Catapulting a new service into the Irish Healthcare Sector – The roller -coaster first year

Mary Jones, Founder & Managing Director, Mobile Medical Diagnostics

I was recently asked if I would I do it all again, and in truth I know I would in a heartbeat.
The last year has been a great adventure, peppered with sadness, anxiety and fear but also with a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.
The journey began late one night in 2017 sitting with my Dad (85) in a busy emergency department-he had fallen and luckily had no fracture but was being held overnight for observation. Due to Parkinson’s he was difficult to assess in this stressful environment. He was also very dependent and required a lot of care in an already very stretched and busy ED department.
I sat and wondered might it be possible to move the equipment rather than the patient.
Two weeks later my 97-year-old Mother in law living with Dementia fell and my husband accompanied her to ED in an ambulance. Once again there was no fracture but she became very distressed and agitated which meant a difficult transfer back to her nursing home.
I felt that many of the visits to hospital might be avoided if the answers to the questions could be obtained in their nursing homes.
After months of research including trips to Norway and Boston, a service that embraces and improves upon those studied worldwide was designed. Equipment is digital and light-weight, we utilise cloud technology and remote reporting and provide GP with full consultant radiologist report within 1-4 hours of image capture, via encrypted healthmail service.
Building a highly skilled team was key, as quality was and always will be fundamental to our service.
I received a great willingness by leading experts to become involved, as they saw it as a very positive development in diagnostic imaging that would benefit our elderly and disabled members of society.
We expected hesitancy and reluctance when we introduced such a new service concept last October. One year in, we have taken X-rays in 18 private and 2 public nursing homes. Slowly but surely new nursing homes continue to come on stream. Several nursing homes use our service on a very regular basis.
Increasing awareness of, and access to our service has proved to be our greatest challenge.
Support for the service has grown as the benefits to the residents has become apparent. We have received very positive feedback from nursing homes and GP’s regarding the quality of service and benefits to the resident and the nursing homes.
Whilst we have found families very willing regarding payment, we are aware that there are many elderly that are alone and without means to access our service.
We hope that in the future our service will be supported by private health insurance companies and the HSE.
I believe our stats from the past year clearly demonstrate the value of our service to the community,
In the absence of our service
100% of patients we saw would have had to attend hospital accompanied by a minimum of 1 escort,
93.2% would have required ambulance transfer
6.8% would have required transfer by taxi
Most significantly because they had mobile X-ray
88.89% AVOIDED a trip to hospital
11.11% subsequently required transfer to hospital

Amongst the highlights of our first year
Being on final list of 8 companies shortlisted for Innovation Award at Future Health Summit in May
Providing first onsite mobile X-ray service at Electric Picnic
Being included in a Slaintecare bid by a large public hospital
Being shortlisted for Irish Healthcare Award – judging November 20th.
We also were fortunate to be featured in
The Irish Times, Sunday Business Post, Irish Medical Directory, Newstalk- Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy- Liveline, plus several local radio stations.

On a personal level, this service would not exist without the encouragement and support of my family and the guidance and expertise of both Dr Ruairi O’Donnell- Radiation Protection Advisor and Dr John Sheehan – Clinical Director, whom are a constant and generous fund of knowledge and support.
Sadly, Dad died last December but remains ever present on our website – he was a very willing model and had great interest in the business.