Irish technology firm Tracworx has developed a wifi Wi-Fi patient-tracking system to help hospitals in their bid to tackle Covid-19.
The Tracworx patient-tracking system uses existing wifi networks in hospitals, allowing healthcare facilities to automate their data collection and generate reports using real-time data. The Limerick company has been quick repurpose its technology to meet the immediate challenges mounted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We typically sell wifi-based patient tracking systems for the purposes of optimising efficiency,” said Chris Kelly, CEO, Tracworx.
“Given the challenge presented by Covid-19, we are offering a repurposed version of our product to help with social distancing and tracing back where contacts have been indoors,” he said.
“Before Covid-19, we were focused on using patient data to improve efficiencies and to streamline processes. This product is now being offered to hospitals and organisations alike to help safely operate in these challenging times.”
While the Tracworx technology is available as a mobile phone app, some patients prefer not to download smartphone apps. Tracworx offers the hospitals and patients the ability to choose.
Of course, hospitals have also used several other tech modes in the past to address this problem, but with different challenges. For example, tech such as Bluetooth or RFID (radio frequency identification), which use electromagnetic fields to track the location of devices such as tags. Most other tracking systems have required investment in new infrastructure within the hospital, such as the installation of masts.
The disruption that this causes in hospitals can be an even bigger deterrent than the cost.
“Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge for hospitals,” said Chris Kelly: “Contact tracing in the hospital environment has become a top priority to protect frontline staff and patients.
“Our core product is a wifi-based tracking technology which gives the hospitals complete transparency over where their patients have been, which can directly support this contact-tracing effort.”
Tracworx was established in 2016 by college students Chris Kelly (CEO), Fionn Barron (COO) and Eoin O’Brien (CTO). The company has extended its operations into the UK and has plans in the near future to expand further into the European market.
All Tracworx’s suppliers are Irish-based: Wazp in Tralee provide device enclosures; SteriPack, Mullingar (also device enclosures); RTR, Limerick (electronics); and Penn, Waterford (furniture — charging cabinets).
The advent of Covid-19 has impacted upon this ambitious startup, but it has not dampened the optimism of its founders.
“With all startups, there they are always hurdles,” said sad Chris Kelly. “You don’t plan for a pandemic, but we feel that if we can adapt to this challenge, then there’s nothing that we can’t overcome.
“These are very challenging times, but I am very pleased that our great team has adapted and modified our products to meet the immediate demands. I am confident that we will come up with solutions for every challenge we face in the future.”
Tracworx also gained a big boost last year when it won the top prize in InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition.
InterTradeIreland is currently seeking applicants for this year’s competition.
Tracworx is urging other startups to take advantage of what the Seedcorn competition has to offer. Tracworx used its Seedcorn funding to develop its new patient tracking system.
“Seedcorn has allowed us to take our business to the next level,” said Chris Kelly.
“From the refinement of our investment documentation and pitching skills, to the exposure — both publicly. and in the start-up and investment communities, it has been transformational to our business, and I would urge other firms to get involved.”
“With the support of Seedcorn, we’ve also been able to expand on our current product to offer a mobile based version of this application to allow healthcare providers to match the location history of a confirmed COVID-19 carrier with other users. This directly helps with the challenge of remembering where an individual has been for the last two weeks.”
Seedcorn participants, who are in with a chance to win a share of a €280,000 cash prize fund, can secure expert feedback on their business plans and pitches, improve their investor readiness, and gain exposure to investors.
Companies benefiting from Seedcorn have come from many sectors, including advanced manufacturing, technology, sport, finance, medical devices, and diagnostics.
Since the competition’s inception in 2003, more than 3,100 companies have been through the programme. and finalists have raised in excess of €256m.
Shane O’Hanlon, Funding for Growth manager, InterTradeIreland, said: “Now, more than ever, in the uncertain times we find ourselves, start-up and early stage business need help and support to secure investment.
“The funding environment is especially challenging for every business right now, and new companies are at a critical and vulnerable stage of development.
“Entrepreneurs have shown their ingenuity and resilience over the decades, and we are confident that with the right support, despite the current crisis, they will rise to the many obstacles they face.
“Seedcorn’s team of experts can give entrepreneurs priceless insight and feedback to set them on the right track.”
A series of online Seedcorn workshops will be held in the coming weeks to provide those considering applying with advice on preparation of video clips, presentation slide decks and business plans.
The initial applications deadline is 1pm on Friday, May 29. See: www.InterTradeIreland.com for more information.