The digital health sector has experienced significant growth in the past twelve months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Patients, no longer able to engage with healthcare professionals in a face-to-face capacity, became more and more familiar with digital health platforms and telehealth as a means of communication and, in a sense, began to bring the hospital into the home. People have quickly adapted to the use of virtual appointments and remote monitoring, resulting in digital health becoming one of the leading ways for clinicians to interact with their patients. This adoption has been reflected in the substantial growth of the digital health market which was estimated to be worth approximately $120.2 billion in 2020 and is set to increase to $480.1 billion by the end of 2027, according to BlueWeave Consulting.
These trends are no more apparent than in the Northeastern United States, where New York and Boston are leading the way in terms of funding digital health innovation. This is evidenced by approximately $4.7 billion in funds raised within the sector in 2020, as well as 149 deals secured, according to Startup Health Report.
As an increasing number of healthcare systems and organizations in the Northeast look to digital solutions to improve patient care, innovative Irish companies continue to set themselves apart from competitors within this digital landscape.
With extensive expertise in the MedTech and pharmaceutical industries, Irish companies demonstrated their ability to pivot quickly when the pandemic hit. This adaptability helped to position Ireland as fifth in the world for the export of COVID-19 related products and services, and sixth in the global market of countries that responded best in terms of innovation to the pandemic. Going forward, Ireland is uniquely positioned with its thriving digital health sector to collaborate with global partners to achieve business goals and fast-track the roadmap to innovation.
“We’ve seen strong growth over the last year in the use of remote monitoring technology, and the widespread acceptance of this innovation is driving a significant increase in new technology and product development,” said David Corcoran, Head of New England & Midwest USA, Enterprise Ireland. “The combination of Ireland’s long history of fostering and supporting health technology start-ups, entrepreneurs and established multi-nationals has positioned Ireland as a hotbed for development and innovation.”
Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s trade and innovation agency, who partners with Irish enterprises to help them grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets, estimates that there are roughly 180 domestic life sciences companies in Ireland employing more than 25,000 people, and generating annual sales of more than $6 billion. These indigenous life sciences companies include pharma, biotech, diagnostics, and therapeutics, but the lion’s share are medical device businesses. With the digital health era well and truly upon us, Irish companies excelling in this space in the United States include;
- Shimmer Research, a leading provider of wearable wireless sensor products and solutions, partnered with the University of South Florida in 2020 to research how Shimmer’s wearable device can help detect and assess the progression of COVID-19 in those who are most at-risk. Since then, Shimmer’s wearable technology has been selected for several studies including a study to monitor participants’ brain health at the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine funded by the American Heart Association in collaboration with global philanthropist Bill Gates. Shimmer Research also recently developed and launched the NeuroLynQ@Home remote psychophysiological monitoring system.
- patientMpower is a digital healthcare company providing technology solutions for people living with long-term illnesses. patientMpower is passionate about empowering better outcomes by enabling patients to better manage their care and providing unique data insights for healthcare providers and researchers to improve treatments. Their solutions ensure that specialist healthcare teams, including the team at NYU Langone Health, can remotely monitor patients with respiratory conditions without the need for patients to attend the hospital. This technology has also been crucial in enabling US health providers, including New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, to enable the early hospital discharge of patients recovering from COVID-19.
- LetsGetChecked is a virtual care company that ships at-home health tests right to a patient’s front door. Right from their own homes, patients can complete a personal health record, receive medical review and support, collect their samples, and easily access results and health records. LetsGetChecked offers an FDA EUA-authorized home collection COVID-19 molecular diagnostic (RT-PCR/TMA) solution and owns all aspects of the testing service, including its high-complexity laboratory in the US and another in Dublin, Ireland.
- The Salaso Health platform is a HIPAA-compliant and secure telemedicine service that allows healthcare providers to continue patient-centered care remotely, including secure video consultations and live exercise demonstrations. Using the platform, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physical therapists can reach out to patients through a telemedicine visit and assign specific exercises during the virtual appointment. The extensive previous experience of Salaso in delivering virtual rehabilitation in value-based healthcare settings in Europe enabled the company to bring insights in providing effective rehabilitation for both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients to its US customers, including New York’s Northwell Health Hospitals.
“As remote devices, cloud solutions, and intuitive tools like artificial intelligence become more available and accepted in the industry, healthcare organizations are looking to integrate these technologies to be much more responsive to patient needs,” said Aoife Ni Mhuiri, Founder & CEO, Salaso Health. “The technology allows healthcare providers to do more with less, while at the same time actually collecting more accurate and detailed information. The pandemic brought remote health services to the top of our minds and led the healthcare industry to the realization that many opportunities and benefits exist when providing health services remotely. The future of MedTech is being developed now — this is a very exciting period of growth.”