Helping Organisations Use Healthcare Analytics To Make Smarter Decisions.

We are living the age of Big Data (healthcare analytics).

This means that organisations can now use data for significant market advantages. The importance of applying healthcare analytics is greater than ever with modern healthcare organisations recognising the need for relevant data.

Value Through Transformation

Healthcare Analytics is the collection, integration, analysis and presentation of health related data using a range of techniques and tools. They can enable healthcare providers, policy makers and supplier providers to make informed decisions about health and social care services and products to save money and lives. Healthcare Analytics can drive transformation in respect to the following:

Strategy Development

A successful organisation will put data at the core of its strategy and embed data analysis into its decision making. For data to serve its purpose, there must be a way to turn the information into actionable insights which will influence strategic direction.

Performance Improvement

Healthcare Analytics can help organisations adhere to Government policy by providing insights to create clinical and operational efficiencies, and improving overall performance.

Clinical Services

Analytic processes in clinical settings can improve diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for patients. And by analysing and monitoring health trends and patient data, providers can improve how services are configured to deliver better care for patients and a more favourable working environment for staff.

Quality And Safety

Deeper understanding of patient’s needs will lead to better clinical outcomes. Healthcare Analytics can also improve the quality of patient care by monitoring compliance with national quality and safety regulations and standards. The current development plans for hospital licensing in Ireland will increase the emphasis on data analysis as it will become part of the accreditation process.

Market Access

Successful medical device and pharmaceutical organisations view data analytics as a key driver for market access and research. Without data, significant investments in drug discovery and clinical trials would be wasted.

Safe In The Knowledge

The combination of limited resources, increasing demand, waiting lists, regulation and competition in the healthcare arena are certain to remain a key concern for organisations over the coming years. But data analytics can reduce the number of uncertainties and bring peace of mind to you and your stakeholders. With extensive experience in analysing, interpreting and providing actionable insights based on healthcare, commercial and population data, Prospectus can help healthcare providers and partners to make and improve decisions about key strategic issues affecting your organisation.

How To Work More Effectively Through Collaboration

As Charles Darwin said:

In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

Looking at the challenges ahead, such a quote seems quite apt for organisations in the community and voluntary sector today. Working for Prospectus, we come across many organisations with the noble intention of collaborating with other partners in order to improve their services, and it is a credit to the community and voluntary sector that collaboration is on the rise. What is noticeable though, is that there is limited knowledge about what collaboration is, what it entails, and how to go about it in an Irish context.

Definitions for ‘collaboration’ are many, but the one that captures the real essence of what we are about comes from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in the UK, who define collaborative working as:

A partnership between two or more voluntary organisations. Organisations can work together in a spectrum of ways, from informal networks, through joint delivery of projects to a full merger. Collaborative working can last for a fixed time or be permanent.

There is a whole spectrum of options to choose from when thinking about collaborating.

In our experience, some people in the community and voluntary sector get a sense of apprehension and anxiety when collaboration is mentioned, with the first thoughts being ‘Merger’, ‘Take-Over’ and ‘Redundancies’. Be assured that collaboration doesn’t necessarily mean merger, and that different arrangements entail differing levels of integration. They range from loose networks that might have the sole aim of simply engaging in knowledge sharing, to more formal alliances where organisations can share back office services or run a joint programme or event, to the most formal types of integration, those being mergers.

Prospectus Strategy Consultants recently worked with a number of The Wheel’s members in order to explore or progress their collaborative agendas. We worked with organisations in a host of areas, including;

  • Community drugs teams
  • Rural community transport providers
  • Childcare agencies
  • Family support services
  • Respite providers
  • Counselling services
  • Education and learning organisations
  • A National women’s organisation and
  • An organisation that provides services for people isolated in the community

The engagement, commitment and willingness to collaborate by all of the people involved was astounding. And it is exciting to know that there is appetite for collaboration at an organisational level within the sector.

The main drivers for organisations to consider entering into a partnership with another organisation are:

  • Ensure a better provision of services
  • Avoid duplication
  • To gain a stronger voice in the sector
  • Financial sustainability
  • To increase efficiency and effectiveness

Benefits of collaboration, we have been told by various community and voluntary leaders that:

  • Costs have been reduced
  • Service provision has increased
  • Organisational confidence has risen
  • There is a renewed focus and energy
  • Internal operations have been transformed

Having been through a collaborative initiative of any type, organisations are in the enviable position of being able to outline the pitfalls to be avoided, for those following in their footsteps.

So what are the top five pitfalls to be avoided?

1. It has been said that unrealistic timeframes are a major pitfall, and to ensure that realistic and achievable deadlines are agreed at the outset.

2. Ensure that roles and responsibilities are clear to all involved before entering a partnership of any type.

3. Taking on a wider brief than your organisation is capable of delivering on.

4. Having the wrong type or number of people in the project team. Aim to have a team of a manageable size, consisting of people that are enthusiastic and open to change.

5. Ensure that expectations of what is achievable are set and managed throughout the process and try to notch up the ‘quick wins’ early in the initiative in order to sustain momentum.

We have found from experience that there are certain ingredients, or critical success factors that are usually needed when a collaborative project succeeds. The main ones are listed below:

  • Honesty, trust and respect
  • Belief, commitment and perseverance
  • Board buy-in and involvement from the outset
  • A willingness to compromise from all parties involved
  • Communication, communication and more communication

If you are thinking of engaging in a collaborative initiative, take the above tips and pointers into account to ensure the best chance for success. And finally, don’t be afraid to take that initial step…

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.

Henry Ford

MedTech – A Great Opportunity For Ireland

Globally, the medical technology industry is estimated at €280bn – €300bn. Some forecasters have indicated that the sector will grow 10% over the next 5-6 years. This growth will be driven by an aging population in need of treatment for chronic diseases and the increase in the income level in developed and developing economies. MedTech accounts for 4.2% of total healthcare expenditure in Europe.

MedTech products are non-metabolic products, instruments, devices or diagnostic equipment which helps to prevent diseases and/or improve quality of life.

Ireland is already a recognised cluster in the global MedTech Industry and has the opportunity to become a more significant cluster or indeed a GoTo destination for the industry. Despite significant advances in recent years it has work to do to exploit this opportunity.

Europe is a significant player in the world MedTech Industry with over €95 billion sales in 2009 which is about 30% of global sales. It also invests about €7.5 billion annually in R&D (8% of sales). It employs over 500,000 people in 22,500 MedTech companies of which 80% are SMEs.

Germany is the third largest medical technology products producer and medical services provider in the world.

In terms of new patent registrations, German manufacturers currently lie second behind the USA, making Germany Europe’s strongest location for innovation in this industry. German medical technology producers achieve roughly a third of their turnover with products that are less than three years old.

The German medical technology industry is a high-tech sector with high levels of innovation and a strong export orientation that is characterised by small and medium sized companies. Its success has been built on its long tradition of precision engineering skills and research capability.

A unique characteristic of German medical technology is the “Mittelstand” (medium-sized) company oriented structure which makes it possible to react in a flexible way, cover a multitude of themes and provide niche products for specialist application.

Close cooperation between Germany’s R&D institutes and equipment manufacturers, not to mention a plethora of in-house R&D facilities, helps maintain an internationally unparalleled competitive edge which is reflected in its product development and patent output.

Germany has over 1,200 companies (each with more than 20 employees) active in the MedTech sector which invest around 9% of their turnover in R&D. Around 15% of all employees in this industry work in R&D.

The German medical technology sector is largely made up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Ninety-seven percent of all medical technology firms in Germany employ less than 500 employees and 15% of all employees work in businesses with less than 50 employees.

With an average of 78 employees per company, the medical technology industry is typically more small and medium-scaled than German industry by and large – with an average employee number of around 130.

Berne in Switzerland is another recognised MedTech cluster in Europe.

Its success is based on the long tradition of the watch and clock making in the canton of Berne which has advanced the know-how in precision manufacturing and is an important advantage for the medical technology sector.

It has 320 medical technology companies employing approximately 7,000 people of which 190 of which are manufacturers and suppliers. It has sales of €3.3bn of which 70% is exported.

The success of this cluster, although smaller than Ireland in terms of sales is also assisted by the support of the University of Berne with Masters and PhD in Biomedical Sciences and in Biomedical Engineering. Berne University of Applied Sciences encompasses both the Bachelor and Master degree levels as well as on the job further training and provides: Bachelor of Microtechnology, specialising in medical technology: Diploma of Advanced Studies Medical Technology Management and a Masters of Advanced Studies in Medical Technology Management.

The Irish Medtech Sector Is In Good Health

There are currently over 250 medical technology companies in Ireland, exporting €7.2bn worth of product annually and employing 25,000 people – the highest number of people working in the industry in any country in Europe, per head of population. 50% of the MedTech firms are indigenous which provides some shelter against potential relocations by the MNCs.

With 2.8%, Ireland has one of the lowest expenditures per capita on Medical Technology as a percentage of GDP, compared to a European average of 4.6% which presents a great opportunity for MedTech firms to sell more into the Irish Healthcare system.

According to IMSTA (Irish Medial & Surgical Trade Association), improved market access will be needed to realise this potential and could simplify the pathway by which new technologies pass from development into wider use. Benchmarking and developing ways to monitor uptake will also be important.

The Irish MedTech sector is in good health indicated by the fact that exports of medical devices and pharmaceutical products have grown by 7.26% and 14.43% over the period 2009 – 20101 (which date? 2010 or 2011) respectively according to the CSO. Exports of medical devices and diagnostics products now represent close to 10% of Ireland’s total exports and growth prospects for the industry globally are good.

Over the course of 2011, Irish-based medical technology companies announced investments of a combined €170m, leading to the creation of 875 jobs, which will come on stream in the coming years.

Many of the world’s top medical technology companies have invested significantly in Ireland and a number of exciting, research-based, indigenous companies are emerging and competing internationally.

The medical technology industry in Ireland is changing from being prominently manufacturing to being more complex and driven by R&D. It now involves intensive collaboration between a broad range of partners, including research institutions, clinicians, manufacturing and marketing/distribution companies and government agencies.

The MedTech industry is the home of technological disruptive innovations or “enablers”–much needed solutions for healthcare challenges.

Key Challenges In Making Ireland A Major Global Medtech Hub

While Ireland has many advantages to support the growth of the MedTech sector such as a favourable regulatory environment, a sector that operates to the highest international quality standards e.g. European, US and Japanese and a competitive corporation tax rate of 12.5%, it has some challenges to address in its ability to develop and grow further. These include:

Skills shortages – the Irish medical device industry recently carried out a survey of its member companies to identify current skills shortages. These skills shortages include

    • Engineering including design, process, control, mechanical, quality, automation, chemical processing and manufacturing.
    • Applied statisticians and toolmakers
    • Quality and regulatory professionals, including Analysts and Quality technicians
    • Sales and marketing is also vital to the sector and companies are currently facing shortages in this area

Greater research collaboration required – there is a relatively low overall level of engagement by clinicians in research. In addition the level of collaboration between the industry and the research community is low but improving. This stands as a challenge for the future of medical devices research in Ireland as significant medical device innovations frequently emerge informally from the application of engineering principles to clinician insights.

Commercialisation – Ireland’s record in this area falls far behind competing clusters due to a lack of experience in universities and hospitals. Clinical trialling and medical device evaluation are in early stage development in Ireland and national co-ordination could be facilitated by the creation of centres of excellence and/or competence for MedTech which would facilitate commercialisation and strengthen the bonds between academia, clinicians, government and industry.

Rising Costs – The MedTech sector owes much of its growth to overseas investment. However, this record of growth is now being challenged by rising costs, unfavourable exchange rates, and the improving manufacturing capabilities of competing low cost economies.

Education – while good progress has been made on this front the educational sector needs to do more to support in the provision of relevant undergraduate and post graduate programmes.

Ireland can become a significant player in the MedTech sector if it can address the challenges above.