Irish Times series: Irish Health Innovators: Eamonn Costello, patientMpower

Opinion piece | Posted on: 14 May, 2019

Working with Health Innovation Hub Ireland, we are lucky to meet people from Irish healthcare start-ups to people on the front line that are truly innovative. Damian Cullen, the Irish Times Health Editor has agreed to share some of these in a new series ‘Irish Health Innovators’, by HIHI Dublin Manager, Eimear Galvin. Below is the second in this series.

Irish health innovator 2: Eamonn Costello, patientMpower

Eamonn Costello started his career as a telecoms engineer. A move to London brought fresh opportunities and after a time he moved into working with early stage start-ups, though healthcare was not a space where he saw himself. This changed when in 2012 his father Bill was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Eamonn and his fiancé (now wife) moved back to Dublin, where Eamon spent almost a year taking care of his father, much of that time spent in hospitals.

“His medication regimen would frequently change after a two week cycle – but within a two week cycle, your medication changed day by day”, Eamonn explains. This made care challenging and confusing so there was no other option than to visit the hospital for everything, even if it seemed small, just in case. Eamon saw first-hand the huge burden in the acute hospital space that can be reduced with the right support to empower patients and enable remote condition management.

The germ of Eamonn’s idea began with his father’s illness and when Bill died in 2014, Eamonn set up patientmPower with Kerril Thornhill, quickly joined by Colin Edwards who brought significant clinical experience to the company. Active in a number of therapy areas including lung and kidney disease their stand out product is a connected lung spirometer. Spirometry is a type of pulmonary function test (PFT), a non-invasive procedure that provides important information about how well the lungs are working.

“People who have undergone a lung transplant have to adapt to a whole new world where even air quality can affect their recovery.  We empower people after their lung transplant to better manage their treatment and care and enable lung transplant specialists to reliably monitor their patients’ progress remotely.”

‘patientMpower for Lung Transplant’ is the mobile platform which enables patients to keep track of everything relating to their health after a transplant and share this information with their healthcare team in real time. The aim is to remove physical clinical monitoring as much as possible. The patient has a spirometer, which they blow into that is blue tooth connected to an app on their phone. The functionality is so precise that a participant in a validation trial in Texas was able to notice early lung transplant rejection and receive the right care in the right time.

Based in Dublin’s Digital Hub, PaietntmPower undertakes a significant amount of their clinical validation work here in Ireland, with Eamonn citing Beaumont, the Mater and Galway as exceptional sites for their research, testing and product development work. However, in terms of market share and growth Eamonn sees the company continuing to target US and UK markets.  “The fact is that the Irish healthcare funding and reimbursement model does not encourage our type of solutions. In the US, there is value placed on avoiding hospitalisation that we do not currently have in Ireland. Preventative healthcare is not practiced or value based.”

From personal experience of hospital focussed healthcare delivery Eamonn and the PateintmPower team have developed a portfolio of products that empower patients through personalised remote care – which is the future of healthcare globally. Much of their portfolio is researched and developed in Ireland, tested in Ireland, with Irish patients and proven results in an Irish clinical setting. Yet the patientMpower for Lung Transplant’ is still unavailable to actively treat patients in the Irish system, outside of trial parameters.

Originally published in the Irish Times, May 14, as part of the ‘Irish Health Innovators’ series by HIHI Dublin Manger, Eimear Galvin