Health IT = Innovation Week Boston… Next Stop Ireland?


Looking at where VCs are putting their money is an easy way to identify sectors with perceived growth potential. The Affordable Care Act (known affectionately as “Obamacare”); a new additional 2.3% medical device tax; and continued uncertainty about the FDA approval process has led to big drop in VC funding dollars in the US life sciences industry in 2012. In fact, PwC have estimated that the medical device industry is down 30% in VC funding dollars and 22% in VC deals in Q2 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Remarkably, it does not seem that these challenges have impacted digital health, connected health, health technology or whatever term you might prefer to use. At the Health 2.0 San Francisco Fall event, the digital health accelerator RockHealth declared that VC funding dollars had increased by 70% and that VC deals had increased by 84% in Q3 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

So it should not be surprising that when Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick proclaimed that the third week in October would be known as “Innovation Week” in Boston that it was centered around two large health technology events.

The focus on the role of technology in healthcare began with a two-day event in the Massachusetts State House. The extensively named, “EU-US eHealth Marketplace & 2012 Transatlantic Health IT/eHealth Cooperation Assembly” was organised by the European Connected Health Alliance (ECH Alliance), the Northern Ireland Massachusetts Connection (NIMAC) and EU Commission. Essentially, the purpose of the event was to encourage the development of collaborations between the US and Europe in the area of connected health.

Among the attendees with a link to Enterprise Ireland were Irish companies SilverCloud Health and Cara Wellness whom exhibited and pitched their offerings at the assembly of 300 health tech executives, financiers, policy makers and health tech enthusiasts.

Headquartered in the National Digital Research Centre in Dublin, SilverCloud Health has a platform that allows healthcare providers and organisations to rapidly introduce health and wellness programs to their clients.

Through the collaboration of CASALA, ADA and Rigney Dolphin; CARAwellness has a technology that allows users gather information about their health from several technology sources so that they can keep an eye on their wellbeing and allow them share it with their carers. CARAwellness are able to do this through the use of medical technology, such as blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and sensors.

It was not just Irish health tech companies represented though – to promote eHealth Week 2013, Ciaran Cannon, T.D., Minister of State for Training and Skills concluded the two-day seminar with an invitation to all participants and their peers to come to the new convention centre in Dublin next May for the event – one of many conferences coinciding with Tourism Ireland’s “The Gathering 2013”.

Next up was the main event, the Connected Health Symposium 2012 presented by Partners HealthCare – the not-for-profit health care system that was founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Connected Health Symposium prides itself on being the place where healthcare and technology collide – and they’ve been colliding annually for 9 years now in Boston. The discussions ranged from the policy driving “meaningful use” to discussions on how Americans are embracing solutions for health and wellness voluntarily – an estimated 60% of US adults are tracking their weight, diet or exercise routine voluntarily (albeit about half of these engaged Americans are what Susannah Fox of the Pew Internet & American Life Project described as “self trackers” – those who track their health using the popular “skinny jeans test”).

There’s a lot happening in health tech in the US at the moment and next year at eHealth Week 2013 in Dublin, Ireland Inc. will have its opportunity to showcase what the Irish health tech community can bring to the table.

Picture above is the main hall in the Massachusetts State House at the EU-US eHealth Marketplace & 2012 Transatlantic Health IT/eHealth Cooperation Assembly.


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