The eHealth Ireland Ecosystem Celebrates 12 Months of Progress

Over one hundred and sixty delegates met at the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin 4 on Wednesday 29th of June for the fifth eHealth Ireland Ecosystem event which also marked the one year anniversary of the launch of the eHealth Ireland Ecosystem.   The Ecosystem has established itself quickly over the last 12 months, bringing together a wide range of stakeholders to generate a high quality set of recommendations for advancing the eHealth Strategy in Ireland.  Many of the day’s speakers congratulated Ecosystem stakeholders and contributors for generating such excitement and momentum around eHealth. Attendees at this Ecosystem workshop included members of the Department of Health, HSE, hospital clinicians, academia, service providers and software vendors.  The purpose of the event was to report progress on achievements to date and spotlight current innovation projects.

Richard Corbridge, Chief Information Officer for the HSE, opened the event introducing Muiris O’Connor, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health.  Muiris reminded those present of the need to respond through the management and delivery of healthcare services to our citizens who are now “active participants” rather than “passive recipients”.

Attendees networking at the event
Delegates networking at the event

Delegates were given a brief update by Michael Nerney on how his company is working to achieve a national laboratory record. The rapid growth of the Council of Clinical Information Officers (CCIO) as outlined by Michelle Kearns, is another indicator of the eHealth Ireland Ecosystem’s progress.  Plans to further extend the CCIO include the establishment of special interest groups and new international relationships.  Gregory Johnston completed the trio of Ecosystem updates with a report on the exponential growth of the National eReferral Rollout Programme, with over 10,550 e-referrals made in May alone.  Next steps include trial use in community health settings.

Keynote speaker Niall Harbison, founder of Lovin’ Dublin, inspired the audience with his vision for an integrated Health system, aspects of which are already underway according to Richard Corbridge in his report on the Ecosystem’s work to date.  Richard explained that the Ecosystem has “supported eHealth Ireland in moving forward, in doing different things around eHealth, in doing work that is people focused and concerned with health and wellbeing”. To spontaneous applause from the audience he presented the achievements of eHealth Ireland under Communication, Transparency and Stakeholder engagement, of which the Ecosystem is a key mechanism.  The challenge for Year 2 is Digital Identity and Richard announced that Ireland will be the first EU member to adopt a “Health Cloud First Policy”.

Siobhain Duggan, Director of Innovation and Healthcare at GS1 Ireland, introduced Pauline Biggane, Project Manager for the Reusable Invasive Medical Devices programme and Hannah McMahon, Central Decontamination Unit manager at Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital. Pauline and Hannah presented a track and trace case study involving the unique identification standards in tracing surgical instruments and endoscopes.

Siobhain Duggan, GS1 Ireland

Brian O’Connor concluded the morning session by acknowledging the enthusiasm, inclusivity, determination and contribution of all those involved in the eHealth Ireland Ecosystem saying that it is recognised as one of the stars of the 30 European ecosystems.

During the afternoon eHealth Showcase session Siobhain Duggan spoke about innovative solutions driven by the need for standardisation and interoperability.  Declan Fitzgerald, Manager Director of DMF Systems, introduced the GeneCIS Clinical Portal and Mel McIntyre, Manager Director of OpenApp, presented on patient centred care through the Irish National Orthopeadic Register.

As with previous Ecosystem workshops, the opportunity to network and collaborate was a priority. Delegate interaction was facilitated throughout the day and during a session dedicated to exploring identification and consent parameters related to Electronic Health Records.  Round table discussions followed presentations by Damon Berry, Lecturer at DIT on identity management for healthcare and Paul Fahey, Business Development Officer at Pharmapod on the fundamental requirements for consent.  The delegates highlighted potential challenges that might be encountered and explored possible solutions for overcoming such issues. Martin Tully concluded the day highlighting the progress in creating an integrated infrastructure platform that will service all ehealth domains.

ICS Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Finally, Mary Cleary, Deputy CEO of the Irish Computer Society/Health Informatics Society of Ireland brought a productive workshop to a close.