Our tech start-up of the week is SwiftQueue.com, a new cloud-based service to provide self-service appointments for healthcare facilitators such as GPs, physiotherapists and dentists, as well as hospitals.
Brendan Casey and Declan Donohoe set up SwiftQueue in 2011 when they detected a market opportunity to allow patients to choose and book their next healthcare appointment and to give healthcare professionals a platform to show available appointments.
The duo worked on developing the platform and validating their target market while they were participating in the Jerry Kennelly Endeavour programme in Tralee in Co Kerry in 2011.
The service works as a web-based platform, but Casey says SwiftQueue currently has a HTML5 app in beta testing. The plan is to release the app in the near future and he says it will work across all mobile devices.
So how did the idea for the service come about?
“As a patient you never know when you will need an appointment, how long you will be waiting for it, and after many phone calls you may still have to join a queue,” explains Casey.
And, after interviewing many healthcare professionals, he says they also expressed their frustration, with cancellations or re-scheduled appointments often costing clinics time and money.
“Our research identified that there was patient and clinic demand for a solution to communicate this information to patients for clinics,” explains Casey.
He gives the example of a person with a toothache late at night and who would normally have to wait until the next day to make an appointment with a dentist.
“With SwiftQueue you can log on at anytime 24/7 and see clinic availability so that you can book an appointment near home or near work and get instant confirmation.”
Casey, now CEO at SwiftQueue, has over 15 years’ experience in the business and IT space. He also founded two other start-ups in the past, including Idiro and Curach Technologies, which was acquired by Deloitte in 2010.
Donohoe, now CTO at SwiftQueue, has 13 years’ IT experience in project management and software development.
He has also founded other start-ups, such as Irish Backgrounds, a pre-employment screening venture, and Unite Recruitment.
As for SwiftQueue, the start-up currently employs four people full time and another four on a part-time basis. The company is also in the process of moving into the Trinity Enterprise Centre connected with Trinity College Dublin.
In 2012, Casey and Donohoe got onto the Propeller start-up accelerator programme at DCU Ryan Academy. Casey says the programme proved to be a huge boost in terms of developing the company.
SwiftQueue is also an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up company and was successful in obtaining Competitive Start funding last year.
Casey says that users of the service at the minute include GPS, dentists, physiotherapists, primary care clinics and hospitals.
“We have over 100 healthcare professionals signed up to use our service,” he says. Last November, the company also won an EU tender to deliver an online appointments solution for phlebotomy clinics at the Adelaide & Meath Hospital.
This service will initially cover the National Children’s Hospital and Peamount Hospital.
“We’re working with them to roll out the service in the next few months,” he says.
For 2013, Casey says the plan is to raise investment and to continue to develop the SwiftQueue solution to grow sales in Ireland and the UK.
His advice for those thinking of starting a new venture is to go for it if they have an idea that they are passionate about. However, he says that marketing research and validating a business model are both critical.
“The importance of knowing your market and recognising where revenue will come from are the most important start-up focus areas,” claims Casey.
“Once you have done that, then work hard to raise your funding and it is always important is to recruit the best people to join your team.”