Monday 22 January 2018

How health service took off

Mark McCloskey tells Sean Gallagher a hospital stay and in-flight entertainment gave him his big startup idea

Mark McCloskey and Sean Gallagher at Oneview HQ. Photo: David Conachy
Mark McCloskey and Sean Gallagher at Oneview HQ. Photo: David Conachy
Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher

The healthcare sector is constantly in the news and very often for the wrong reasons. From long waiting lists and chronic bed shortages, to trolleys in corridors, the demand for more and better services in our hospitals continues.

Add to this, the constant pressure on doctors and nurses as a result of staff shortages and budgetary constraints and the challenges in our healthcare system begin to look almost insurmountable.

However, if you have ever spent time in one of our many hospitals, you will no doubt have seen first-hand how inefficient many of the current practices are and how these could be improved through fresh thinking and innovative approaches.

It was during one such spell in hospital that this week's entrepreneur, Dubliner Mark McCloskey, decided that, rather than complain about what was wrong with the health service, he would develop a system to help improve it.

Set up in 2008 and now operating in hospitals across Ireland, Australia, the US and Middle East, Oneview Healthcare now employs 150 staff and has already achieved over €5m in revenue for the first half of 2016. This year saw them becoming the first Irish company ever to list on the Australian Securities Exchange - raising over $62m in the process.

I met up with Mark at his global headquarters in Blackrock, Co Dublin as he was preparing to take part in this year's final of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

"Oneview is a software-based platform that is literally revolutionising the healthcare system," he says. "Initially our idea was to provide a comprehensive system of communication and entertainment at the patient's bedside that would include everything from phone, email, Skype and social media to TV on-demand, movies, streaming services and gaming for children.

"However, we quickly expanded that concept and today our technology integrates with a hospital's own information system to provide doctors, nurses and other health care professionals with a single point of access to information such as a patient's medical records and their drug administration and treatment profiles.

"Doctors can now attend a patient's bedside and instantly call up that patient's radiology results on any number of devices, such as a TV screens, tablet or smart phone. Integrated into the nurse-call system, patients can now select if they want either medical attention or are simply looking for a drink of water in which case their request is directed to a care assistant leaving the nurse free to concentrate on more medical matters. "

Other features allow patients to plan their arrival at hospital better and staff to monitor whether they are changing dressings or taking medication after they have left.

In only eight years, the company has grown to become a global success and will soon be live in six of the top 15 acute hospitals in the US, as well as the Middle East and Australia.

While it is achieving great success, it's a journey that has not been without its challenges.

McCloskey, grew up in Balally, Sandyford. After school, he emigrated to the UK where he spent the next five years before returning to Ireland in 1988 when he took up a job selling advertisements for the Golden Pages. His reputation as their best-performing sales executive led to him being offered a sales role with Esat Telecom. When the company was later sold to BT, he was approached by the founder of Easycash, Mark Roden, to help set up his new business installing ATMs in non-bank locations around the country. This business was later sold to Royal Bank of Scotland, where Mark remained for a further two years.

"The idea for Oneview Healthcare came about when I was in hospital recovering from knee surgery," he says. "I was in a room with three other patients and one guy kept hoarding the remote for the TV, meaning we all had to watch whatever he wanted.

"While the care was great, many of the hospital processes seemed inefficient, with staff constantly asking me the very same questions.

"Soon after being discharged, I was on a flight and wondered how come I was having a much better experience with the in-flight entertainment system, 30,000 feet up, than I had in my hospital room. Before I landed, the basic idea for Oneview Healthcare had been formed.

"Because I was neither a healthcare nor software expert, I turned to a few friends who worked in the sector. Based on their feedback, I recruited two developers and together we built our new software platform." Mark and his wife Niamh then took the courageous decision to invest all of his life savings in the project as well as re-mortgaging their family home. While the economic downturn made it a challenging time, Mark never lost heart and with Enterprise Ireland's support, identified global markets where spend on healthcare was continuing - the US, the Middle East and Australia.

"We eventually found a number of innovative hospitals that saw the merits of our solution and while entertainment provided the initially foundation for Oneview, we quickly began to develop a solution that could demonstrate compelling benefits for both hospitals."

In the run-up to Christmas 2012, Mark and Niamh were forced to sell both their cars to pay staff wages. But their determination and sacrifices paid off when they landed three major contracts in the US and Australia.

With the need for funds now urgent, Mark had a chance meeting with James Fitter (an experience corporate financier and now chief executive of the company), who helped raise over €30m.

"On St Patrick's Day of this year, we became the first Irish company ever to trade on the Australian Securities Exchange - raising $62.4m," he added. "This investment has allowed us to build out a world-class team and an experienced advisory board."

Looking to the future, Mark is upbeat about what he sees as the potential of the healthcare market globally. "We are focused now on continued growth and are looking at new markets such as Asia where we will soon open a new office.

"We also see huge potential in the assisted living and senior living markets and have just recently signed contracts in this sector in both the US and Australia."

Having identified a need based on his own experience, he went on to develop a world-class product and company. Like most successful entrepreneurs, he hasn't been afraid to dream big.

Meeting him serves as a reminder that success often comes from being prepared to risk more than others think is safe and to dream more than other people is practical.

For Further information:

Mark's advice for other businesses

1 Don't be afraid to hire people smarter than yourself

"Don't make the mistake of wanting to be the smartest person in the company. To be successful, hire the best people and be willing to learn from them. You don't have to be the expert in everything - but hiring people who are smarter than you in their disciplines will fast-track your own success."

2 Remove the word distraction from your vocabulary

"To achieve success you have to learn how to set goals. This means becoming laser-focused and being prepared to give your heart and soul to what you are doing. Avoid being distracted by too many opportunities - instead seize only those that take you in the direction you want to go."

3 Keep a close eye on your competition

"Study what they are doing and where you can achieve a competitive advantage over them. In a crowded marketplace, you want your customers to be happier than those of your competitors so that they become your best sales force.

Sunday Indo Business

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