Challenges in healthcare create opportunities for innovators.
How to drive change in an industry that is traditionally averse to change? How to fix a broken care and delivery model that does not manage people well in the continuum of care? How to cope with razor thins margins at a time when the expense of delivering care is outpacing reimbursement?
These are just some of the challenges identified at the North American Healthcare Forum, a major international event hosted by Enterprise Ireland, and attended by senior leaders from US and Canadian healthcare systems, as well as some of Ireland’s most successful and innovative healthcare solutions providers.
One of the biggest areas of opportunity for the latter was identified as the ongoing shift in focus from the acute setting to the social care setting, with a growing emphasis on the social determinants of health, such as lifestyles and behaviours.
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Budget is a major healthcare challenge
But working within constrained budgets was a recurring theme. For Arden Krystal, CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre in Canada, where a socialised, single-payer care model exists, one of the biggest challenges is capital.
“We depend very heavily on foundations to fund our capital. Governments take a very limited role in that and it creates a lot of challenges for us in terms of keeping up with things like information technology and newer technologies. We’re always behind (the curve) just replacing things that are literally broken,” she said.
Hospitals in growing communities fare better than those whose communities are performing less well.
Michelle Conger is Chief Strategy Officer at OSF Healthcare in Illinois. Aside from Chicago, the region is not a growing market, she said. Much of its focus, as a result, is on the integration of social services agencies, through a digital platform. One current initiative involves a community of 22,000 people, whose local hospital has closed, leaving residents without access to acute care facilities.
The aim is to improve health outcomes by providing access to OSF hospitals using technology and making better use of community-based programmes.
“In the US, social service agencies and healthcare operate in silos. A lot of times we are all working with the same people but not able to improve their health outcomes because we don’t realise it. Just creating that kind of transparency has had a big effect,” said Conger.
Opportunities for innovation in healthcare
Another challenge is transitions of care, said Brian Donley, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic UK. “Whether it is transitions from hospital to home, from one hospital to another, or from the operating room up to the floor, we see that as a big cost opportunity. Transitions of care costs a lot of money,” he said, pointing out they also lead to concerns about quality and safety. “How we achieve transitions of care better represents an opportunity for innovation,” he said.
Advances in electronic medical records software is a complicated topic, said Michelle Conger. “It gave us access to the data we need – and we built a separate data warehouse that helped us – but I think work has to be done to really help providers work differently because I’m not sure the system has made it more efficient.”
The challenge of highly constrained funding over the past seven years was highlighted by Rob MacIsaac, CEO and President of Hamilton Health Sciences in Canada. “Our strategy is to constrain funding in healthcare and expand capacity in communities,” he said.
“What that has meant for many providers is that we are being challenged to transform the system without having the resources to do that transformation. Innovation is very challenging if you can’t invest in it.”
There are however great sparks of innovation happening, he said, including R&D work around remote monitoring, to try and help patients into their home more quickly after treatment and surgery.
“We’ve also done early work in stratification of patient populations, trying to gain insights so we can start to better predict people before they crash, in a way that helps to prevent that. We are starting to do work around understanding what the potential is for us as a learning health system, and the role metrics and analytics can play in that,” he said.
Southlake Regional Health Centre is in a growing region, and so is the recipient of more funding. This has enabled it to invest in its own innovation centre. It has successfully partnered with a number of tech companies and entrepreneurs to develop products and services, which it has gone on to procure.
The aim is to have innovators come in at an earlier stage, “rather than with a fully baked product that may or may not work in a healthcare environment,” said CEO Arden Krystal. “We hope to do our call outs sooner, saying, here’s a couple of big chunky problems we have – companies, come to us and tell us how you think you can work with us and co-design a product that can help us.”
As with many healthcare systems, particularly those with ageing populations, “a lot of our big problems are around the fact that we have way too many patients and not enough space, so we have to find a way to continue to reduce stays, to help people back into the community. So remote monitors are big, but also some process tools to help us communicate faster and move people through our system hospitals. It’s all those kind of non-sexy processes that we sometimes don’t do very well in healthcare. We’re open to all of those as well.”
Any innovation that enables medical professionals to work “at top of licence” will be welcomed, said David Longworth, interim CEO of Lahey Hospital and Medical Centre in Massachusetts.
Ensuring doctors and nurses are not bogged down in routine tasks or paperwork, for example, will ease problems of burn out.
“If I had a blank canvas in relation to solutions in healthcare I would look at the way patients move through the system and at who is delivering the care, having people operate at the top of their licence,” said Lahey’s Longworth.
“I would also invest in transitions of care, leveraging technologies and applications to help foster seamless transitions of care, care giver engagement and patient engagement. I think we have just scratched the surface in how we can apply technology to not just individual patients, but populations of patients.”
Digitisation of medical technology is critical for connectivity and integration of healthcare data across the continuum of care. However, digitally enabled medical technology is only part of the solution. The use of patient engagement to motivate patients to access, use and adhere to digital services and tools to manage their health and wellbeing is critical for 100% utilisation of the digital healthcare ecosystem.
Increasing role of patient engagement
Investment in advanced medical technology gives healthcare professionals and patients access to digital services and tools that support the patient journey across the care continuum, as well as fulfilling treatment goals. Healthcare professionals are making clinical decisions based on insights from healthcare data, leading to improved outcomes for patients. Patients are also playing an active role in their own care delivery by investing in their own care and setting their self-care management goals.
At this juncture, where healthcare delivery is undergoing a major digital transformation, there is an urgent need to make medical technology more patient-centric. To achieve this, there is a need to design a successful engagement strategy.
Channels of patient engagement for healthcare organisations
Patient engagement in a value-based care ecosystem revolves around a need to communicate with patients at every stage of their healthcare journey. To achieve this, healthcare providers are investing in key patient engagement services and tools such as remote health monitoring, chronic disease management, compliance programmes, patient education programmes and wellness support. Furthermore, they are involved in the effective use of traditional as well as digital channels to allow incoming, chronic and transitioning patients to seek preventive and reactive intervention. The focus is on delivery of personalised and dynamic care recommendations to every patient irrespective of care settings. In addition, they are introducing initiatives to optimise population health management efforts through member specific guidance and value-based healthcare relationships. Healthcare providers are also looking to foster behavioural trends that encourages proactive self-care among patients.
The ultimate aim of patient engagement is the attainment of high patient satisfaction and healthcare providers are increasingly looking at non-clinical factors to drive patient experience. With the rise of smart hospitals there is a focus to enhance patient wellbeing during their hospital stay and drive outcomes in three major areas–operational efficiency, clinical excellence, and patient-centricity. We see hospitals investing in business process automation of workflows as well as improving overall hospital design to drive patient satisfaction through areas such as smart patient rooms and services.
A healthcare provider ecosystem that uses smart technology to facilitate seamless communication between clinical and non-clinical systems, and that uses digitally enabled medical technology to generate actionable insights will drive patient engagement, in turn creating endless possibilities for outcomes-based care.
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Role of medical technology in supporting healthcare providers to achieve high outcomes.
Healthcare systems across the globe face several challenges in delivering high quality care, due to reductions in reimbursement, budget shortfalls, and a restrictive regulatory environment. The pressure to deliver high quality care against financial constraints forces healthcare providers to pass on this cost deficit to medical technology solution providers. Medical technology vendors are themselves grappling with the need to bring the latest technology to market quickly, while maintaining their profit margins. In such a context, there is a need to balance both qualitative as well as quantitative outcomes; and a value-based care model offers healthcare providers and medical technology new possibilities.
Impact of value-based care on efficacy and efficiency of healthcare delivery
Value-based care model is a process based approach used by healthcare providers to deliver accurate diagnosis and treatment algorithms to improve patient outcomes and thereby reduce disparities in treatment of diseases and conditions. From a reimbursement and pricing point of view, this means that payment is based on efficacy and efficiency of care delivered. For hospital CIOs, value-based care provides additional metrics to evaluate their performance including specific measures such as reducing hospital readmissions, improving emergency care and operating room utilisation, and a focus on preventative care. This not only allows hospitals to improve their financial performance but also provides additional advantages such as increased level of patient satisfaction.
Collaboration of medical technology OEMs and healthcare providers to drive VBC
Healthcare data supported by a digital health ecosystem will be the backbone to driving VBC. Medical technology vendors can provide digitally enabled solutions to support digitisation; they will increasingly need to demonstrate economic value offered by their solution in addition to clinical outcomes. With rise of integrated care, healthcare providers and medical technology vendors will need to increasingly collaborate to deliver value across the care continuum and improve overall quality of life.
Healthcare providers are at varying stages of digital maturity and medical technology vendors have an influential role to play in overcoming this gap. Vendors can work with hospitals to optimise the performance of existing infrastructure in areas such as inventory management, resource utilisation, etc. through incremental innovation.
A joint endeavour between healthcare vendors and medical technology OEMs will ensure that clinicians have access to healthcare data that will assist them in clinical decision making. At the same time, it will enable optimisation of key clinical workflows and business processes that drive overall operational efficiency. This two-pronged approach will result in achieving both clinical outcomes and business goals, leading to value-based care in its truest sense.
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Few areas in the medtech sector are expanding as rapidly as digital healthcare.
Cloud computing, big data, the internet of things and the near-total individual ownership of smartphones has created an almost perfect driver for rapid advances in the way patients will be treated in the future. It is, in simple terms, a revolution.
When pharmaceutical companies are developing their own drug therapy apps, the crossover between sectors is clear.
20 years ago, Irish design firm Frontend.com set-out to “make the internet a better place”, according to Frank Long, a director at the firm. The web landscape was unrecognisable to the one we experience today. It was populated with poor design, inappropriate information structures and arcane web technologies that made even simple tasks almost impossible.
Putting user experience at the heart of the solution
Frontend’s design ethos of putting user experience at the heart of the solution quickly saw it engaged by major enterprise clients, such as Barclays Bank and Hewlett Packard, as they sought to deliver more of their customer services online.
The dot.com crash quickly sorted out the agile and innovative players. By repositioning itself alongside Ireland’s burgeoning medtech sector, Frontend found a highly innovative and rapidly growing field as the world’s largest pharmaceutical and medical devices companies set up operations in Ireland.
“We made the decision to specialise, as we felt this was the best way to survive in a volatile market, we decided to go after the jobs we could really add value to and ignore everything else,” says Long.
Five years ago, digital health projects accounted for 20% of Frontend’s turnover. Today, half of all business is designing frontend UX for digital health products such as apps and software.
And Frontend is not just servicing the domestic market in Ireland. Up to 70% of sales are overseas, as firms from the US, Germany and Switzerland seek out the company’s specialist expertise for projects that have spanned 20 different countries.
Frontend’s Irish advantage
Being based in Ireland allows the firm to service markets around the globe with significant logistical advantages.
“Language is hugely important but also geographically we are between US and Europe. In one respect, we are right in the thick of things but we are seen as culturally independent of both. We can attach or integrate ourselves quite easily into a US-led project, or likewise a European project, so it gives us that flexibility which is quite helpful. Logistically we are in a pretty good space in terms of time zones and flight connections.
“We could be talking in the morning to Mumbai, Geneva at lunchtime and by the afternoon San Diego or Philadelphia. We can do all that in a working day and you’d be surprised how beneficial that is logistically.”
Design that empowers end users
Frontend follows agile design principles to iterate prototypes that put the end user front and foremost in the process. When he refers to ‘users’ Long is using the term in its broadest sense including both patients and their healthcare team.
Long explained, “Obviously the patient’s need is paramount, but ultimately, you rely heavily on nurses and hospital staff to train and support technology. Anything that goes wrong, nurses have to address and they don’t really have time to spare to do a lot of these tasks. So it becomes pretty onerous. If you design something with a poor user experience you’re hurting the very people that you are hoping to be your ally in winning new customers.”
This approach has made it the go-to partner for firms such as Merck. Their most recent project sees Frontend working on a drug therapy app for a chronic lifelong illness. With chronic conditions seeing a fall off in medication adherence by up to 50% within the first six months, it is vital for the treating physician to know if a patient’s long-term outcome is due to the drug treatment or non-adherence.
The Merck project sees patients self-administer their drug with an auto-injector, which is connected to a smartphone app. This app records all of the data about the dosage, including time, amount of medication etc – it also records any missed dosage – storing it in the cloud – where the healthcare team can access it. Providing this type of remote monitoring to physicians is one step towards a connected health future, making treatment more effective and ultimately cost effective.
Frontend’s own frontline research with patients and healthcare teams has shown that a well-designed app not only makes onboarding easier but has improved drug therapy outcomes: patients, in effect, like to know their condition is being monitored.
The use of data in this way has implications, particularly in the German market. And Frontend has done extensive testing and research to ensure GDPR compliance.
Long added: “If you introduce an app on a smartphone in Germany that collects data the first question they ask is who has access to it and how is consent obtained. It is something you have to be cognisant of.
“Overall, Germany is a very open marketplace and German people are open to using tech. Patients are actually well disposed to the idea of digital augmentation of their therapies such as an app that comes with a drug. They see it as a positive thing and in many respects you are pushing at an open door when you are designing these systems.”
There are, of course, many technical challenges in delivering patient-centric solutions into a complex and highly regulated healthcare space. But paramount to these is the need to create an appropriate user experience for the patient and their healthcare team – and this is where Frontend are the specialists.
Join Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, for an exciting opportunity to connect with senior executives from leading North America healthcare groups and Ireland’s most innovative medical technology companies at the inaugural North America Healthcare Forum.
This two-day event connects Irish companies and senior executives in healthcare systems and hospitals throughout the United States & Canada, including:
- Adventist Health, Florida
- Hamilton Health Sciences, Ontario
- Lahey Health, Massachusetts
- Northwell Health, New York
- OSF Healthcare, Illinois
- Partners’ Health, Massachusetts
- Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto
- Southlake Regional Hospital, Ontario
- Network with more than 30 C-Level Executives from North American hospital groups, collectively responsible for more than 30 million patients
- Hear healthcare decision-makers discuss the major clinical, operational and regulatory challenges affecting hospitals in the United States and Canada, and the opportunities they are creating for innovation and technology
- Learn from subject matter experts in areas including healthcare investment, reimbursement and route-to-market strategy.
Nova Leah’s co-founder and CEO Anita Finnegan describes its journey from a college spin-out to global player.
In May 2017, as the Wannacry ransomware attack swept the world, Britain’s National Health Service declared a “major incident”. Computer networks were shut down in order to curtail the spread of the attack, as hospitals were forced to divert ambulances, cancel out-patient services and even postpone a number of elective surgeries.
Medical devices, from MRIs to pumps to pacemakers, all rely to some extent on wireless monitoring. While that has given doctors and medical professionals an unprecedented ability to oversee their efficiency, it has also given rise to the very real concern that they could be vulnerable to attack.
Minimise risk but maximise benefits
Nova Leah, a cybersecurity start-up based out of Dundalk IT in Ireland’s northeast, was spun out from the college in June 2016 – but its tender age is no indication of modest ambitions. The team, led by CEO and co-founder Anita Finnegan, is ready to disrupt the global healthcare sector.
Finnegan says that the company wants to minimise the risks of rapidly evolving medical technologies, in turn allowing the health sector to maximise their benefits.
“While the increased use of wireless technology and software in medical devices also increases the risks of potential cybersecurity threats, these same features also improve healthcare – and increase the ability of healthcare providers to treat patients,” she explains.
“Because cybersecurity threats cannot be completely eliminated, manufacturers, hospitals and facilities must work together to manage them.”
That’s where Nova Leah comes in.
“Medical devices come from an industry that essential forgot about security,” she says.
“For the last 10 or 12 years, more and more devices in a hospital setting have been connected to a network. Many devices on the market have known vulnerabilities and these are devices are connected to patients that rely on them to keep them safe.
But the threat goes far beyond individual devices; these weaknesses could, she says, be exploited to gain wider access across an IT network system.
“A weakness in a device could take down a network or make the devices on a network inaccessible. Hospitals and administrators don’t know always necessarily know what devices are on their networks, and this is partly because of a lack of standardization around hospital procurement.”
“Patients can be at risk.”
Three steps to success
Working with device manufacturers on an end-to-end basis – before, during and after the manufacturing process – Nova Leah provides value to customers by minimising risks, aiding the approval process, and ensuring the devices remain impervious to new vulnerabilities and threats once they are in use.
This innovative approach minimises and manages risk right throughout the process.
“Our system helps companies discover potential vulnerabilities in their products during the development lifecycle,” explains Finnegan.
“Then, after the device goes to production, manufacturers can rely on SelectEvidence® to inform them of any new vulnerabilities or threats to the devices. This can help in terms of gathering compliance-related evidence while taking the process a step further into continuous monitoring.”
Much like a home alarm that has always-on monitoring, SelectEvidence® checks the latest vulnerabilities and alert device manufacturers to these should they be applicable. For example, manufacturers who used Intel chips affected by the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities early in the year would have been notified of the flaw within a short time-frame.
The system would also have directed users to a potential fix for their issue.
SelectEvidence® is useful for manufacturers for a number of reasons beyond the immediately obvious – including time. Anita estimates that clients can save 80% of time spent testing in the pre-market stage and 90% in the post-market compared with traditional risk assessment practices.
The company also offers another commodity which is in scarce supply in the medical devices industry: cybersecurity expertise.
“We don’t have a wide array of subject matter experts in the industry, but companies can use our system in their existing frameworks with their existing teams.
“The system becomes the expert.”
The Irish Advantage
When Finnegan thinks of the advantages she has gained from being an Irish start-up, she thinks of Ireland’s excellent reputation in research, medical science and IT, which has allowed her to build a company that is at the vanguard of solving a major issue.
“My biggest advantage has been the ability to work in the Irish research ecosystem. I performed my research in the Regulated Software Research Centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology which is part of Lero, University of Limerick. And that incredible international recognition allowed me the opportunity to work with the international standards community and regulators. I also represent NSAI and Ireland as the medical device cybersecurity expert at international working groups. This has given me valuable exposure to many of the decision makers and influencers in this industry
“The Irish focus on research, and the reputation that brings, is really helpful.”
With the value of the digital health industry due to hit over $370bn within the next six years, it makes sense that Nova Leah is looking to the future – and just a few months ago, they announced a 78-person hiring drive over the next few years.
But Finnegan believes that there will be more to this expansion than just medical devices.
“For now, we’re looking at expanding into the broader healthcare market with solutions for hospitals. From there we will be looking at other safety critical domains. This could include the likes of autonomous cars.
“Right now, our focus is on the US, we’ll later expanding into Asia and Europe. It’s still an industry in it’s infancy.
Even so, Nova Leah has been successful in attracting a number of Fortune 300 clients – which indicates a bright future for this start-up, and for the healthcare industry at large.
A strong emphasis on research and clinical trials enabled SilverCloud to develop an ‘innovation DNA’ – and it’s only getting started, says founder and CEO Ken Cahill.
In an era when discussions about mental and emotional health have never been more prominent, one Irish company is harnessing technology to improve the lives of users across Europe and the wider world.
SilverCloud is a confidential platform that delivers therapeutic and psycho-education programs, which are in turn used by healthcare providers and large companies to improve the emotional health of users.
Founded in Dublin in 2012, SilverCloud has over 150,000 active users across 185 organizations in eight countries, the USA, UK, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and Ireland.
CEO Ken Cahill, who is based in Boston, explains that the company allows organizations to “deliver and provide access to effective mental and emotional health at a scalable, lower cost”.
“When we were founded, the industry had a lot of problems, including high levels of user dropout, low levels of user engagement and limited clinical improvement. Those are some of the core challenges that SilverCloud addresses.”
DNA of innovation
“The platform is now used by many types of organizations, helping them to deliver a better mental health experience.”
At the core of SilverCloud’s expansion is what Cahill calls “a DNA of innovation”. One third of its 60-strong staff is dedicated to research and development, with another third composed of clinical staff who run ongoing trials aimed at bettering the service’s offering.
The service currently includes evidence-based, structured programs that help users to tackle depression, anxiety and stress. A dedication to uncovering new methods and approaches is helping to fuel the company’s success.
“Right now, we have 30 research trials running across our markets. We’re constantly evolving and iterating the platform with new evidence-based programs.
“For us to serve our clients and users, the solution has to work in terms of positive outcomes, it has to be easy to access and it has to be scalable.”
Given its focus on overseas markets, Cahill is keenly aware of the challenges of expanding within the EU and further afield. However, he explains, expansion doesn’t have to be a complicated process, if each new market is given the attention it deserves.
“The key to our approach is to be respectful of the market we’re entering. It’s important to have a presence in the area. Just flying in and out is not appropriate. You need a full time, dedicated and relentless focus.
As SilverCloud continues to spread its wings ever-further around the world, Cahill describes how its Irish grounding, and the reputation of some of the country’s leading institutions, has contributed to its success.
“Where we come from has really helped. Coming from formational periods in Ireland’s (NDRC) National Digital Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin and the Mater Hospital helped us to establish credibility and pedigree. “
SilverCloud’s commitment to new markets and innovation has seen the platform grow massively over the last five years, explains Cahill. The goal is now to continue growing, while continuing to improve the service for existing users.
“We have over 150,000 people using the platform since 2012. Half of those have started within the last year. The growth rate has been phenomenal.
“The goal is to get to many, many millions and make SilverCloud the number one space for improving emotional health worldwide. That’s the battle cry of everything we do – that’s what we come back to when we make decisions.
“We focus on retaining our culture of innovation while achieving results. As we grow, we focus on keeping that DNA. For example, as we accept investors, we try to make sure they are aligned with what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
Cahill says that the focus on growth is shared by the company’s staff.
Making lives better
“In our offices, we have screens that show current active and overall users to remind us of our goals to really help improve emotional health”
But beyond user growth, Cahill is proudest that the platform is measurably making lives better. That, he explains, is the mission.
For Cahill, the impact of SilverCloud goes far beyond revenue, extending into how many people it helps and the effect it has on their lives.
To that end, the platform is already seeing results, results that mean better lives for users.
“We entered the UK market just over four years ago. Since then, the platform has been adopted by over 70% of the entire NHS to deliver mental health services,” he says.
“What we’ve seen is incredible – over 80% users of the platform have significant clinical improvement and over 60% will reach full recovery rates – those numbers are nothing short of phenomenal.
“I’m proudest that we’re measurably and positively improving the lives of users. And it goes beyond the users. We’re improving the lives of their spouses, their families and the community.”
The largest healthcare provider in New York State, Northwell Health, is benefitting from solutions Irish companies deliver to enhance customer experience and improve efficiency and productivity, thanks to a partnership signed with Enterprise Ireland in December 2016.
Northwell Health has 22 hospitals and 600 outpatient facilities and cares for more than 1.8 million people a year in the New York area and beyond. President and Chief Executive Michael Dowling is highly focused on innovation and trying new technologies.
“I tell my employees all the time, the biggest competitor we have is not other organisations, it is the status quo,” he says. “If we are not willing to adapt, we are losing. A lot of the solutions Irish companies deliver can give us competitive edge in this regard.”
Since the partnership with Enterprise Ireland was signed, Northwell Health has reviewed over 50 Irish companies and has done deals with two – Technopath Clinical Diagnostics and Salaso Health Solutions. There are several others which Dowling feels have real potential.
Technopath has developed a first-of-its-kind consolidated immunochemistry testing product. Consolidation enables clinical laboratories to significantly reduce handling requirements, reclaim storage and minimise waste, leading to a more efficient quality control process.
“The solutions Technopath has developed have dramatically helped us to improve the quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness of our laboratory quality control processes,” notes Dowling.
Northwell Health has signed a 50-50 joint venture agreement with Technopath with a view to promoting the Irish companies’ offering to labs all over the US. “Ours is one of the biggest labs run by a health system in the US. We perform more than 30 million tests and analyse 200,000 surgical specimens a year,” says Dowling.
Salaso Health Solutions, which is based in Co Kerry, has developed a platform which allows patients to use their smartphones or tablets to access and interact with high-definition video exercises prescribed for them by their clinicians.
Northwell Health has also signed a strategic partnership with them. This builds on an existing contract it had with the Irish company to provide online care management services to stroke survivors and patients with movement disorders and other neurological conditions.
Under the agreement, Northwell Health is investing in Salaso Health Solutions so it can develop its solution further, expanding the scope of the online rehabilitation care to patients with cancer, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder] and other medical conditions.
“We are always interested in solutions that can improve clinical outcomes. Salaso’s app can improve what a patient does at home after they have been treated by a doctor so they don’t have to come back to the hospital and are more knowledgeable,” notes Dowling.
Until two years ago, Dowling didn’t appreciate the scale of the entrepreneurial developments that have occurred in Ireland. “I spent a couple of days going around to a lot of companies with Enterprise Ireland and I was completely blown away,” he says. “The capabilities and competency that exist in Ireland, especially in areas such as Medtech, are phenomenal. In my view, this is down to the education system and the innovative spirit, personality and knowledge of the people.”
One of the areas where Irish Medtech companies are particularly strong is digital health, according to Dowling.
“Everything is becoming more democratised because of the access consumers have to mobile phones. We do business with other countries, but there is nothing as expansive as what Irish companies are doing in the whole digital health and customer experience space,” he says.
“The consumer is the biggest change agent in healthcare. We have to deliver what the consumer wants; the consumer will not accept what I would like to give them. The innovations coming out of Ireland fit right in with that.”
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Growing from a small, open economy like Ireland’s has encouraged its Medtech companies to be global in outlook. That global perspective is a key driver of the growth that allowed Ireland to become recognised as the best location in the world to design, develop and manufacture medical technologies. Ireland is now the second largest exporter of medical devices in the EU, with exports valued at €12.5bn annually.
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