I attended the inaugural North America Healthcare Forum (the “Forum”) hosted by Enterprise Ireland which took place on the 18th and 19th September last. This two day event allowed for clients of Enterprise Ireland and those working in the healthcare sector the opportunity to consult with senior executives in healthcare systems and hospitals across the United States and Canada. The Forum allowed for insightful discussions into the major challenges affecting hospitals within the US, Canada and Ireland, and the similarities and differences between each healthcare system.

Innovation and Technology

A similarity existing across all three countries is evident in the room and opportunity available for innovation within the sector. This opportunity appears somewhat larger for Ireland where there is considerable scope for development and expansion in comparison to our counterparts in the US and Canada.

An interesting discussion was held relating to system-wide connectivity and patient engagement, which predominately focused on the idea of allowing patients remote access to services, providing them with the ability to schedule appointments electronically, view their health records online etc. This would fulfil the demands of patients who wish to act independently and to proactively monitor their records. It also keeps the sector in line with modern society and allows for greater accessibility for patients.

The various panels agreed that these novel ideas can grow from instilling a culture of innovation within the sector and discussions were had on how to help generate innovative ideas internally through education and encouragement. The Da Vinci surgical system sparked interest on the discussion panel and the scope for competition within this sector. This technology allows surgeons to operate through minimal incisions and allows for enhanced vision through a magnified high-definition vision system. This advanced development is intended to aid in performing greater rotations and bends that the human hand is not capable of carrying out and has been quite significant for the sector.

It was clear from the comments of the various panel members that this is most definitely an area that could be exploited, and that further ideas on break-through innovation and competition should grow in this area.

The Future

Innovation and technology are at the forefront of development and the healthcare sector is no exception to this. The Forum allowed for stimulating conversation and discussion around the areas where this could be improved, and facilitated a comparison between the three countries. It will be interesting to see and hear of the developments that emerge within the next year and whether ideas discussed at this Forum will have advanced further.