Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 – 2017

Aoife Ní Mhuirí/Salaso Health Solutions

 

Healthcare professional and businesswoman Aoife Ní Mhuirí is a native Irish speaker. So is our regular contributor Sharon Ní Chonchúir. When they met, they spoke to each other as Gaeilge. Here’s what they discussed, in Irish for those of you who can read it and in English translation below for those who can’t.

 

Deireann gach éinne go bhfuil siad gnóthach na laethanta seo, ach nuair a deireann Aoife Ní Mhuirí é, creidim í. Is léacthóir fisiteiripe in Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Thráighlí í an bhean seo as Conamara. Tá ceathrar clainne aici chomh maith le a gnó féin.

Gnó is ea Salaso Health Solutions a bhaineann úsáid as féidireachtaí na teicneolaíochta chun tacú le daoine go bhfuil gá acu le aclaíocht a chabhróidh leo teacht ar ais ó ghortú nó a chuirfidh lena sláinte go ginearálta.

Bhain Aoife céim sa fisiteiripe amach ó Choláiste na Tríonóide i 1995. Ní ró fhada ina dhiaidh sin, fostaíodh í mar fhisiteiripeoir le foireann caide Chiarraí agus tamall ina dhiaidh sin arís, fuair sí post mar léachtóir ins an institiúid.

Is mar thoradh ar an obair a bhí á dhéanamh aici ins an institiúid gur tháinig sí suas leis an smaoineamh laistiar do Salaso. Tagann na mic léinn ó ar fud na tíre agus dá bharr san, bíonn gá le roinnt don ábhar a chur ar líne dóibh.

“Chonaic mé go raibh ag éirí go maith leis sin,” arsa Aoife. “Is é an smaoineamh a bhí agam ná má oibríonn sé dos na mic léinn, cén fáth nach n-oibreodh sé le h-othair atá imithe ón gclinic nó ón ospidéal ach gur gá dóibh cleachtadh a dhéanamh leo féin le go bhfeabhasóidh siad?”

Bhí a fhios ag Aoife go raibh deacrachtaí ag fisiteiripeoirí agus ag dochtúirí go ginearálta le othair dá leithéid. “Tá cleachtadh gur féidir leis na h-othair seo a dhéanamh ach is í an fhadhb ná nuair a théann siad abhaile, ní dhéanann siad é,” adeir sí. “Ní orthu atá an locht go minic mar nach bhfuil ar a gcumas nó ní cuimhin leo conas iad a dhéanamh.”

Is é an smaoineamh a bhí ag Aoife ná go gcuirfí físeáin ar fáil dos na h-othair seo ar líne. Ansin bheidís in ann faire orthu agus iad sa mbaile.

D’éirigh thar barr leis an dtáirge ó gcéad lá a seoladh é i 2011. “Le h-imeacht na h-ama, bhí go leor daoine ag rá linn go raibh an táirge níos leithne ná fisiteiripe,” arsa Aoife.

Is léir ón dul chun cinn atá déanta ag Salaso ó shin go raibh sé sin fíor. I measc a gcuid custaiméirí, tá AXA PPP Healthcare, ospidéil móra le rá in Éirinn cosúil le Ospidéal Naomh Shéamais i mBaile Átha Cliaith, Cricket Scotland, Virgin Active, Spectrum Health, Spine Nevada agus Northwell Health.

“Tá an t-uafás féidireachtaí leis an t-árdán,” arsa Aoife. “Tóg an méid atá á dhéanamh againn le AXA mar shampla. Tá 25 fisiteiripeoir ag oibriú leo in ionad glaonna i nGlaschú. Má chuireann duine éigin glaoch orthu le pian ina droim, cuirfear ceisteanna ar an nduine sin agus déarfar leo dul chun an ospidéal le h-aghaidh x-gha, fanacht 24 uair a chloig agus dul go dtí an dochtúir muna bhfuil feabhas tagtha orthu nó cleachtaithe faoi leith a dhéanamh sa mbaile. Baineann siad úsáid as an bog earra atá againne chun na cleachtaithe sin a chur chuchu. Cabhraíonn sé seo go mór le AXA, mar go bhfuil siad ag sábháil airgid. Níl a gcuid custaiméirí ag dul go dtí an ospidéal le h-aghaidh comhairliúcháin nó scanadh MRI.”

Tá togra eile ar bun acu le Northwell. “Tá othair acu go bhfuil galar scamhóige toirmeascach ainsealach acu,” arsa Aoife. “Tagann siadsan ar ais chuchu arís agus arís eile mar ní dhéanann siad a gcuid cleachtaithe sa mbaile. Tá siad chun ranganna aclaíochta a chur ar fáil ins an ospidéal agus beidh na h-othair ábalta na ranganna seo a fheiscint beo tríd an árdán seo againne. Ag an am céanna, beidh siad ag caitheamh monatóir comharthaí beatha agus beidh an teagascóir in ann súil a choimeád orthu. Seo é an chéad uair riamh dúinn rud mar seo a dhéanamh.”

Tá Aoife dearfach mar gheall ar thodhchaí Salaso. Tá ochtar ag obair don gcomhlucht faoi láthair agus tá sé ar intinn aici foireann díolacháin agus margaíochta a fhostú go luath, go mórmhór sna Stáit Aontaithe agus sa Bhreatain.

“Beidh an foireann taighde agus forbairt lonnaithe anseo i dTráighlí i gcónaí ach ba bhreá liom go mbeadh foireann againn ag díol an táirge thar lear,” adeir sí. “Tá an t-uafás go bhféadfaí a dhéanamh le Salaso. Nílimid ach tosnaithe.”

Mar a dúras ag tús an ailt seo, is bean gnóthach í Aoife Ní Mhuirí. Is cinnte go bhfanfaidh sí amhlaidh go ceann i bhfad.

 

— Translated from the Irish by Sharon Ní Chonchúir —

 

Everyone says they’re busy these days, but when Aoife Ní Mhuirí tells me she is, I believe her. This woman from Connemara lectures in physiotherapy at the Institute of Technology in Tralee, County Kerry. She has four children and she also runs her own business.

Salaso Health Solutions is an e-health company that uses modern technology to support people who need to practice specific exercises in order to recover from injury or restore themselves to health.

Aoife graduated from Trinity College in 1995. Not long afterwards, she become the physiotherapist for the Kerry football team and shortly after that she got a position as a lecturer at the institute.

It was the work she did there that gave her the inspiration for Salaso. The students there come from all over Ireland and because they are so widely spread, a great deal of the course content is made available to them online.

“I saw that this was succeeding very well,” says Aoife. “It struck me that if it was working for students, then why wouldn’t it work for patients who have left clinics or hospitals but still have to practice exercises at home so that they continue to get better?”

Aoife knew that physiotherapists and the medical profession in general struggled with these types of patients. “There are exercises that these patients can practice at home but the problem is that once they get home, they don’t do them,” she says. “Often, it’s not their fault because they may not be able to do the exercises or they might not remember how to do them properly.”

Aoife’s idea was to provide an online platform where videos of these exercises would be made available to these patients. Then they would be able to watch the videos and practice the exercises at home.

Her idea proved to be a success from the moment it was launched in 2011. “People were soon telling us that the product had potential beyond physiotherapy,” says Aoife.

It’s clear from what has happened since that this was true. Salaso now counts AXA PPP Healthcare, major Irish hospitals such St James’ in Dublin, Cricket Scotland, Spectrum Health, Virgin Active, Spine Nevada and Northwell Health among its clients.

“The platform offers huge potential,” says Aoife. “Take what we’re doing with AXA for example. They have 25 physiotherapists working in a call centre in Glasgow. One of their customers might call with a pain in their back. That customer will be questioned to find out what the correct course of action might be. They might be told to go straight to hospital for an x-ray; to wait 24 hours and to go to the doctor if they’re not feeling better by then; or to practice a certain set of exercises. Our software is used to send these exercises. This approach saves AXA a lot of money, because fewer of their customers are going to hospital for consultations or MRI scans.”

Salaso’s work with Northwell is taking them in a new direction. “They have patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who come back to them again and again because they don’t do their exercises at home,” says Aoife. “Now they are going to run exercise classes in the hospital and the patients will be able to attend these classes live online through our platform. They will be wearing monitors as they exercise which will feed directly to the instructors in the hospital who will be able to adjust the exercises accordingly. This is a first for us.”

Aoife is optimistic about the future of Salaso. The company currently has eight employees and her next priority is to hire a sales and marketing team who will focus on selling to the U.S. and the U.K.

“I’ll always keep the research and development arm of the company here in Tralee but I’d love to have teams out selling the product overseas,” she says. “There’s a huge amount we could do with Salaso. We’ve only just begun.”

As I said at the beginning of this piece, Aoife Ní Mhuirí is a very busy woman. It appears she’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.