Tech Human Of Dublin # 36: Leonora O’Brien, Pharmapod

Mapping Dublin’s tech ecosystem, one human at a time.

Pharmapod develop software for the healthcare sector, to reduce medication errors that occur within community pharmacies, and hospitals. It saves money, and it’s a patient safety initiative, which I’m very passionate about.

I’m also a co-organiser of Health2Dublin, we have 500 members now, there’s a huge amount of activity within the HealthTech space. It’s about getting everyone involved in healthcare innovation, all the stakeholders, together in the same room. We identify the problems that need to be solved, and then go about solving them in a collaborative way. It is heavily focussed on technology, and with those networks, you have great peer support. You can share your insights and learnings.

We’re an Irish company, but we have our hearts and sights set on a global market. That was key from day one. We went through the NDRC Launchpad programme, where the criteria is to build a globally scaling product – we always knew that the problem we were trying to address was an international one. And it hasn’t been solved yet.

We’re getting a lot of traction in the UK market right now. We launched in 210 Superdrug stores earlier this year, which has been a massive success, they’ve been great to work with. There’s an understanding from a lot of our UK clients that Dublin is strong in technology: there’s an automatic thing that if you’re an Irish company, then it stands for quality, which is fantastic. We try and bring our own bit of quality to that mix. Brand Ireland (laughs). Canada is our next big market; there’s a lot of consolidation there, which makes it easier to enter. Six pharmacy groups own two-thirds of the market there, which means that within six deals you can have a large percentage of the market.

I’m from a patient-facing background, I’m a qualified pharmacist, and when you are a healthcare professional and you have the capability to make a difference to people’s lives, and to replicate what you’re doing a million-fold through software, that’s a really exciting prospect. Five per cent of hospital admissions are due to a medication error. I’ve seen a lot of heartbreak that can be avoided. And that’s why we get up in the morning.

Dublin’s so easy to get around, logistically. And networking couldn’t be easier: you’re always a hop, skip and a jump from your next meeting. I lived in London for eight years: unbelievable city, very exciting, great tech scene, but it’s just that bit more vast and harder to negotiate. It takes me around eighteen minutes to get to Dublin airport from the centre of town. It helps if it’s five o’clock in the morning (laughs).


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