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UK and Ireland collaborate to catalyse digital health innovation

Following our work to support The First 100 Playbook, we have been working with Ireland’s Health Service Executive and the Department for International Trade with their efforts to accelerate digital innovation. 

shaking hands. collaboration

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) and the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) have announced a collaboration to accelerate digital innovation and propel Ireland’s potential as a European digital leader.

The new collaboration was announced at a virtual trade mission hosted by the British Embassy in Dublin in October and opened by Paul Johnston, British Ambassador to Ireland, and attended by Professor Martin Curley, Director of Digital Transformation at the HSE; Dr Simon Eccles, Deputy Chief Executive of NHSX and Chief Clinical Information Officer for Health and Care, NHS England.

The collaboration is expected to bring mutual benefits to the health systems in both the UK and Ireland and will involve the exploration of opportunities to tap into the UK’s burgeoning digital health sector, with a particular focus on the expertise highlighted through the DIT Digital Health Playbook – a publication from Healthcare UK that highlights the best in breed of UK digital and ICT solutions

In a video message broadcast at the event, Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health in Ireland, spoke of the changes the health sector has experienced due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it is now more important than ever “to learn from each other and to build links between industry and our health services that will ultimately benefit patients in both our health systems”. He spoke of the Irish Government’s commitment to the Sláintecare reform programme and how digital health is central to its ambition to “deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time”.

Summing up, Minister Donnelly said: “The HSE’s Digital Transformation Strategy aims to make Ireland a Digital Health leader in Europe by 2025. We are on track to achieve this. I look forward to the strengthening of our mutually beneficial and collaborative relationship into the future.”

The HSE’s “Shift Left, Stay Left” digital transformation strategy, which is underpinned by the Sláintecare health policy to transform Ireland’s health and social care services, aims to use technology to help keep people well and keep people at home.

Professor Martin Curley, Director of Digital Transformation at Ireland’s Health Service Executive, said: “Our digital strategy is ambitious, yet determined. ‘Stay Left, Shift Left’ is about the use of technology to move people as quickly as possible from an acute, to a community, to a home setting. In forming this collaboration, we are looking to tap into the digital innovation and expertise that is out there that can do this, and can do this quickly.”

At the event, ten UK digital health companies, who all feature in the DIT Digital Health playbook, pitched their solutions to the evaluation team to explore the possibility of HSE investment.

Hassan Chaudhury, Global Digital Health Specialist for Healthcare UK said: “The DIT Digital Health Playbook contains a unique 10 part taxonomy focusing on needs. It articulates the exportable strengths that the UK has in health tech and showcases those that stand out for being tried and tested and most importantly, making a difference across one of the most complex health systems in the world, during its most challenging time. I am excited to see how this taxonomy can combine with the HSE innovation on ‘Stay Left, Shift Left’ methodology for the benefit of citizens and health systems.“

Peter Harnett, Trade Adviser at the British Embassy noted: “This is an exciting opportunity to foster a UK/Ireland digital health collaboration that not only raises the profile of both countries digital transformation experiences, but showcases the UK sector capabilities while also inspiring UK and Irish organisations to look to their nearest neighbour for new digital health partnerships. No doubt this will lead to benefits to the health care systems within both countries.”

With follow up discussions between the members of the UK delegation and the HSE under way, a future event on digital health collaboration between the UK and Ireland is in its early planning stages for 2022.