On Wednesday 28th September, CWiT members Deloitte and other digital health and social care changemakers gathered at this year’s Smart Health Summit in Croke Park. This was our first in-person conference since the Covid-19 pandemic begun, so there was an element of excitement in the air! The day-long conference explored a plethora of topics relating to the fast-paced world of digital health.
Key areas discussed included how we can enable integrated care, continue to transform the patient experience, and continue to drive digital health transformation in both the acute and the community settings. Population health, preventative care, healthcare reimbursement models, ‘apps on prescription’, and protecting patient data were also hot topics of conversation. We got the opportunity to listen to European-wide perspectives with speakers from Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, and the UK which was insightful.
Our key takeaways were:
- Fail fast
- In health, and especially in digital health, if you don’t start something, it will never get done. Start NOW!
- Health interoperability and shared care record is arguably more important than any other digital health technology
- We need health interoperability standards in Ireland
- A strong communications campaign, training, and digital literacy is key for clinicians
- Cyber: we can no longer just focus on building our EHRs, we need to also focus on securing our medical records for our patients and our clinicians
- Building a safe and critical infrastructure in digital health should involve 4 key steps: 1) Trust 2) Awareness 3) Accessibility 4) Governance
- In Ireland and across Europe, we have found it challenging delivering digital health solutions in a standardised way. Health and social care can be a complex environment that requires strong collaboration and support from many different stakeholders
- Patients and clinicians often support digital health solutions where they demonstrate significant value
- Countries like Norway and Sweden have successfully created national digital health portals for citizens, and they have digitised some elements of their care pathway, keeping patients at home or in an outpatient setting where possible. There are also companies in Ireland creating tools with this vision in mind – so it is possible
- Read up on some key insights published in the HSE’s 2022 Waiting List Action Plan – the first year of a multi-annual reform programme to stabilise and reduce waiting lists and waiting times for elective care in Ireland, bringing about significant and lasting change in waiting list numbers
- It is challenging to measure items such as reduction in illness-related burden, value-add to academia, and increased patient autonomy which poses a challenge for health reimbursement
This conference allowed us to appreciate the complexity around delivering digital health solutions, and to exchange thoughts and views with fellow delegates at the break times. It was great to see and meet a mixed audience in attendance: Clinicians, health start-ups, software engineers, healthcare project and programme managers, academics, lawyers, and data scientists, to name but a few, were all present and invested in learning how we can work together to continue to drive digital health transformation for Ireland. In addition, it was the first technology-related conference we have ever attended where there was a fairly even split of women and men in the room which was absolutely fantastic to see!
In the end, the 2022 Smart Health Summit left us with cause to hope. The ball is rolling and everyone’s watching – it’s just a matter of time.
Written by Blessing Folayan