Read how Irish healthcare sector responding to impact of innovative technologies and solutions

| Posted on: 27 May, 2021

HealthTech ‘golden age’ is born of the challenge of a lifetime

The HealthTech Ireland Annual Conference heard that innovation will lead to a near future where technology is central to personalising patient experience and saving lives

Roisin Kiberd - avatar

Roisin Kiberd

16th May, 2021

HealthTech 'golden age' is born of the challenge of a lifetime

Dr Patricia Harrington, deputy director of health technology assessment, Hiqa; Jim Dowdall, strategic advisor, Irish Life Health; Jim Joyce, founder and chief executive, HealthBeacon; Martin Curley, director, digital transformation and open innovation, HSE; Rosemary Durcan, chief executive, Athena Life Sciences Consultancy Ltd and board member, HealthTech Ireland; and Ray Cahill, chair, HealthTech Ireland and territory vice-president international, Change Healthcare
In 2020, facing one of the most challenging years in living history, the healthcare sector had no choice but to embrace innovation, making use of technologies including machine learning, telehealth and remote monitoring tools. The adoption of digital healthcare has accelerated to such an extent that governments are now having to take stock of its impact, and plan for its future.2021’s HealthTech Ireland Annual Conference took place online, gathering experts in the field to reflect on this cultural shift. The programme of keynotes, panels and case studies reflected the sector’s renewed interest in innovation and connectivity; with the theme “Igniting innovation through collaborations”, the conference brought together policy makers, clinical leaders, patient advocates, researchers and other industry insiders to discuss advances made in technology and engineering, and the future of Irish healthcare.

Delivering the morning keynote address, Mike Burrows, national coordination director for AHSN Network, UK, spoke on models for spreading and scaling innovation throughout the healthcare system.

Part of an NHS-funded organisation implementing an end-to-end model for development, support and deployment of innovations at a local and national level in the UK, Burrows outlined lessons taken from their work. “It’s not something that can be delivered remotely; it’s all about building trust, and relationships with teams,” he said. “It’s important that there’s not only evidence of efficacy, but that there’s a solid value proposition there that’s either cost-neutral, or that can release resources.”

David Toohey, CEO of Synchrophi Systems, delivered a case study titled ‘How intelligent automation is changing healthcare’. Discussing the challenges and costs associated with adding more hospital beds, a problem which has long affected Irish hospitals, Toohey went on to discuss an ambitious plan to reduce the length of hospital stays, improve efficiency among hospital staff, and reduce treatment costs through use of intelligent automation.

Cloud computing holds a lot of potential to deliver ‘patient-centric’ care – speaking on the subject, Mark Finlay, head of public sector for the Republic of Ireland for Amazon Web Services (AWS) said that third-party research indicated that “From a cost perspective, our clients aren’t going to invest up front… they can basically turn their infrastructure on and off when they need it.” Citing benefits to scalability and security posture, Finlay said the cloud also delivers dramatic improvements to agility.

Dr Andrew Jones, head of clinical innovation at AWS, said that cloud can also aid in securing mission-critical environments, delivering improved reliability. Remote health technologies, like dermatology scanning software SkinVision, use cloud technology to power their machine vision, monitoring potentially dangerous conditions in patients remotely.