With Brexit & GDPR on the horizon both Northern and South Ireland healthcare systems face challenging times to ensure the provision and continuity of health services to patients. With this in mind, I recently attended the 2nd eHealth Ireland and Northern Ireland Connected Health Ecosystem event, which was held in Dublin, and quite topically, the event focused on exploring North/South cross border collaboration opportunities and the impact of the GDPR.
This well attended event provided a great platform to showcase and share information, through networking and workshops. With a great line up of speakers from both healthcare systems, the event gave valuable insight into many areas. The speakers and sessions included:
- Yvonne Goff, Chief Clinical Information Officer opened the event but also delivered a presentation on the importance of cross border collaboration and emphasised how our eHealth systems must be interoperable and independent of borders.
- Mary McCarron, Dean of Health Services, also spoke at the event. She praised eHealth Ireland for their innovation and delivering improved care in Ireland. She also asked that patient always be kept as the key focus and to ensure that eHealth be accessible to all, especially those considered most vulnerable, such as the elderly. A surprise addition to the event was the visit of “Stevie the robot”, the prototype developed by Trinity college to provide assisted care either in the home or in care facilities. While it can’t perform physical tasks, it can provide some assistance by the means of providing medication reminders, contacting emergency services or enabling video calls.
- Muiris O’Connor, Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Health gave an informative session on the current collaboration between North/South Ireland and, reinforced the message that despite the impending Brexit, the continued development of North/South relationship was the best contingency for both healthcare systems in dealing with Brexit.
- Mark Lee, The Director of Primary Care at the Department of Health in Northern Ireland outlined the similarities in challenges faced by both the North/South healthcare systems, namely ageing populations, lifestyle challenges and adapting to emerging technologies. His key message highlighted the importance of partnership approach between both North/South was pivotal for both to deliver a sustainable system for patients.
- Jane Carolan, CIO and National Director of Health Business Services, addressed the challenges of delivering healthcare Innovation while also giving details of the HSE’s Knowledge and Information plan and discussing how hospitals can maximize care through the use of technology. Interestingly, Jane also gave details on some recent projects such as the national Electronic Health Record. She went through Rotunda hospital new born HER project and noted Holles Street was about to go live with theirs. Hearing real-life implementations provided valuable insight on the use of technology within healthcare. Jane’s key message focused on the importance of people to deliver change and keep move forward, which is a very apt message, while technology plays a valuable role in supporting and enabling healthcare professionals, the people themselves are key to delivering quality care.
- Liam McIvor, CEO Business Services Organisation, Northern Ireland, continued the theme of real-life examples by giving an overview of some of the regional projects rolled out in Northern Ireland such as, the Radiology Order Communications system, and their regional mortality and morbidity system which went live in 2016.
- Fran Thompson, Director for Engagement and Delivery, delivered an insightful session which detailed the EHR persona development project, from it’s evolution to where it is today where we have both patient and healthcare personas and scenarios in place.
The day continued with talks on EHC Alliance International Ecosystem network, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Research Data sharing and The Digital Health Society and Cross Border Collaboration Projects in Action.
Lastly, Piret Hirv from the Ministry of Social Affairs in Estonia delivered the presentation on ehealth in Estonia. His presentation showcased the great strides Estonia have taken in ehealth which detailed some impressive statistics such as, they have 99% of state services online, 99% of all prescriptions being digital and 100 % of their citizens have a National Digital Health Record. This is an impressive achievement for the Estonian healthcare system!
Overall, this was a great event which provided attendees with valuable information and great insights into projects implemented from both North/South Ireland healthcare systems. This knowledge sharing and effective collaboration can only be beneficial, ensuring a sustainable healthcare system that most importantly provides patients with the best quality healthcare.