Prof John Higgins
Lead Principal investigator, Health Innovation Hub Ireland
Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) works across the health sector with industry developing new healthcare technologies, products, and services that will ultimately help to create Irish jobs and exports.
One of the exciting things for us here working in the healthcare sector, is that Ireland is ideally placed to be a world leader in the provision of total connected health solutions. We have a highly networked ecosystem and the industry expertise required to embrace the convergence between health and the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the future of healthcare globally.
From improved diagnostics to innovative prosthetics or profitable data management, the combined health and healthcare sector continues to show enormous growth potential. Many of the world’s top medical technology companies have invested significantly in Ireland and a number of exciting, research-based, indigenous companies are emerging and competing internationally. In fact, 50% of companies in the Irish medtech sector are indigenous.
Linking hospitals and primary academic partners
The Irish government has identified the medical technology sector as one of the key drivers of industrial growth for the future and provides a wide range of supports to encourage and foster this growth, not least Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI). Connecting new products with people qualified to test them – industry and clinical teams – through usability, pilot and validation studies, supports the development of new healthcare technologies, in real-life clinical settings.
Organising our hospitals into hospital groups linked to a primary academic partner brings the right people together.
It means that companies are gaining invaluable sight and authoritative feedback about how their product works or indeed if it requires modification, prior to commercialisation. Simultaneously, the health service accesses products and services that they may not ordinarily be able to use and ultimately, we benefit patient care.
The move worldwide is towards personalised healthcare that empowers the patient, largely through connected health. There is unparalleled potential in this to reduce the burden on acute settings. Broadly speaking, this could mean there are fewer patients attending hospital and more care takes place in the community. This is the direction that we should be taking our health service in and HIHI can help with that.
Ireland has combined exports from our life sciences and ICT sectors of over €140 billion annually. The health service needs products to meet its particular needs and enterprise needs guidance from qualified users on developing products. We can positively leverage the strengths of enterprise to deliver innovation into our health system, while creating an international reputation for Ireland as a leader in connected health development.