A Dublin firm leads mobile revolution in healthcare appointment management, writes Trish Dromey.
By the end of 2105 over one million people across the UK and Ireland will have booked medical appointments with the click of a button, using software developed by Dublin company swiftQueue.
The first Irish company to enter the online healthcare appointments software space, swiftQueue now sells to the six largest hospitals in Dublin and to 30 clinics run by six NHS National Trusts across the UK.
Recently in receipt of €550,000 in funding from Kernel Capital and Enterprise Ireland, the company has built up its team to 11 and is now making plans to expand sales in Ireland and the UK and pursue new leads in Canada and the Middle East.
“We doubled sales in 2014 and expect to do so again in 2015. We now have a pipeline of over €1 million of projects and are targeting a turnover of €5m by 2018,” says company co-founder and CEO Brendan Casey.
He says that in the age of smartphones and tablets that there are clear advantages both for patients and hospitals in enabling people to make or reschedule appointments at any time.
“The key benefits are that it improves communication with patients and operational efficiency by reducing waiting times and non attendance rates,” he says.
Setting up the company at the Tralee Technology Park in April 2011, Mr Casey was joined by fellow software developer Declan Donohoe.
Each of them had 15 years industry experience and two previous company start-ups under their belts.
Deciding to collaborate on a new project, they identified the scope for disruption in the area of healthcare appointments.
“There were innovations in this space in Australia, Canada and the US, but nothing in Ireland. We saw an opportunity to develop a flexible, cost-effective and easy to deploy product which we could offer on a software as a service basis,” he says.
Within seven months of setting up they had both a product and a first customer, a physio in Leixlip. Initially it was just the two of them, working part time using €5,000 in funding secured from the Endeavour programme.
“In 2012, we relocated to Dublin, participated in the DCU Ryan Academy programme and took on our first employees.
"By then we were selling to 100 clinics including dentists, physios and GPs — our strategy was to start small while we worked on developing our technology and building our reputation,” he explains.
A major breakthrough came in November 2012 when swiftQueue won a tender to provide online appointments for blood testing clinics at Tallaght and Peamount hospitals in Dublin.
“ This was very significant for use as a reference site and as a result we switched our focus to hospital clinics,” says Mr Casey.
Another major milestone for swiftQueue came in November 2013 when it signed it first UK NHS Trust customer which required its software to schedule 120,000 appointments in Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals in London.
“Now our customers include Beaumont Hospital, St Vincent’s, St James’s and the Mater in Ireland and the Royal Free London NHJS Foundation Trust and the George Eliot NHS Trust in the UK,” says Mr Casey.
SwiftQueue software is now used for a range of specialities in addition to blood testing. In 2014 the company became an approved supplier for appointment services for NHS GPs. The company is continuing to engage in R&D, and is working on additional modules which include patient results, electronic referrals and improving patient engagement through Mobile Apps.
SwiftQueue’s immediate goal is to gain recognition as the appointment platform of choice in Ireland and the UK.
“We plan to expand outside of Dublin and are talking to hospitals around the country and also to grow the business in the UK market which now accounts for 66% of sales,” Mr Casey says.
The company has also been approached by potential partners in Canada and the Middle East and is now negotiating distribution deals in those markets. Mr Casey sees scope for international growth.
“Our point of differentiation is that we can offer speed, flexibility and ease of use – we believe we can compete successfully,” he says.
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