A hub accelerating healthcare innovation and commercialisation through addressing healthcare challenges
Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) is Ireland’s first innovation hub and is a partnership of clinical and academic centres across Ireland with the objective of accelerating healthcare innovation and commercialisation through addressing healthcare challenges. There are four centres; Cork (2), Galway and Dublin. HIHI advises and supports enterprises to progress their innovative products, services and technologies in the Irish and global healthcare markets. They pilot market-ready solutions in real-world healthcare settings, validate prototypes with healthcare experts and verify ideas that meet healthcare and market needs. They provide guidance and advice on health priority needs, product development, regulatory requirements and procurement. HIHI also promotes cultural change in the healthcare system to support and drive innovation from within. The Irish government recognises the need for an integrated healthcare system to enable older people to remain at home for longer. HIHI in Cork supported the enterprise ‘CareFolk’, who developed an integrated care platform (web & mobile) for clinicians, health professionals and community services for the assessment, management, co-ordination and review of patients. One clinician reported Carefolk ‘reduced my admin time by up to 50%’. This pilot allowed sharing of patient information between care team members. Following completion, this has been recommended with the addition of extra features to the national health service.
11.5 FTEs – (HIHI National Manager, HIHI Manager Cork, Galway & Dublin, health & communications personnel)
HIHI centres are funded by Enterprise Ireland the national health service
Evidence of success
Since 2016, HIHI has engaged with 575 enterprises and 380 healthcare staff. They are involved in 150 projects. Engagement with enterprises and healthcare staff has accelerated in the last three years. 600 healthcare staff have attended promotional events e.g. roadshow, 90 healthcare staff have attended innovation workshops and 34 have completed the Postgrad diploma in Health Innovation.
Innovation in healthcare can take a long time and is very costly. For example, a medical device from idea to a product on the market can take 7 to 10 years. Technical difficulties - piloting new products and services and integrating into existing IT systems. Procurement difficulties
Potential for learning or transfer
HIHI was set up by a unique collaborative partnership of two government departments (Department of Health and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation) and is funded by Enterprise Ireland and the Health Service Executive (National Health Service. Although the innovation hub has experienced some difficulties since start-up, it has been very successful in the number of enterprises it has supported and the number of healthcare staff it has engaged with. HIHI are currently preparing a 5-year business plan and the national health service has committed to funding an FTE with procurement expertise. HIHI is an example of a good practice that supports businesses in the Silver Economy to innovate and develop healthcare solutions for older adults. This good practice has the potential to be replicated across European regions.
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