As a global top five medical technology hub, Ireland boasts some of the most innovative medtech start-ups in the world.
While much of the sector focuses on sales to other life sciences organisations – from clinics to physical performance centres – a significant number sell to consumers.
In a world where the knowledge gap is constantly shrinking and consumers are taking ever-greater responsibility for their wellbeing, the size of the B2C medtech market is likely to increase. Among those blazing the trail will be these four Irish medtech companies.
TippyTalk is an app that helps non-verbal children to communicate with caregivers.
Created by Rob Laffan, whose daughter has non-verbal autism, the TippyTalk app allows its user to select a customised picture which corresponds to their desire, want, need or feeling. The app then translates that picture into a text message, which is sent to the phone of a family member or caregiver.
Moving beyond traditional face-to-face solutions, TippyTalk is the only platform that allows users to instantly communicate with anyone, anywhere, at any time.
“At TippyTalk, to date, we’re the only ones who are focusing on an ‘out-of-room’ approach to non-verbal communications,” Rob explained, in a recent interview with The Irish Advantage.
“All the other solutions out there mean you’ve got to be in the same room as the person you’re communicating with, which is very limiting – not to mention out of step with today’s connected world.”
A version of the product is available for the educational and professional care markets, TippyTalk EDU. Boasting two-way communication, it can also provide data-driven insights for students and clients.
According to founder Dr Johnny Walker, Jinga Life gets its unique name from the name of an African warrior queen – a defender and protector of the people.
The cloud-based platform allows a user to store whole-of-life health records for their entire family, which is essential not only for record-keeping, but also for medical professionals who increasingly use big data to inform their decisions.
The ‘Jinga’, the primary caregiver in the home, can store important health information and documentation like prescriptions, vaccination records, or test results and digital images such as scans and X-rays. They can also keep track of doctor’s appointments and even connect their wearables, all on a secure, mobile and easily accessible platform.
Technology has often been blamed for declining attention spans in younger generations – or at the very least, creating additional problems for those with pre-existing neurological conditions – with gaming in particular singled out for criticism.
However, the problem may also hold the key to the solution. Driven by a desire to improve the lives of children with attention deficits, Áine Behan and the Cortechs team combined neuroscience and brainwave technologies to develop brain-powered play that can permanently improve attention regulation skills.
Zip and the Misty Mountain is a hands-free computer game for six- to 12-year-olds where the player uses their brainwaves, with the help of a ‘Neurosky’ headset, to play the game. The more they stay in the attentive zone, the further they progress.
“What we do challenges the traditional health delivery models by using gaming and brainwaves as a ‘digital medicine’ based means of prescribing better behaviors,” Áine explains.
“We are creating consumer facing solutions to treat the symptoms of ADHD in a digital cost-effective manner.”
Neurofeedback such as this is proven to alleviate the core symptoms of ADHD and is recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics as the ‘best support’ non-pharmacological treatment option for children with ADHD.
When you don’t feel up to a trip to the GP’s surgery, Webdoctor provides a safe and affordable online GP service available anytime, anywhere. Patients can book an appointment using the iOS app or website to consult with a doctor, face-to-face, using state of the art secure video.
They also offer a home testing service for common health issues, and can fax prescriptions straight to your pharmacy when time is of the essence.
Webdoctor launched in 2014 and was an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-up. They have partnered with health insurance company Laya Healthcare to provide their CareOnCall service, and have plans to expand into Europe and the US.
When tuberculosis wiped out a herd of cattle on Martin O’Connell’s family farm in Ireland’s County Kerry, he had the idea of developing a preventative filter to block bacteria before they reach cows’ lungs. Realising the potential for a similar device for human use, O’Connell founded Nasal Medical in 2014 with Keith Yager.
The team’s focus on strong product design resulted in patented, novel and effective medical devices, such as the Discreet Snoring Aid, which has been shown to significantly reduce snoring in 9 out of 10 patients, and the recently launched Allergy Nasal Filter, which offers a drug-free solution for allergy sufferers.
Innovation and a customer-centred approach have turned Nasal Medical’s unlikely beginnings on a family farm into an Irish medtech success story.