The app that delivers what doctor ordered

Innerstrength’s app allows health professionals deliver exercise programmes for their patients, writes Trish Dromey.

Harnessing the power of technology, Dublin start-up Innerstrength Health has created a platform and a smartphone app which it says health professionals can use to prescribe and deliver physical exercise programmes to help patients manage medical conditions.

The company’s first product, TickerFit, delivers exercise and education programmes via smartphone to patients who are living with cardiovascular disease or recovering from a cardiac event.

Released late last year, it is now being used in a small number of private clinics in Ireland and in some HSE projects and the company expects to have its first UK sale in May.

This month, Innerstrength has been awarded €550,000 in funding by a NHS-funded programme to develop its second product, Hacka Health, an online platform which will be used by doctors to devise personalised exercise and treatment programmes for young people and children suffering from cystic fibrosis.

Innerstrength CEO and co-founder Avril Copland, says her company, which she set up in 2013, is one of a small number of companies in this space to have developed a product for cardiology.

It came about after Ms Copeland, while working as a physiotherapist, identified what she saw as a gaping need for technology that could be used by health professionals to help patients manage their conditions and their recovery after a hospital stay.

“At best all I could offer patients who had gone through a life-changing event such as a heart attack was a generic leaflet about how best to recover and manage their condition,” she said.

In 2013 she gave up her job, took her idea and validated it by winning a hackathon event.

Securing €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding from Enterprise Ireland in 2014, she found a developer and designer to help her create a minimum viable product — a platform and an app which could be used to prescribe personalised treatment programmes.

In 2014, technologist and former chief architect of Map Flow, Greg Balmer, came on board as CTO and co-founder.

The company had initially been working on a product for primary care prevention but at this point switched to developing one for secondary care prevention, specifically for cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

Ms Copeland said this happened when she identified an opportunity to use Innerstrength’s technology to support the delivery of cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

She says this offered the company a sustainable business model because the solution offers tangible benefits.

“Adhering to cardiac rehab programmes has been shown to reduce readmission by 56%. This makes TickerFit attractive to health insurance companies and hospitals as well as cardiac patients and their health professionals,” she said.

During 2016 Ms Copeland secured a place on UK accelerator programme Velocity Health which provided her with €80,000 in funding which was used on trialing the platform and app in hospitals in Ireland and the UK.

Securing €500,000 from a mix of private investment and High Potential Start up funding from Enterprise Ireland at the end of last year allowed the company, which is based at Herbert Place in Dublin, to take on three employees and bring the staff number up to five.

“We expect to have our first sale to a hospital in the UK in May,”said Ms Copeland, who has already made contact with hospitals and clinics in the UK, as well as the US where it plans to launch in 2019.

Receiving a further €550,000 NHS funded Small Business Research Initiative this month, to develop Hacka Health, has been a major boost for the company.

Ms Copeland says the initial focus is on a programme for cystic fibrosis but the long-term aim is to devise a solution which will reduce the burden of care on children and young people living with a range of long-term conditions.

Immediate plans for Innerstrength include the recruitment of two additional staff and Ms Copeland expects the number to grow to 10 by the end of the year.

“Our target turnover for 2018 is €750,000 and we are well on the way to achieving that. In 2019, we plan to start the year with a Series A funding round which will enable us to scale within the UK and US,” she said.


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