This week’s tech start-up of the week is Portable Medical Technology Ltd, a company that develops accredited and trusted apps for medical specialists to reduce medical errors, improve efficiencies and progress patient communication.
Portable Medical Technology was co-founded by University College Cork (UCC) graduates Kevin Bambury, Eoin O’Carroll and Richard Bambury. The company combines the essential tools specialists need into easy-to-use smartphone and tablet applications that are Food and Drug Administration and CE-approved and provide the latest updated tools to support critical medical decision-making.
Kevin Bambury states: “We set up Portable Medical Technology to develop mobile software to aid clinicians in their day-to-day decision-making. We felt there was a need for safe, validated and specialist-specific apps.”
In September 2011, the company was offered a place on the UCC Ignite programme, an incubation centre for higher education graduates to create jobs by nurturing entrepreneurship.
The team was also recently selected out of hundreds of other applicants from around Europe to relocate to London and take part in the prestigious Healthbox Europe start-up accelerator (a platform to empower healthcare entrepreneurs) in Hub Westminster, central London.
“We were delighted to obtain office space in central London as part of the Healthbox programme,” says O’Carroll. “Our headquarters are in Killarney, where the design and development of our first product ONCOassist takes place and we now also spend time in London, where a number of our customers are based. Through Healthbox we have learned a lot about how the healthcare system works and how to innovate in this system.”
ONCOassist is a revolutionary new smartphone and tablet application developed specifically for oncology healthcare professionals. The app contains all the prognostic tools and useful calculators that oncologists need at point-of-care, freeing them from the need to conduct time-consuming online searches and giving on-the-spot access to these important decision support tools.
The idea for ONCOassist came from company co-founder and medical oncology specialist registrar Dr Richard Bambury’s difficulties in trying to find safe and validated clinical decision support apps to help in decision-making. “He felt that current apps on the market were not tailored to his oncology-specific needs and were often untrustworthy,” explains Kevin Bambury.
Traditionally, oncologists have lost time by searching for academic papers and complex formulas online. ONCOassist changes this by offering them the required clinical decision support tools at point-of-care.
Eoin O’Carroll and Kevin Bambury pictured with the ONCOassist app
“In order to assess how much benefit our patients are likely to receive from chemotherapy, we have traditionally used estimates based on prior clinical trial data that may not be applicable to the patient we see in the clinic,” remarks Dr Richard Bambury. “There are a limited number of online tools available to make more precise estimates but none of these are in smartphone format, so we have tried to provide these tools.”
These particular tools are presented in an interactive format, so that clinicians can input patient data and get instantaneous results. With ONCOassist, Portable Medical Technology has released an application that is of use to both practising and training oncologists which will be regularly updated with the most up-to-date clinical tools to help them in their day-to-day work.
“We’ve decided to release the app only on iPhone and iPad for the time being, but we aim to offer it on Android devices within the next six to 12 months,” adds Kevin Bambury.
New EU laws dictate that apps which fall within the definition of a medical device need CE approval. Portable Medical Technology was the first Irish and third company worldwide to acquire this endorsement for a mobile app.
“We fell within the definition of a medical device category, so we wanted to produce a trustworthy and safe application. Therefore, CE approval was the only way to go. We were very proud to get the approval as it took a lot of hard work to get us there,” says co-founder O’Carroll.
Kevin Bambury continues: “With CE approval we can enter the rest of the EU, Canada and Australia. However, our focus is on first refining and developing ONCOassist in the UK and Ireland before expanding further afield.”
Assistance and the future
The team at Portable Medical Technology fully appreciates the helpful and encouraging assistance it has received over the last two years. “We received feasibility funding from Enterprise Ireland, which helped fund a trip to the American Society of Oncology conference in Chicago where we first met the founders of Healthbox,” says Kevin Bambury.
“The oncology community in Ireland is very strong and they have been obliging throughout the process in giving us feedback and telling us how we can improve the product. Thankfully, Ireland is a great place to start a business thanks to the support Enterprise Ireland offers,” he concludes.
The company’s long-term aim is to develop a series of ‘assist’ apps for various medical specialties and has already developed a technical and regulatory framework that can be applied to a variety of these specialties. Portable Medical Technology hope to have a number of these apps on the market in the near future.
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