the ‘sunk cost’. It’s important to re-evaluate everything you are working on and ensure it’s still appropriate to be investing time and resources on a project.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Ask them what they need to do their job, and trust them to do it. This allows me to get out of day-to-day details and plan the direction of the company. It’s also important to set ambitious goals and to communicate them clearly. 

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to effect change?

Early engagement is key, and The Digital Hub, where we are based, is doing a great job in the Dublin 8 local community with a digital skills initiative. There needs to be more role models but I think there are lots of great female-founder start-ups showing the way.

Who is your business hero and why?

No one in particular, but I do admire Michael O’Leary. Sometimes his bad press can be deserved but his no-BS and can-do attitude has to be admired, in addition to the fact he’s resident in the country and pays his tax here.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Currently, I’m reading Winning with Data by Tomasz Tunguz [and Frank Bien]. It helps you challenge your thinking and how you do things. The essence of the book is to transform your business with data and turn everybody into a data analyst.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

I’m a big fan of Google Suite productivity tools, Slack for communicating with the team, CRM software for tracking deals, and various analytics packages for monitoring how engaged our users are with our solutions. For a typical patient, we are tracking and making sense of around 10,000 data points per day.

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