We are seeking to maximise healthcare resources and provide more flexible opportunities for patients (and often families/care-givers) to engage with clinicians and health providers to better self-manage their own care. By applying connected health technologies we want to change our view of health care spend as not just simply a cost, but instead as an investment which generates health and economic benefits.
Locally there are companies and organisations working across various streams - telehealth, remote care (such as homecare), disease, and lifestyle management. These developments are not limited to managing chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease; dementia and diabetes. Instead all aspects of health provision are being examined in order to deliver best patient care. Indeed, the European Commission has recently awarded Northern Ireland the maximum of three stars as a reference site for Active & Healthy Ageing. This recognition of best practice is based on the way in which older people are treated by integrated healthcare teams and integrated medicines management to improve their health status and quality of life.
This work is attracting significant investment, and the NI Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) based at the Ulster University’s Nanotechnology and Integrated BioEngineering Centre is creating industry-led collaborations supported by market focused research. This centre showcases Northern Ireland skills and works alongside health providers, international companies and academia to provide growth and collaboration opportunities.
Indeed this international recognition of local expertise and the work being undertaken is demonstrated through the European Connected Health Alliance. This is now an international organisation, which was created in Northern Ireland, and which has a remit to deliver leadership for the development of connected and health markets and practice across Europe, America and beyond.