Empowering transplant patients to manage their care

Irish Health Innovators: Eamonn Costello

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. Costello and his fiancé (now wife) moved back to Dublin, where he 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,” Costello 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. He 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 Costello's idea began with his father's illness and, when Bill died in 2014, he 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.”


Preventative healthcare

The mobile platform patientMpower for Lung Transplant 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 bluetooth connected to an app on their phone. 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, it undertakes much of their clinical validation work here in Ireland, with Costello 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-focused healthcare delivery, Costello and the team have developed a portfolio of products that empower patients through personalised remote care – which is surely the future of healthcare globally. Despite much of their portfolio being researched and developed in Ireland, tested in Ireland, the patientMpower for Lung Transplant is unavailable to actively treat patients in the Irish system, outside of trial parameters.