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MedTech Startup Elemental - using Tech to improve community healthcare

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by Startacus Admin

Northern Ireland Startup Co-Founders Leeann Monk and Jennifer Neff of MedTech Startup Elemental are just back from Barcelona after attending last week's Mobile World Congress. Fresh off the plane we took this opportunity to catch up with Elementalboth ladies to find out more about their digital health startup, their journey over the last 12 months and their experience of the Mobile World Congress itself.

We understand that you are just back from the Mobile World Congress - how was the experience?

One word…AMAZING. 93,000 people over a 4 day period. We never thought we would be catapulted into the heart of Europe at this stage in growing our business as winners of the European Connected Health Alliance Investor Challenge 2016. It gave us the chance to take to the stage and pitch Elemental to potential investors and decision makers in public health from not only Europe but the rest of the world. We had nearly lost our voices by the end of the week having spoken with so many people.

MedTech Startup Elemental

What was the motivation for going?

Having read about last year's Congress we knew we wanted to attend and then Wayne Murphy, from Startplanet, told us about the opportunity created by European Connected Health Alliance to enter a competition ‘Investors Challenge’, that would not just get us there as delegates but would mean we were speakers.   

Talk us through Elemental - who is it for and what problem does it solve?

Elemental is social prescription technology that not only enables healthcare professionals to refer patients but also track and measure connections between people with health risks to community based activities like walking groups, healthy eating courses and meditation classes. It has been dubbed the of healthcare.

MedTech startup Elemental

And do you have a practical example of where Elemental has worked? 

We built a prototype with thanks to Techstart NI funding, designed a study in partnership with Dr Karen Kirby at Ulster University and launched it in the Creggan Community in Derry City in partnership with The Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre. It was a 12 week pilot trial with people all with a high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

The trial involved using our software combined with a diabetes prevention education programme. The results were not only impressive, but life changing for some of the 70 participants.  The study showed that the trial significantly reduced the risk of type 2 Diabetes, not only that there was also a reduction in anxiety and depression levels.  One participant in particular lost an amazing 4 stone within the 12 weeks of the programme and we are delighted to hear that since the pilot he has gone on to lose a further 2 stone.

Sounds like an amazing journey you have been on - talk us through your experience of the last 12 months?

Leeann MonkSince the results of the study were published a number of Commissioning Groups from across the UK have proposed to license our software for collaborative networks responsible for reducing health risks in cities suffering from Chronic Conditions.

We were recently selected as one of the Top 20 startup companies in Northern Ireland for Propel, a programme supporting those with the greatest potential to scale and export. Locally we are working with a prominent community health network to use our technology to generate health risk prevention plans for communities across NI.

We recently validated the market in the United Arab Emirates and are setting up an office there after being awarded recently as one of the top 5 female startup companies in Dubai by Dubai Business Women Council and Jennifer NeffMastercard.

We are advising Government Health Departments in Dubai and private Healthcare organisations on social prescribing and are in negotiations with a number of international employers who want to reduce employee health risks and company insurance premiums.

Talking more generally about 'Medtech' -  do you think that providing patients with so much access to data is universally beneficial or are there potentially negative impacts?

The patients own the data and they should, of course, have access to it.  The key however is packaging this data in a way that is easy to understand so the patients can make the right choices to reduce their health risks. MedTechElemental Software is all about keeping it simple to get people engaged. It doesn’t always have to be about text, text, text.  Videos, infographics and pictures are wonderful ways to educate and inform people to making a positive behavioural change in their health, promoting a culture of self-care and management. Our Health Literacy in the Community study in partnership with Magee Design at Ulster University and funded by Innovation Vouchers proved that.

Pay it forward time! Give us three people, places or spaces that have helped you on your journey!

1. European Connected Health Alliance – Brian O Connor & Damian O Connor

2. Ulster University - Dr Karen Kirby, Professor Maurice Mulvenna and Lecturer Terry Quigley and Barry Henderson (CTRIC)

3. NoribicClare McGee in particular who linked us with our mentor Aidan McGrath, through the Derry & Strabane District Council, Clinical Translational Entrepreneurship & Innovation Programme - he is now our Chairman and a shareholder in our company alongside our other shareholder and mentor, Ryan Williams, from Ally Consulting.

There will be a big Elemental Party soon where we bring them all together to thank them and have a big table tennis competition. Startacus can come along too!

Finally, and talking journeys - where do you guys aim to be in the next 12 months?

Elemental is changing the interaction between health and wellcare stakeholders creating a new model of care to best engage those most at risk.  We want to provide the software to collaborative health networks that need to refer, track and measure connections with community based interventions to reduce health risks.

There is news coming in the next few weeks which will take what we have developed so far to another level. Startacus will of course be one of the first to know how we get on.

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Published on: 3rd March 2016

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