A healthy business idea

A LOCAL man is progressing two business ideas with potential to provide jobs and improved health for both Kilkenny and Ireland.

A LOCAL man is progressing two business ideas with potential to provide jobs and improved health for both Kilkenny and Ireland.

The man in question is Joe Dalton, and for one of his ideas he has won the e25,000 ‘Giving A Start’ competition run by the business centre 11 Patrick Street to encourage entrepreneurs to start their own business.

The idea behind Mr Dalton’s business is to help people “Stay Well, Stay Home”. People will be able to subscribe to a TV- or computer-based service that will help them monitor health conditions such as diabetes and heart trouble at home rather than relying only on GP or hospital visits.

Called Intelleheath, the service would first see the person visit a GP, who would prescribe a care plan with instructions to measure their blood pressure once a day, weight themselves twice a week, etc. The measurements would be entered into the software, and when the person goes for regular GP visits, their day-to-day records would be at hand.

The service, which is due to be launched this summer, would also monitor the person’s data to pick up on any dangerous trends or anomalies. It will include educational videos and support groups, and it can address areas such as mental health and holistic therapies.

Mr Dalton is at an advanced stage of discussions with a major multinational company to deliver the service, and after developing it in Ireland his aim is then to export it.

“A lot of the focus will be on prevention, keeping people out of hospital,” said Mr Dalton, whose background includes a PhD in electrical electronic engineering. He worked for Intel for 12 years, including five years in the company’s innovation centre working on health-care technology.

Intellehealth “will be a support for the traditional doctor-patient relationship, not an emergency life-line to replace 999,” he emphasised.

His idea was inspired in part by the circumstances of his mother’s death about a decade ago. “She lived in an old cottage and was dead for three days before I found her. It dawned on me at the time – this is mad in this day and age,” he said.

It also comes at a time of skyrocketing health costs worldwide, an ageing global population and escalating numbers of people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. And it coincides with the Government’s aim to move health services more into the community and out of hospitals.

Worldwide hub

Meanwhile, Mr Dalton is also developing a business plan to establish Ireland as a hub for international health-care services. Called the International Healthcare Services Centre (IHSC), it would be a sort of International Financial Services Centre for the health sector.

Based in Dublin, it would have the potential to employ 5,000 people and already has support from a team of professional advisers who have come on board on a no-fee basis. He entered the proposal into last year’s Your Company, Your Call competition and was shortlisted into the 10 finalists; and he says it has been endorsed by IDA Ireland.

“This is mainly about getting companies to set up here and selling Ireland as a health-care services hub,” he said.

Why Ireland? Because it is already a centre for medical devices, ICT, pharma/biotech and financial services, Mr Dalton said. “If it happened somewhere else in 10 years, we would say, ‘How did we let that one slip? We had all of the pieces’.”