In Ireland, the medtech sector employs more than 38,000 people.
There have been calls for increased investment in R&D and sensible regulations to ensure the continued growth of the Irish medtech sector.
According to the Irish Medtech Association, more than 300 medtech companies active in Ireland export €12.6bn worth of goods every year and employ 38,000 people between them.
‘The future is bright. Ireland has made an extremely positive contribution to medtech’
– GERRY O’SULLIVAN
But, according to the managing director of Cook Medical Europe, Bill Doherty, to ensure the industry stays ahead it needs to keep up with trends such as the development of minimally invasive devices, personalised healthcare, the connected health model and a more streamlined approach to clinical trials.
These could also could deliver savings for the Irish healthcare system, reduce patient recovery time and improve patients’ lives.
“While minimally invasive procedures are increasingly becoming the norm, more investment – from industry and Government – in research and development is necessary to expand the range of conditions that could be treated,” said Doherty.
“Minimally invasive procedures can reduce recovery time and may eliminate the need for open surgery and hospital-based procedures.
“One of the biggest risks to healthcare globally is the potential lack of innovation in the medtech sector.
“To ensure that we can continue to deliver life-changing and life-saving solutions for patients, we need sensible regulations, more investment in research and development, and a pipeline of skilled professionals. A great example of this is the recent announcement of the IDA-funded National Advanced Manufacturing Centre here in Limerick, and we are greatly encouraged by the recently launched report on Future Investment in Clinical Research.”
Doherty made the comments ahead of MedTech Week, a pan-European event between 3 and 7 June that highlights the positive contributions the medtech industry makes to patient wellbeing, health services and national economies.
Chronic illness challenge
Prof Gerry O’Sullivan, consultant radiologist at University College Hospital Galway, and a specialist in cardiovascular and interventional medtech devices, agrees.
“Ireland’s population is ageing, and chronic illness is more frequent. For older, sicker patients, open surgery carries a significant risk,” O’Sullivan said.
“Minimally invasive procedures, specifically those that use medtech devices, allow us to reduce the impact of these factors and increase the chance of successfully treating patients. In the long term this is good for the health service, as it reduces the time a patient needs to stay in hospital and seek aftercare.
“To ensure we can maintain this momentum, investment is crucial – both in terms of clinical and medical engineering skills, and in product development. Government and industry must collaborate to invest in better medtech-enabled facilities and infrastructure for healthcare practitioners, and in increasing the resources available for medtech innovation, such as grants.
“The future is bright. Ireland has made an extremely positive contribution to medtech. From a medical practitioner’s point of view, it’s very heartening to see life-saving and life-changing devices developed by local, Irish-based companies and universities positively impacting patient care across the world. It makes me proud to stand on the podium and tell other physicians that this product was conceived, tested, developed and manufactured in Ireland.”