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Future of Healthcare Q1 2023

Enabling national healthcare transformation — together

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Susan Treacy

CEO, HealthTech Ireland

Today, it is clear that digital health works. The Health Tech Innovation Awards have featured proven digital solutions to improve people’s health; speed up treatments; shrink administrative delays and burdens; and free up medics to be medics.

At the 10th Health Tech Innovation Awards, patient speaker Gary Boyle described how a group of fellow Parkinson’s patients moved online during the Covid-19 pandemic despite challenges with technology and their circumstances. This is an example — in a microcosm — of the challenges our health system is now facing up to. 

Embracing the new world 

Knowing digital solutions work is not enough. The pandemic has accelerated a process that had been underway for some time. We have moved from old certainties in all sectors, like the five-day week, office-based employment and discrete, predictable business sectors.  

This new normality can understandably be unnerving. Organisations are worried about making a terminal strategic decision, and with so much uncertainty and complexity, governments move cautiously in committing taxpayer money. What is positive is organisations are recognising that creating a roadmap and removing blockers together while accepting some level of calculated risk is necessary to ultimately ensure we, as a society, reap the benefits.

We have moved from old certainties in all sectors, like the five-day week, office-based employment and discrete, predictable business sectors.  

New era for leadership 

Another important factor, widely recognised globally in delivering success and tangible outputs in this new world, is effective leadership. Clay Christensen, distinguished Harvard Business school professor, provides insights on leadership when moving to a new state for any industry.  

One challenge to adoption is around existing proven, learned management principles. These principles can hinder reaching organisational innovation goals because they favour the existing established processes.  

Managers are not rewarded for taking small risks, and to realise that failing and learning within defined boundaries is essential. This is further exacerbated when the system in question is health.  

Collaboration for delivery 

A critical shift in delivering digital transformation is the state and private sector meeting these challenges together. Sharing information and insights, cooperating on finding solutions and focusing on connecting the dots to improve every citizen’s experience. In Ireland, this is already actively underway. HealthTech Ireland continues in its 41st year to support these conversations, promote innovative solutions and work in a spirit of trust and openness with stakeholders across the sector to support this evolution.  

We particularly welcome the consultative work being carried out currently in the drafting of the HSE National Digital Strategy and the HSE Evaluation Framework for Innovation initiatives, as well as the funding pathways being put in place to deliver solutions for patients. This work and its outputs will deliver a more transformative, resilient and equitable healthcare system for all of us.  

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