Tech start-up of the week: Pocket Anatomy

10 May 2014

Pocket Anatomy CEO Mark Campbell accepts Best European StartUp Award on stage at TNW in Amsterdam from TNW CEO Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. Photo by Julia de Boer

Pocket Anatomy’s award-winning 3D visual software solution is like Google Earth for healthcare, facilitating doctor-patient diagnoses communication and promoting patient well-being and personal healthcare understanding.

Pocket Anatomy’s educational healthcare iOS apps are in use by 250,000 students and educators, as well as 50 educational institutions in the US. The company’s aim is to take the underlying technology and make it more relevant and meaningful to the patient market, thus empowering patients to understand and manage their own health and well-being.

Last month, the company won the Boost start-up competition at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

Future Human

Pocket Anatomy is based at NUI Galway’s incubation centre.

“At Pocket Anatomy, we have developed a mobile medical software solution that doctors are calling the Google Earth of the human body, helping patients and their families visualise their health conditions,” explained co-founder Mark Campbell.

“To date, we have helped a quarter of a million medical residents, and over 50 schools train smarter doctors.

“Now we’re licensing our software to private hospitals and insurance providers, where our solution leads to better patient understanding, improved healthcare outcomes and as a result, a reduction in annual malpractice litigation costs.”

The founder

Campbell said that as well as a hybrid team of healthcare professionals, educators, marketers, and software developers at Pocket Anatomy, the company has board members with track records in the software, medical, and life-science sectors.

“My own background is in interactive multimedia design, with a strong focus on the user experience.

“Our ‘pencils before pixels’ approach forces us to understand the users’ behaviours and needs while involving them in the product development lifecycle from the start.

“From observational studies, story-boarding, paper-prototyping, and continuous product refinement through usability testing, interviews and case-studies, this approach greatly increases the chances of a great user experience and high user satisfaction, when the product goes live.”

The technology

Campbell said that currently Pocket Anatomy is available only on iOS for the iPhone and iPad.

“We are launching a Mac OS version of our software in late May.

“Doctors use our software when explaining to patients where a health condition is located and what the treatment/procedure will involve.”

The ultimate goal, Campbell said is to be the de-facto visual reference of the human body for doctor-patient engagement.

“We’re completely self-funded to date, and are currently raising a €1m investment round to scale this technology.

“As a small company, we pride ourselves on product improvement and adding value to the end-user. Luckily our target audiences aren’t shy about telling us what they want to see added in future releases, resulting in 28 updates to our software in the last two years.”

The power of the network

Campbell says the Irish start-up scene at present is booming.

“We have no shortage of ideas, and what I’m finding to be the biggest benefit in the Start-up scene here in Ireland is ‘the power of the network’ and our ability to tap into the knowledge that exist at home as well as within the Irish communities abroad.

“National support structures such as Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Boards and Campus Incubators have been hugely important to us, but equally grassroots initiatives such as StartUp Ireland (with membership organisations in Galway, Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Dundalk, Limerick and Waterford) are a great place to meet, learn, share ideas (and mistakes!) and get inspired.

“Some of the best business advice we have received came from meeting other start-ups at these events including CloudDock, Embo, ExOrdo, OnePage CRM, RealSim, Tribal City and Trustev.

In conclusion Campbell offered five tips that have helped Pocket Anatomy on its start-up journey:

  1. Involve your end users from the very start
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact fail often, but know when to change tack and pivot the business towards a more sustainable business model or more appropriate market fit.
  3. Build the right team
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  5. If possible, self-finance through sales (bootstrapping), as it is easier when raising finance that you have validated your concept through sales and gained initial traction

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years