Bedside device combines access to medical information with entertainment options

Point-of-care terminal not only gives doctors and patients access to medical records but allows patients watch video-on-demand

Wed, May 8, 2013, 09:36

It was on an Emirates flight that the idea for Oneview suddenly hit Mark McCloskey – how come he could access 500 channels of entertainment at 36,000 feet, yet when he was in hospital for an operation he was stuck sharing one TV in a ward with four others.

The entrepreneur, who had sold his Easycash business to Ulster Bank for an undisclosed sum, set about researching an entertainment solution for hospitals.

What resulted, however, was a “bedside point-of-care terminal”, that not only gave patients access to free-to-air TV and video-on-demand, but also information on their diagnosis, video conferencing, email, Skype, meal ordering and healthcare treatment.

The Oneview terminal is a bedside workstation that enables the provision of valuable information, communications and entertainment services for medical practitioners, hospital staff, administrators and patients by providing an interface to hospital IT systems at the patient’s bedside.

This service can be delivered through bedside terminals, PCs, smart phones and PC tablets. The patient can also access valuable content such as educational items at home prior to and subsequent to their hospital stay.

“Hospitals choose the hardware. They can have iPads, phones, TVs or touchscreen terminals and we provide the software. We are totally agnostic. We don’t care what the hardware is,” chief executive James Fitter says.

“A doctor can come into the ward or room and pull up MRI scans, test results, patient information or X-rays on a device by the bedside when they are making their daily rounds. The patients can also access information about their condition on the monitor and learn about it.”

The Oneview terminal also provides multi-lingual support allowing doctors and patients who speak different languages to communicate with each other, and medical records.

“For example, a Puerto Rican nurse could communicate to a Russian patient through the system easily.”

The company was founded in 2007, but it was only in the last six months that the directors really began seeing the fruits of their labour, according to McCloskey.

“We spent the previous five years researching the market in detail – during which time we discovered out competitors in the field were either TV-based or telephony companies.

“Rather than have bedside screens or tablets that just provided entertainment, we did integration of clinical records and educational videos. All of our competitors just concentrated on entertainment.”

After discovering most hospitals use Windows applications, the company decided to develop its solution using Windows also, to allow for seamless integration. The electronic health records, drug dispensing, hospital information systems, are all Windows systems, according to Fitter.

“We chose to develop in Windows, so everytime we put our software in we have to pay Bill Gates $89. Hospitals all use Windows applications though,” Fitter says.

The healthcare company, whose solutions are already in use on four continents, recently signed a deal to provide its solution to the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.

The news follows HP selecting the company as partner of choice to deliver patient infotainment as part of its global digital hospital programme.

However, it took an investment believed to me in the region of €5 million before the company was able to get to market.

Positive response
“I met Mark at a dinner party through mutual friends last June. I discovered the IT sector was starved of venture capital. I wanted to marry my investment experience with IT start-ups so came on board,” Fitter says.

Fitter had previously spent 25 years in the financial services industry, being appointed as the managing director of Deutsche Bank in 1998, and global head of emerging market equities in 2001. He subsequently founded and managed an independent asset management company in Dubai from 2006 to 2009.

“I realised Mark’s company balance sheet was causing problems. The response was universally positive from hospitals. They loved his product but not his balance sheet. There was too much debt on his balance sheet and when you are supplying software on a five-year contract they need to know you will still be around in five years.”

“Mark had beaten Siemens and IBM in a tender for a hospital in Melbourne. He sent his balance sheet through and they rejected him as a result. They feared he would be out of business in 12 months.”

With the help of Fitter, the company raised money and bought the debt back from the banks so it could have an unencumbered balance sheet.

McCloskey quickly realised he was going to have to become export-orientated if he wanted the company to be a success.

Middle east market
“It is a serious investment for hospitals to make. Hospitals are very committee- based to it takes a long time for decisions to be made.

“The health system in Ireland doesn’t have any money. We realised we had to go outside Ireland if we were going to make any money.”

Fitter says their next mission is to conquer the Japanese and Saudi markets.

Japan has the highest concentration of hospital beds in the world, with 1.7 million. In 2014-2015 we hope to get into the Japanese market.”

The company also recently entered the Middle East market, having won the contract for two hospitals in Riyadh.

“Saudi and Australia are similar-sized countries. They both have 25 million people but Saudi is expanding quicker. The Ministry for Health there is building 132 hospitals over the next four years.”

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