Research firm to advise health sector on IT spending


20 Apr 2006

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The Dublin-based firm iReach has launched a new service to advise the Irish healthcare sector about better understanding and using information technology.

Called Smartcare, the service will be based around the company’s research, said iReach managing director Oisin Byrne. “We would filter what’s going on in the vendor community and pass that on to the healthcare sector. We see a big gap between understanding what’s in the marketplace and smart business use [of technology] in the health sector,” he said. “It’s an area where we feel technology hasn’t been deployed to the maximum outside of some back-office functions.”

The health sector accounts for almost 25pc of all public sector IT spending, according to iReach, which has also forecast that Government IT spend is due to rise by 10pc this year, accounting for 23pc of all technology outlay in Ireland. However, Byrne said that there is a perception that there is not always a sufficient return from the money being spent in healthcare as a whole. Per capita spending is above the European average but the country still ranks poorly on quality and availability of care.

Byrne said that the Smartcare service would try to create a forum for debate on effective information management within the health and social care sectors and he emphasised that it is not a consulting practice. “It’s helping them on to the first rung of the ladder and maybe then they would go to an Accenture or an IBM,” he told siliconrepublic.com.

In addition to relying on research, iReach intends to use examples from other markets where applicable. Byrne said that comparisons with the American market were difficult because the funding infrastructure is different but said that other examples were available. “Germany is a great role model in terms of where they have invested their spend,” he said, citing examples such as telemonitoring and automated medicine delivery. “They’ve done a lot of smart things with not very expensive technology such as wireless or SMS. It doesn’t have to be a €100m project to obtain dividends in the health sector.” Another example is Israel where there are some data collection programmes using readily available technology, he added.

By Gordon Smith