The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY - OLIVE KEOGH

The fast pace of mod­ern life can make it dif­fi­cult for those on strict med­i­ca­tion reg­i­mens. At best, about 70 per cent of pa­tients stick to their pre­scribed ther­apy and in some cases com­pli­ance can be as low as 50 per cent. Smart, con­nected de­vices that prompt peo­ple to take their med­i­ca­tion on tim are seen as a key way to im­prove this statis­tic. Dublin-based HealthBea­con has de­vel­oped what it be­lieves to be the world’s first smart sharps sys­tem to help pa­tients who self-in­ject med­i­ca­tion to man­age their treat­ment.

Peo­ple used to go to hos­pi­tal for in­jec­tions. How­ever, ad­vances in med­i­cal science have now made home ad­min­is­tra­tion pos­si­ble. What was needed was a way of mak­ing the hu­man part of the equa­tion work. Poor treat­ment ad­her­ence is es­ti­mated to cost health­care providers world­wide an es­ti­mated $290 bil­lion a year.

HealthBea­con’s Smart Sharps Sys­tem sends cus­tomised SMS re­minders to those who need reg­u­lar med­i­ca­tion for con­di­tions such as di­a­betes and Crohn’s dis­ease. Pa­tients no longer need to re­mem­ber of­ten com­plex in­jec­tion sched­ules and clin­i­cians can see at how some­one has been fol­low­ing the regime.

Apart from be­ing smart, the HealthBea­con bin also looks smart. The HealthBea­con bin is neat and dis­creet and con­stantly dis­plays the user’s ad­her­ence score to en­sure pa­tient in­volve­ment in their own care.

“Smart med­i­cal de­vices have been shown to im­prove ad­her­ence by 27 per cent and with pa­tient em­pow­er­ment as our top pri­or­ity we have de­vel­oped a de­vice that has led to wide ac­cep­tance of HealthBea­con by pa­tients as part of their treat­ment. Our plat­form has achieved ad­her­ence rates of be­tween 75 and 90 per cent which is well above av­er­age,” says chief ex­ec­u­tive Jim Joyce.

Joyce and his co-founder, CTO Kieran Daly, are no strangers to health­care star­tups. Joyce is also the founder of Point of Care Health Ser­vices and a di­rec­tor of Health XL, a global plat­form for dig­i­tal health col­lab­o­ra­tion. Daly has more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in merg­ing technology

Jim Joyce, chief ex­ec­u­tive of HealthBea­con, with CTO Kieran Daly

and health­care and is the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of wear­ables technology com­pany Shim­mer.

“The orig­i­nal idea came from me and we be­gan work­ing on pro­to­types in 2013,” Joyce says. “About a year later we had a de­vice ready to pi­lot and ran a pi­lot in Ire­land fol­lowed by a full com­mer­cial launch in 2016. This in turn led to a global pi­lot and we are now sell­ing in seven Euro­pean coun­tries and Canada. Ap­proval for the US mar­ket will be next. We hope to start sell­ing there in quar­ter one 2018.”

In­vest­ment has been in ex­cess of €3 milli on,with fund­ing from an­gel in­vestors, En­ter­prise Ire­land and pri­vate eq­uity com­pa­nies Oys­ter Cap­i­tal Part­ners and Elk­stone. HealthBea­con em­ploys 17 peo­ple and has of­fices in Bos­ton, Mon­treal and San Paolo.

HealthBea­con’s pri­mary tar­get mar­ket is pharma com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing in­jectable drugs. They will lease the bins from HealthBea­con and pro­vide them to pa­tients free of charge.

Joyce be­lieves the prod­uct meets a real need. “We have good con­nec­tions within the health­care and pharma sec­tors and were able to get right to the heart of what a de­vice to im­prove ad­her­ence should be like. Then we ad­dressed the is­sue of how it should look be­cause tra­di­tional sharps bins were never de­signed for home use. By work­ing with Ir­ish com­pany De­sign Part­ners we were able to come up with a de­sign that does not look out of place in a mod­ern home and meets an un­ful­filled clin­i­cal need. In­ject­ing one­self is not in­tu­itive. Many peo­ple need help to take their med­i­ca­tion on time and as pre­scribed.”

The Smart Sharps Sys­tem is HealthBea­con’s first prod­uct but will not be its last. “Our slo­gan is ‘smart tools for man­ag­ing med­i­ca­tion’ and we will launch a prod­uct for pills in 2018 and ex­pect to grow to a port­fo­lio of five or six tools in due course,” Joyce says.

HealthBea­con has de­vel­oped what it be­lieves to be the world’s first smart sharps sys­tem to help pa­tients who self-in­ject med­i­ca­tion

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