At the Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland (HISI) conference I was quoted as saying,

‘Investment in technology for health should not be seen as an investment in IT but an investment in the delivery and improvement of health care for Ireland.’

A friendly face got in touch via social media to say that whilst paradoxes were always fun this made their head hurt, and to some degree I can understand why. It’s mid-December, that jolly fellow in red with the white beard will soon be delivering presents to all of those children who have spent 2015 being especially good. However when it comes to IT for health the gift doesn’t come for free.

Should health systems invest in technology as the catalyst for reform and improvement? I have always said that technology should not be the catalyst for reform and that clinical engagement is the most important element that has to come first, but if the engagement is achieved then technology is the apparatus to make so much happen more efficiently, more safely and ultimately achieve the global governmental mantra, ‘do more for less’.

You only get to do more for less though as a long game. Putting out fires will not enable capacity to plan for efficiency, it will only keep the fires just about out. Is health technology structurally immune to being Ubered, a noun recently coined by Matt Ballantine in CIO magazine? The engaged clinicians of Ireland want and expect technology to be innovative and to optimise the solutions in place. Clinicians are crying out for the Uber approach to health care technology delivery. With an investment in technology for health there is the ability to both optimise and be innovative, but with the legacy of under investment in technology so profound in Ireland then an acceptance of what is being optimised needs to be got to, somehow.

Plans for investment in healthcare technology need to be measured, considered and realistic. Too often in other jurisdictions large sums of money has been seen as a rapid solution provider for the reform of healthcare through technology. This will not be the case in Ireland. In 2016 eHealth Ireland will use newly identified budget to deliver solutions that prove the case for investment in technology as a route to improved healthcare delivery. These projects are currently known as Lighthouse Projects and include specific systems to cover;

Epilepsy Care – Building on the success of the Electronic Health Record already in place and considering how genomics sequencing could benefit people with this disease.

Haemophilia – Adding to the success of solutions deployed that enable the patient to access their record from a mobile solution and the supply chain management of treatments into the home

Bipolar Disorder – Taking an area devoid of technology on a global scale to support the care provision and looking at how it could be done in Ireland first, globally.

eHealth Ireland wants to show health providers throughout the world how a considered investment in IT in the health arena is an investment in magic, how ‘IT’ really can innovate in a vertical way and change the way care is delivered, not as the catalyst but as the stabilising agent and apparatus for reform.