Throughout the past 18-(plus) months, healthcare providers and patients alike have grown more familiar with and confident in utilizing digital and remote healthcare solutions.
The combination of Ireland’s long history of supporting health technology upstarts, entrepreneurs, and established multinationals has positioned the country as a hotbed for development and innovation. Telehealth and digital health innovations utilizing a sophisticated level of AI, data mining, cloud platform integrations, IoT devices, and patient self-help platforms are now firmly at the forefront of healthcare service development.
As a result, we expect to see a high level of advancement specifically within homecare with deeper virtual interaction with healthcare professionals, including video-based virtual appointments. Brick and mortar hospitals and healthcare systems, emergency departments, and ICUs will also evolve to use data from live and historical collection points to provide improved, more responsive care and enhanced patient outcomes.
A Global Healthcare Disruption
In the U.S. in early 2020, digital telemedicine was utilized by roughly 11% of patients and clinicians. That percentage more than quadrupled to 46% by the end of the year. From a digital technology perspective, over $3 billion of venture capital was invested into digital health within the last three quarters of 2020, illustrating an enormous pivot within V.C. investment and technology adoption.
While Europe and the U.S. operate on different playing fields, for the most part, the changes that we’re seeing are being felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Regulation has been relaxed across the board from the FDA, as well as from a European Medical Agency perspective.
In the U.S., we saw the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) implementation for new technologies to combat COVID. In Europe, they postponed implementing the Medical Device Reporting regulation (21 CFR Part 803) that contains mandatory requirements for manufacturers, importers, and device-user facilities to report certain device-related adverse events and product problems to the FDA for at least another year.
This reevaluation of regulations has undoubtedly helped get many new technologies implemented and adopted, and also created forward momentum for developing a new generation of medical devices and standard procedures. From a U.S. and European standpoint, there’s strong alignment in this area.
Just as the pandemic demanded collaboration among states within the U.S., it also encouraged the U.S. and European countries (including Ireland) to work more closely together. The experience has brought all agencies and industries to think in a much more synergistic manner, which has been a positive development.
The future of medtech is being developed now, and as we all move forward, Irish innovation is uniquely positioned with its thriving digital health sector to collaborate with global partners to foster mutual success at a global scale.