The Irish Government is projected to invest €260m in technology within the health sector in 2007 – roughly 2pc of the overall budget assigned for health this year and ahead of the EU norm – according to research from iReach.
This is on average a higher ratio of expenditure when you count in other European nations like France, Germany and the UK.
The UK will invest €2.64bn on healthcare IT while Germany and France will invest €1.6bn and €1.3bn respectively. This is less than 1pc of their overall health budgets.
Sweden, however, with a population over double the size of Ireland, will invest €612m on health IT in Ireland, which is roughly 2.5pc of their health budget.
According to iReach, Ireland has one of the best per capita spends on health ICT within the EU, spending approximately €62 person on ICT.
Our nearest neighbour the UK spends €43 per capita on ICT in healthcare. Germany spends €19 per person while France spends €21 per person.
The Swedes invest €68 per capita on health IT systems while in the US spend per capita is €60 with €18bn invested in healthcare IT in 2007.
IReach analyst Neil Brennan said that different countries have different priorities in terms of spend on IT.
“Sweden and the US have invested heavily in controlling efficiencies and cost controlling measures within their systems for years while increased UK health IT spend is relatively recent.”
Brennan said that while Irish spend per capita is quite high, the organisational efficiencies and fully integrated patient management systems are still in their infancy in terms of more advanced European models such as the Swedes.
“What is needed are integrated patient management systems that link all elements of a system, be they clinical and non-clinical such as admin, human resources and financial together.”
He pointed to the implementation of the EU Working Time directive that has resulted in hospitals having to invest in technologies that track doctor working time and leave comprehensive audit trails.
Brennan concluded: “Systems that allow for increased digital reporting can therefore benefit and such a stable and progressive ICT environment benefits an organisation in terms of time efficiency, which leads to increased patient care by eliminating mountains of unnecessary clerical work freeing up physicians to concentrate on the person who ultimately pays for the system – the patient.”
By John Kennedy