Our Tech Start-Up of the Week is Patient Journey Record (PaJR), a new Irish health-tech venture that’s developing a cloud-based hospital re-admissions platform, with the aim of revolutionising the care management marketplace globally. PaJR is currently over in Chicago, one of 10 start-ups participating in the first ever Healthbox accelerator.
The company behind PaJR has now renamed to Cara Heath, explains one of the co-founders and CEO, Enda Madden.
PaJR has honed its technologies to target care management providers who offer outbound calls to hospitals in order to support patients after they have been discharged from hospitals or who have been identified as being at risk of hospitilisation.
And the company is fast making waves in the US healthcare space. Just last October PaJR spent some time in Silicon Valley where it met with venture capitalists. The result was PaJR positioned itself for a Series A round later in 2012. And the Silicon Valley trip was also the trigger for getting onto the Healthbox start-up accelerator. Coincidentally, PaJR is the only non-US start-up engaged in Healthbox.
"We made contact with Sandbox Ventures, which runs the HealthBox accelerator out of Chicago," explains Madden.
TCD campus company
PaJR itself has eclectic roots. The project was transitioned out of the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) last September, having completed the Catalyser programme there. The team then went on to form a new Trinity College Dublin (TCD) campus company called Cara Health with Dr Carmel Martin, Professor Carl Vogel, Professor Lucy Hederman, Kevin Smith, Brendan Madden and Enda Madden as co-founders.
So how did the idea for PaJR come about?
Enda Madden says that much of the clinical theory underpinning PaJR’s technology was spawned from the work of one of the start-up’s co-founders Dr Carmel Martin, who has experience in international health systems, both as a practicing physician and as public health policy-maker.
"Her academic research focused on the application of complex adaptive systems theory to the development of care management models for frail elderly patients with multiple chronic illness."
He says the company originally set out to look at extending the functionality of personal health records (PHRs).
Explains Madden: "PHRs are not yet widely used, especially amongst frail elderly patients. We then looked at utilising speech recognition over the phone to provide the input for our analytics. However in many cases, patients’ conversations were difficult to analyse, as speech recognition was not sufficiently advanced particularly to deal with the impact of congestive heart failure. At that point we were learning about the rapidly growing market of outbound call services from care management providers driven by new legislation in the US and UK that penalising hospitals who do not reduce their avoidable admission rates especially within 30 days of post-discharge from hospital."
Madden is also the founder of another health start-up in Ireland called GroupNos Technologies, which was set up in 2008.
It was while studying for his undergraduate degree in computer science, linguistics and French at TCD that Madden first met Professor Carl Vogel, who was his course director.
"We’ve known each other for some time. After graduating from TCD in 2002 I worked as a software engineer in the US and The Netherlands before returning to Ireland in 2007," explains Madden.
Getting onto the Healthbox accelerator
But what exactly is so unique about PaJR that has attracted the attention of Healthbox in Chicago?
"Our platform combines voice data gathered from phone calls to patients conducted by non-clinical call operatives with artificial intelligence (machine learning) algorithms. Our highly predictive analytics generates alerts of future unplanned events such as hospitalisation. This facilitates early intervention by the care team to manage these unplanned events," explains Madden.
He says that the only technology a patient requires is a phone.
"Our system incorporates the patients needs, along with factors such as illness, medication, medical and healthcare, social, environmental and health promotion. These all feed into our predictive model."
Connected health sector
Enterprise Ireland has also been a great support, according to Madden.
"Connected health has been identified as a key growth area by Enterprise Ireland for indigenous technology companies. We also hope to expand our current pilot sites in Ireland with the support of the HSE.
So how did PaJR manage to get a spot on the inaugural three-month Healthbox start-up accelerator in Chicago?
"After being shortlisted out of several hundred online applicants we had a Skype interview. This led to our selection in the top 10 pitches and we were delighted to be the only non-US company in this group," says Madden.
Goals for 2012
And PaJR’s key goals for 2012 include setting up test sites in North America as part of its customer discovery and development activities. The company is also hoping to raise the aforementioned Series A funding round by Q3 2012. Healthbox has been a tremendous help on all three fronts, according to Madden.
"They are offering us access to healthcare providers and payers through their co-investors in the programme such as BlueCross BlueShield, Ridgeview Medical and Ascension Health, the largest non-profit hospital network in the US.
"We’re also working on design and development activities with the world famous design agency IDE," he explains.
Healthbox itself has a mentor network of over 70 mentors, which is providing the 10 engaged start-ups with strategic advice.
And of the best part of being on the programme is that PaJR will be involved in an investor day in April at Healthbox. That’s when each of the 10 companies will have an opportunity to pitch to a group of over 300 healthcare investors from all over the US, and further afield.
So are there any other plans in the pipeline for PaJR?
"We are also customising our solution for payer systems that services for the frail elderly population such as Medicare Advantage programmes in the US," explains Madden. And he says the company is also aiming to customise its system for cancer care and behavioral health services.
"Our longer-term plan is to offer sentiment analysis on our large population data sets about particular drugs, medical devices and health services. This is of particular interest to manufacturers and healthcare tech investors," he says.
Finally, Madden’s advice for other tech start-ups in Ireland right now is spend as much time as possible with your target market.
"Develop your relationships with potential investors before you need investment and listen. The less you talk and spent listening to valuable feedback and suggestions the better!" he adds.