Alumni Stories – CatTrax

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss in older adults in New Zealand. Over 30,000 New Zealanders have cataract surgery every year, which makes it by far  the most frequently completed surgical procedure in New Zealand. Numerous patients rely on government funding to get a surgery done.

As an eye surgeon himself, CatTrax CEO James Mckelvie realised that there were a lot of inefficiencies and barriers in the traditional system of getting publicly funded cataract surgeries. This is due to various complexities and manual work involved in determining eligibility for a publicly funded surgery using numerous criteria. With referrals coming from community-based optometrists, the traditional system typically involves 20 to 30 pages of handwritten notes and forms per patient. It takes several months before the patient can get an approval, thus causing huge delays and a very negative patient experience overall. On top of that, there is a lack of a proper feedback system that would help ophthalmologists/surgeons know how they are performing.

CatTrax, co-founded by University of Auckland graduates James McKelvie and Eddie Rosser, alongside Andrew Emery, is a cloud-based application. It uses Information technology to automate and quicken processes related to referring and managing patients for a cataract surgery. Within minutes, GPs/ophthalmologists can use their CatTrax account to enter patient information and check eligibility then and there, while the traditional system takes up to several months to achieve the same. In addition:

  • Optometrists are able to spend more time with patients and less time doing paperwork.
  • At the completion of the surgery, patients also have the opportunity to provide feedback regarding their satisfaction with the processes involved and the surgery.

CatTrax is being used in the Waikato region since 2017 and in the Lakes region since early 2019. They are about to roll out in Auckland and Dunedin as well. “We have been getting interest from all over the country” says CEO James Mckelvie.  “Our goal is to be used nationwide within the next 12 months”. At some point in the future, CatTrax hopes to expand and manage patients for other eye treatments like Glaucoma as well.

CatTrax first won the 2016 Innovation Challenge. After that, the idea was entered into the 2016 $100k Challenge and came second. According to James, the network and learning at Velocity played a really important role. It helped them fill their knowledge gaps and move from a concept to an actual product. He also made meaningful connections that helped him along the way.