Insights gained through dealing with her daughter’s multiple food sensitivities, inspired Sunshine Coast local Pauline O’Sullivan, to create a software solution to help others deal with food-related health problems.
Pauline, who was voted as a Sunshine Coast Digital Champion in 2013, was a recipient of an Advance Queensland Digital Champion Award in 2016.
When necessity becomes the mother of invention
Her company Victus Health, is a globally recognised provider of advanced software for personalised nutrition.
In 2013, the company was given early stage support from Accelerating Commercialisation.
It was also awarded an Ignite Ideas Grant from the Queensland Government in 2017. With this Grant, Victus Health will provide greater patient access to targeted solutions for conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and obesity.
Here, Pauline shares her experiences starting and growing a digital business in regional Queensland.
What is the digital solution your business offers?
“We have created a continually expanding, scientifically-classified, ingredient and recipe database, enabling health practitioners to tailor highly personalised ‘food as medicine’-protocols for patients with highly specific dietary requirements. Patients can now take comfort in the knowledge that they don’t need a degree in food science, to embark on their healing protocol. All ingredients and recipes contained within their Victus nutrition-program, have been accurately classified according to the latest science. Patients also have far greater mobility, through smart-device access to their personalised nutrition programs.”
Patient Nutrition Plans include:
- An individualized digital cookbook
- A mobile database of personalized dietary and lifestyle guidelines
- The facility to upload health-tracking records such as test results, food diaries, videos and photos documenting progress and/or physical symptoms
What are the operating advantages and challenges to being based on the Sunshine Coast?
“Victus Health was very fortunate to have been accepted into the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre’s mentoring program in 2012, which enabled our team to plug into the thriving community of innovative businesses here on the Coast. The support we have been given by this community has been invaluable. The main difficulty about being based here, is the limited access to experienced I.T. personnel and to investment capital. Early stage funding in particular, is much harder to get in Australia than in the USA. This means that innovative companies, need to target angel investment if they want to scale here - and there is a lot of competition for the limited dollars available.”
What are the key digital innovations changing your industry sector?
“The key to improving healthcare in this new era of escalating lifestyle-related chronic disease, is to deliver preventative, personalised and participative health programs, that enable a team of health-care providers to provide coordinated care solutions.”
New Cloud-based, web-enabled platforms make this possible as they:
- Enable improved access to information
- Streamline systems
- Limit duplication
- And simplify complex data
“This frees up resources, reduces costs and most importantly enables health care practitioners to better prevent, manage and treat disease. It is this realisation that continues to fuel our drive for continuous improvement as we aim to provide a comprehensive solution that will transform the health and lives of patients, practitioners and their families, across the world.”
How are you using digital technology and systems to evolve your business practices?
“Our delivery system relies on a custom-built digital platform that we’ve spent years expanding and refining. In 2010, we developed the first software in the world to enable recipes to be filtered for multiple food allergens, made available through our website. We’ve continued to expand our Platform, to deliver programs for an increasing array of health conditions. Our technology includes a mobile, cloud-based, practitioner delivered interface and public API.”
How do you think the expanding digital economy will benefit the Sunshine Coast region for businesses, families and communities?
“The expanding digital economy allows for people from any background to develop world-class systems. What was once only available to people with deep pockets or powerful connections, is now available to the ordinary person who has hit upon an innovative digital solution to a great need. This means that you really are only limited by your capacity for creative thinking and persistence, which are capacities that you can grow if your desire/will is strong enough. I am the perfect example of this, as I am the last person anyone would have expected to build a global, digital-nutrition business (including myself). My training and experience was in psychology and social work, but due to my daughter’s condition, I envisioned a digital solution to a large and growing need. Whilst I had no I.T. skills to speak of, I knew from my experiences working for a decade in the highly stressful field of child abuse, family violence and juvenile justice, that I had the requisite passion, grit and management skills needed, to bring this solution into reality. To overcome my skill and knowledge gaps, I partnered with the right people who could complement the skills I was lacking. The great news is that I.T. professionals, digital service providers, entrepreneurial support services and access to early stage funding, is much more available now than it was when we got started.”
For more information about how to access Victus Health’s proprietary ‘food as medicine’ software, visit www.victushealth.com.