What is being billed as the world’s first online network for health professional bodies, health professionals and the general public has been launched by Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD.
Taking five years and costing €2m to develop, Healthhub.ie is being promoted as a means for health professional bodies to interact with their members and each other. The site has been developed in conjunction with the Irish College of General Practitioners and some 20 organisations including the Royal College of Physicians, the Society of Chartered Physiotherapists and the Irish Medicines Board have joined Healthhub.ie.
Healthhub.ie allows health organisations to interact in the direct interest of the patient. For example, if a batch of faulty medicines reaches the market it is possible for health professionals to be alerted within a short timeframe eg by text message, to facilitate timely withdrawal of the medicine from the marketplace.
It is also claimed that the the technology available through Healthhub.ie will reduce significantly time spent by member organisations at meetings. Meeting documentation can be circulated in advance via Healthhub.ie, online debate can ensue in a secure environment, and points of agreement can be isolated, leaving only items needing a decision for consideration at the meeting. According the firm, this technology is already in use and has demonstrated a reduction of up to two-thirds the time allocated to the conduct of meetings in participating health organisations.
“Healthub.ie is all about communication,” noted Healthhub.ie managing director Billy Brennan. “It’s about communication within and between professional bodies.” Adding that 50pc of health sector governing bodies had either joined the site or were about to, he said the next phase of the site’s expansion would be about increasing the breadth of organisations covered and the depth of services provided. While members of the public can today log on to Healthhub.ie to find their nearest doctor and obtain information on medical issues, in future they will also be able to book appointments with their local GP and their GP will be able to book slots with a consultant should a referral be necessary – all through the website.
“You could call this the Harley Street of Cyberspace,” said Healthhub chairman Michael Norris. “Health professionals and the general public can use Healthhub.ie as a single point of access to a broad range of professional bodies and health professionals’ organisations, just as you would find a specialist in Harley Street.”
HealthHub is run by a web development firm called Odyssey. Norris is the majority shareholder in the firm. Odyssey owns 80pc of Healthhub while the Irish College of General Practitioners owns the remaining 20pc.
Pictured at the launch of healthhub.ie were Michael Norris, chairman; Billy Brennan, managing director; Ann McGee, strategic consultant and Fionan O’Cuinneagain, chief executive, the Irish College of General Practitioners.