Oak Digital Health keeps the business of surgery on track

Trinity Launchbox start-up Oak Digital Health is creating a solution to manage pain and fatigue associated with chronic conditions.

Oak Digital Health is building a a digital platform to deliver evidence-based techniques trusted by clinicians to manage patients’ health.

“The problem we are solving is the costs associated with the lack of appropriate patient preparation and the high rates of cancellations for surgical procedures,” explained co-founder Brian Cronin.

“This helps surgeons to ensure that the patient attends the surgery and that the patient is appropriately prepared”

“Each year there are 235m surgeries worldwide, with a large amount of associated costs. The cost of cancellations to the NHS is £400m annually and complications can increase the cost of a procedure by up to 12-fold.”

Oak Digital Health’s core product is a platform that provides education, information and digital care to patients before their surgery.

“This helps surgeons to ensure that the patient attends the surgery and that the patient is appropriately prepared.”

The company was one of 10 start-ups that took part in the accelerator. LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace at Trinity College Dublin, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures.

Solid foundations

The founders of Oak Digital Health are Hitesh Shaji and Brian Cronin.

Shaji isa qualified physiotherapist and is a Master’s in Computer Science student.

Cronin is a pharmacy student with commercial experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

“The idea for this product came when reflecting on Hithesh’s experience with his mum, who had cancer five years ago. Hithesh recalled the procedures which she underwent and understood the need for a solution to ensure patients are appropriately informed and engaged beforehand,” said Cronin.

He believes Ireland has a supportive start-up scene. “The resources available through Enterprise Ireland and universities are extremely helpful. We are very privileged to have access to these, and there is great community of entrepreneurs in Ireland. We feel very well supported and are proud to start our company in Ireland.

“We are not currently raising funding. We have received €25,000 in non-equity funding through Launchbox and the new frontiers program and are using this to develop our product and strengthen our business case.”

The company makes astute use of available cloud tools to stay agile. “We use Basecamp for project management, Slack for internal  communication and Zoom for video calls.”

Customer feedback, he observes, is crucial if you want your start-up to be a success. “The biggest lesson we learned is to talk to customers early and often, in an objective and non-biased way to gather information about what they really want. It is very easy to fall in love with your solution without determining if there is a real market need. The Mom Test is a great book we would recommend on this.”

His advice to budding entrepreneurs? “Be open-minded, flexible on the details and listen to what customers are telling you both directly and implicitly.”

Pictured above: Oak Digital Health co-founders Brian Cronin and Hitesh Shaji

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 24 September, 2020