Healthy start for software product

A Co Galway company, founded to provide a software product to analyse and interpret patients’ blood tests, is entering the British market and is anticipated to achieve turnover of €20m by 2020, writes Trish Dromey

Galway company Full Health Medical is entering the British market with an innovative software product which analyses and interprets blood tests and makes recommendations for corrective action to patients.

Targeting health screening companies and primary healthcare centres, the product was launched last year and is currently being used by five medical practices around the country, as well as health screening company Healthwatch, which is part of the Biomnis group.

The need for this product was identified by company co-founder and medical director Ann Shortt while she was working in an accident and emergency department and noticed that patients frequently did not understand test results and failed to act upon them.

“She realised there was a major problem when she diagnosed a young patient one Christmas Eve with a very poor outcome, but who could have been entirely cured if she had been treated earlier,” says Ms Shortt’s husband, company chief executive and co-founder Paul McCarthy.

Dr Shortt subsequently retrained as a GP and, in 2009, set up a service offering detailed reports on blood test results to patients.

This proved popular, although it was time-consuming and expensive.

But the information contained in the reports, including the analysis, interpretation, and recommendations, provided a foundation that the couple were able to use to develop new software.

A business advisor with Teagasc and previously a presenter of the RTÉ series Higher Ground, Mr McCarthy took a career break to set up the company in May 2011.

Securing a feasibility study grant from the South-West Mayo Leader group, the couple identified a developer to turn the model into working software. In 2011, Mr McCarthy enrolled in the Endeavour start-up programme in Tralee IT and began working on a business plan and business model.

“We had thought of this as something which could sell in Ireland, but it was at this point we realised this was something which could sell globally,” says Mr McCarthy. “We also realised that the technology wasn’t just relevant for primary care but also for screening clinics, laboratories, corporate screening companies, and health insurers worldwide.”

Mr McCarthy believes that the product developed by Full Health Medical is one of the most comprehensive on the market.

“It can be offered by clinics or doctors’ practices,” he says. “A patient makes an appointment online, fills in a questionnaire about lifestyle and medical history and gets the test done by a nurse, who reviews the questionnaire information. This generates a report which interprets the test results and makes recommendations, which are sent to the patient after being approved by the doctor.”

He says the use of technology makes this type of service more affordable, accessible and, ultimately, saves time and money.

“Charges vary depending on the service provider.

“Typical prices range from €75 to €300 for a more extensive range of tests.”

The product was trialed by five practices in 2011 and launched on the market in Aug 2012 with the signing of a contract with Healthwatch. Supported by Enterprise Ireland, Full Medical received €50,000 in Competitive Start funding in late 2011 and was identified as a high potential start-up in 2012.

Mr McCarthy says that in the region of €1m has been invested in the company since inception “In December 2012, we closed a funding round of €400,000, half of which came from private investment and half from Enterprise Ireland.”

Employing a staff of five, the company received €20,000 when it won the Connacht/Leinster region of InterTrade Ireland’s Seedcorn competition in 2012.

Although the software was originally designed with GPs in mind, the company has found the biggest interest is coming from large health screening providers, many of which are being used by multinationals to provide health screening for their employees.

“The use of technology can substantially reduce costs for screening providers, which often carry out over 100,000 screenings a year,” said Mr McCarthy.

The Full Health Medical software has been licensed to Healthwatch and is being trialled by Laya Healthcare. This month, the company exhibited at the Health and Wellbeing at Work exhibition in Birmingham.

“We see huge opportunities in the UK to supply private hospitals and the corporate sector,” said Mr McCArthy. “The UK health screening market is worth £1.4bn (€1.64bn) and has over 60 specialist providers of health screening, which we can target.”

Full Health is one of a group of Irish companies which will pitch for US investment in Silicon Valley in May. Mr McCarthy says in the medium-term, Full Health will look at the US market, where the preventative health technology market is worth €16bn.

“For now, our focus is on the UK and Ireland,” says Mr McCarthy. “Our aim is to sign five large providers by the end of the year and hopefully to start a trial with the NHS or the HSE.”

He believes the company has the potential to achieve turnover of €20m by 2020.


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