We are leading the way in health and prosperity agenda: Ministers tell Europe

Northern Ireland’s forward thinking approach to employing state-of-the-art technology to improve outcomes in health and boost its economy is paying dividends and worth investing in.

That was the key message from Health Minister Edwin Poots and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster as they launched a unique event at the European Parliament in Brussels to raise awareness among European leaders of the innovative collaborations taking place in Northern Ireland in Connected Health.

The Northern Ireland Connected Health and Prosperity Event, which opens today (January 29), is hosted by Diane Dodds MEP. It takes place over two days at the European Parliament in Brussels. The aim of the event – which includes a number of seminars and an exhibition - is to demonstrate how Northern Ireland, through a unique collaboration between the Department of Health and Invest NI, is using innovation and technology in health to improve patient outcomes and promote the local economy.

At the event, the two Ministers are due to meet with Tonio Borg, European Commissioner Health and Consumer Policy and Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. They will draw to the Commissioners’ attention the success Northern Ireland has had in this field as well as emphasising that more can be achieved in collaboration with the EU.

Health, academic and business leaders from across Europe are also expected to attend the event to see first hand the Northern Ireland Connected Health Eco-System where businesses, universities and Health and Social Care system (HSC) collaborate to develop techniques that not only improve health care but also boost the economy.

Health Minister Edwin Poots, who had recently updated the Assembly on the necessity and benefits of Connected Health, said: “I am very much looking forward to sharing with leaders across Europe our example of bringing health and prosperity together. Our mission here is simple: demonstrate how Connected Health and Prosperity agenda is working in Northern Ireland and we will attract more interest, expertise and investment. This can only improve the ways we deliver health care.

“It is important that Europe sees what Northern Ireland has to offer as this will help us progress and prosper.”

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “Healthcare is one of the key industries capable of delivering a strong knowledge–based economy and in Northern Ireland many of our companies are at the forefront of the connected health and medical devices sector. Treating more people in their homes will be a major feature of future health services, offering significant opportunities for industry and academia to commercialise research and ultimately improve patient care.”

Companies from Northern Ireland who are attending the event include: Kainos; Intelesens; Exploristics; Connected Health Ltd; EMC and Yarra Software. In addition, representatives from Queens University, the University of Ulster, Belfast City Council, the Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) and the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHA) will also be in attendance. They will be joined at the event by health leaders. Exhibits include new technology from QUB which helps older adults with fall prevention, the latest innovations in monitoring patients at home rather than in hospital and a demonstration from UU on point of care monitoring.