Overview of the Event

The 13th eHealth Ireland Ecosystem Gathering took place in Dublin City University Alpha Talent Garden, Dublin on Thursday 1st November 2018.  The theme was ‘Unlocking Data for Better Health Outcomes’ and the gathering was facilitated by Enterprise Ireland. Attracting 127 attendees, the Ecosystem offered a varied agenda and provided a platform for some 18 multi-sector speakers to share their work. This gathering continued the eHealth Ireland Ecosystem commitment to maintaining robust cross- sectoral partnerships across Ireland. 

Welcome and Introductions

Martin Curley, Chief Information Officer, Health Service Executive welcomed all, and noted the large number of participants present. Martin detailed the importance of data in healthcare quoting one of Sun Microsystems co-founders Vinod Khosla, who famously said “the next ten years data science and software will do more for medicine than all of the biological sciences together.”  The importance of the new digital innovation strategy Stay left Shift left which aims to move our focus from repair-care to health-care was outlined and Martin promised to address the group again at the end of the day. 

Kevin Ryan, Senior Adviser, Enterprise Ireland outlined the commitment of Enterprise Ireland to businesses working in IT and in Healthcare.  

The Ecosystem was moderated Brian O’Connor, Chair, European Connected Health Alliance who framed the agenda for the day and welcomed attendees 

Mark Bennett, Manager, DCU Alpha Talent Garden, hosts, explained that the Talent Garden offers start-up facilities and global connections, through the Talent Garden Network

‘Driving better care through Health Promotion and Improvement ‘

In his presentation, Muiris O’Connor, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health outlined how the Sláintecare Strategy commits to a broad ranging Health Information Policy for the Health Service and an early priority of this is a Health Service Data Strategy. He said “the management of information is absolutely critical to our ability to address the social and healthcare needs of our population today”.

Muiris explained that the mission statement of the Department of Health is “to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Ireland” and in order to achieve this; we need to connect the data sets in ICT and also the Skillsets. We need to remove the isolation of ICT staff and we need to deliver early value. 

He outlined how the Sláintecare Strategy commits to a broad ranging Health Information Policy for the Health Service and an early priority of this is a Health Service Data Strategy. Within the Department of Health, the project has commenced recently to implement this and there will be engagement with relevant stakeholders in the coming months. 

Muiris concluded by explaining how the time is now to deliver on the promise of Health and we have both a wonderful opportunity and a major responsibility to deliver a world class health system for all. 

HSE National Health and Social Care Data Dictionary

During their presentation, Martin Tully, Enterprise Information Architecture Lead, HSE and Dr Pamela Hussey, Lecturer, Director of Centre eIntegrated Care DCU outlined the ongoing work in the HSE and DCU to link Irish standards to the World Health Organisation Framework.  

He explained that it defines the properties associated with all types of data, but that the ultimate objective is to have a central area of metadata which can be used by vendors, future clinical projects and project managers in the HSE to refer to when going to market for solutions.

Child growth data in new growth charts 

An international perspective was provided by Kari Kohtamaki, Key Account Manager, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. 

He explained how VTT have pioneered an eHealth System in Finland which enables parents to track the health growth of their children. The app based system works by providing carers and parents with tools typically used by nurses and doctors. The parents take measurements and input data such as height, weight and vaccination history. The feedback to parents enables proactive healthcare and has allowed them to see the progress of their child.

Unlocking data – Industry Perspectives 

Industry perspectives were provided by: 


Clare Harney, CEO, Jinga Life outlined their system to enable data collection from

people in their homes as well as in the Health Ecosystem.

Niall Rafferty, CEO, MedxNote advised on how the MedxNote clinical messenger app

system allows clinicians to connect with each other and with other eHealth systems

Mark O’Connor, Public Sector Manager, Three.ie Ireland explained their desire to engage

with data management partners and outlined the ambition for their carrier service to expand into this area.             


Networking Coffee & Exhibitions 

The networking break saw lots of useful discussion between the speakers, attendees and exhibitors.

Options Track A and Track B

Attendees were offered two track options of interesting sessions. This proved successful allowing attendees to participate in the track most relevant to their needs, and maximised the opportunities for Ecosystem members to showcase their work.


Data and the Dementia Registry 

Dr Louise Hopper, Assistant Professor, Psychology/Dementia Studies, DCU outlined the progress of The National Dementia Registry Project which commenced in May this year. She noted that the key to a successful data registry is the use of the data dictionary to ensure the dementia registry will be able to cross reference with other registries. Having this interoperability will also ensure that in time we will be able to map peoples’ health more comprehensively using the different registries in conjunction with one another.

Using data to support better Healthcare Outcomes – Global Case Studies

Conor Cullen, AI Product Development Manager, IBM Watson Health noted  IBM’s commitment to healthcare. He explained that IBM are the developing products and services  which combine human and artifical intelligence to create Augmented Intelligence. He explained how IBM use AI to make sense of unstructured notes which make up 80% of data within the health system. These notes are often written and typed and important data can be hidden and missed by GP’s due to the size of the notes and the brief time the GP has to read the notes. 

Flavia Rovis, Director, Population Health Europe, Cerner noted how, by working together with both industry, clinicians and academic groups,  Cerner have created intelligent systems to digitize healthcare information. This provides greater visibility and quality assurance, as well as saving time and allowing detailed  trend analysis and data filtration. 

Data related clinical challenges

Dr Ann Shortt, A+E Consultant, Mayo University Hospital, as well as a GP. She noted her frustration with people not being given medical data in a way they could understand. 
This led her to design a system which gives basic medical information to people to explain to them how to identify common symptoms for problems and how to interpret the results of tests they have had done. The system also facilitates automated triaging of patients in order to determine how critical a patient needs are to see a consultant.


Patient registries are vital to improve patient care 

Dr Abaigeal Jackson, Research Fellow, Cystic Fibrosis Registry of Ireland gave an excellent overview of the current status of the registry environment in Ireland and the areas covered including:
• Evaluating Health Policy
• Planning Health services
• Monitoring Health Status 

Data is changing our world – we want our research to ensure it’s changing for the better

Professor Brian Caufield
, Director, Insight Centre for Data Analytics showcased how the Centre is working with Industry, Government and Healthcare professionals to ensure that the data driven research is being utilised to improve patient care.

Advancing Digital Behavioural Change Interventions for Chronic Disease Management

Dr John Dinsmore, Head Innovation Lead, Trinity Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation spoke about the ‘ProAct’ initiative. This incorporates a behavioural change approach to deliver digital intervention to a complex healthcare system. 

Supporting Innovation & Economic Growth 

Noel Daly, Senior Development Advisor, Enterprise Ireland (EI) provided examples companies that Enterprise Ireland are working with in Ireland and across the world. He explained how EI can aid digital innovation start-ups in the areas of Research and Development, commercialisation and expansion across the globe and encouraged any companies that are looking for support to contact them.

He lauded the innovative spirit in Ireland and disclosed how Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) are ranked number one in Europe and number ten in the world for innovation.

The Digital Health Society & ECHAlliance International Ecosystem Network Update

Brian O’Connor, Chair, European Connected Health Alliance showcased the expansion of the ECHAlliance network internationally and as He explained that the European Connected Health Alliance offers support networks for a range of stakeholder groups comprising clinicians, start-ups and multi-nationals.

He emphasised that only by working together will we make a substantial difference in changing the face of healthcare and encouraged all attendees to get involved.

Ecosystem Closing 

Martin Curley, Chief Information Officer, Health Service Executive closed the Ecosystem who echoed the view that our eHealth Ecosystem is on the cusp of a significant breakthrough and that this is being helped with the recent announcement of an investment of 220 million Euro from the European Investment Bank (EIB) into the Irish eHealth system.

This is the first time the EIB has invested in eHealth, and Martin thanked Muiris O’Connor and the Department of Health for the work they have done in securing this investment.

Martin discussed project Oak which went live recently in St James’ Hospital and he said he derived great heart from the fact that a plan, which had been in development for five years, went off without a hitch and the fact that a transition from paper based to electronic information processing was seamless. Martin endorsed the work of the Quality Innovation Corridor (QIC) program and advised that the next round of funding for the initiative should begin early next year.

Martin ended by inviting attendees to stay for lunch and to continue with the networking and conversations while encouraging us to reconvene in Quarter 1 of 2019 for the next eHealth Ecosystem event.

He encouraged attendees to ‘Save the Date’ for the 3rd Joint eHI / NICH Ecosystem to be held on 9th January 2019.

Martin thanked everyone for attending encouraged attendees to enjoy the networking lunch and exhibitions.

Summary and Conclusion
The 13th Ecosystem was a success, building on the achievements of previous gatherings. Many attendees remarked on the breadth of the agenda and the useful networking opportunities provided. These gatherings provide a real platform for cross-pollination of expertise across industry, clinicians, patient groups and researchers. Support from Enterprise Ireland as a key stakeholder was hugely helpful, as was the broad reach of the ECHAlliance network.

Lessons learnt will ensure that we continue to improve and develop our approach to delivering success.

Presentations from the Ecosystem gathering are available on the eHealth Ireland website here.