The event in W5 Belfast was opened by Mark Lee, Director of Primary Care for the Department of Health and also marked the launch of Diamond Recruitment’s new division “Diamond Medical.”

Wearables and analytics alongside the ability to capture trends and improve patient outcome was explored by Dr. Shane McKee, Chief Clinical Officer for Belfast HSC Trust who stated data capture is enabling doctors to “ask the right questions.” He added: “Who is going to be pre-disposed to Type 2 diabetes before they get it in order to prevent the problem. By being able to identify who are the main targets are then we can target interventions specifically.”
Dr. Paul Beaney ECME Project Manager at Ulster University, further discussed data in the form of cardiology trends and explored the question: “has the 6 billion beats baby been born?”– to which he said it had. “By the convergence of technologies, including AI, sensors, digital health, wearable technology and tissue engineering, Dr. Paul stated this offers incredible advancements in predicting future trends of the human life.”

Data silos was a major theme of the day and how we can encourage a more linked-up approach through technology, 5G connectivity and telemedicine. The landscape of healthcare was discussed in terms of our visualisation for technology implementation, its adoption by government, health trusts and our city councils. The addition of 5G technology and IoT, both in pre-hospital emergency services and hospital design, can enhance patient outcomes explained Mark Roddy, Senior Researcher at Cork Institute of Technology and Mike Hicks, IoT Solutions & Services Director at Schneider Electric.

Meeting the needs of a changing population through the provision of a Cloud-based care package, in the form of icare digital, was explored by Mairead Mackle, CEO of Homecare Independent Living. Described as the next generation of health and social care, icare digital will massively reduce loneliness through creating virtual villages and generating a linked-up care package.

Dr. Cormac McGrath Clinical Scientist (MRI) in Belfast Trust discussed how app development in Healthcare is enhancing the entire health experience. His MRI app is helping prepare children for MRI scans. Rachel Gawley, CEO, App Attic, also provided a poignant demonstration on how VR and gamification is “turning patients into players,” assisting in the recovery of stoke victims, whist at the same time offering data capture and a more personalised stroke rehabilitation.

Continuing on applications, Fearghal McKinney, Director of PickaShift app added that the current pressures on care homes is growing and hence so too is demand for staff. Fearghal explained how ‘PickaShift’ is removing the burden on care homes to find staff by connecting available care workers and managing shifts.
Tony Bjourson, Director, NI Centre for Stratified Medicine, agreed that the harmonisation of ‘clean data,’ provided a major advancement in addressing the technological challenges experienced in Healthcare. Through the centre’s research, Tony added that “the majority of patients who come into doctor’s surgeries present with multiple problems (multimorbidity) and this needs to be revised with our aging population.”

With so much data obtained in Healthcare, explained Austin Tanney, Head of Life Sciences at Analytics Engine, the main challenge facing the Healthcare sector is integrating all this data – something which Analytics Engines specialises in he added. This, he added, is helping to eradicate data silos that are emerging within Healthcare.

The law surrounding data management within the Health sector was discussed in-depth by Napier & Glover’s Maria Glover.
The conference heard from Belfast City Council’s Smart Cities Manager Deborah Colville who stated that making the public sector ‘more agile’ was one of the main aims of Belfast City Council, hence meeting the needs of citizens. The audience heard how Belfast City Council has set aside a budget for ‘technological experimentation’, including a £230k pot which is currently inviting SME’s to contribute to suggestions to help reduce congestion in the city. Moreover, it was heard how Belfast City Council has just won £11.5m for the roll out of full fibre broadband in the City.

Adam Wallace, NI Coordinator, Digital Catapult, offered an insight as to what the Digital Catapult is doing in Northern Ireland. He added that it is the role of the Catapult centre to stimulate immersive content business, grow the digital ecosystem in N.Ireland and enable it to become global leaders in digital technology. In terms of digital health and care, Adam stated this was particularly prevalent in AI and immersive technologies.

Naomh McElhatton, CEO of SMART NI said: “Our SMART Health event was a major success which brought together Healthcare experts and technologists to discuss exactly how technology is presenting a major opportunity, as well as disrupting, our Healthcare sector. What’s clear following our conference is Northern Ireland still requires a cohesive approach and a combined effort right across the board to collectively adopt this revolutionary technology and make our system patient-centric.”

“It is with massive thanks to our event partners Diamond Medical and also our event sponsors Belfast City Council, Virgin Media Business, Schneider Electric, Homecare Independent Living, Amplfi.”

Paul Doherty (Managing Director, Diamond Medical): “Digital technology – whether it is artificial intelligence, virtual reality, or big data analysis – is revolutionising all parts of society, including healthcare and healthcare recruitment. That means the inaugural SMART Health conference was an important step for the healthcare sector to consider all the future possibilities and the ways technology is already changing healthcare provision today.

“We were delighted to launch Diamond Medical at such an important event, because we know in order to attract, train and retain the best qualified staff in healthcare, digital innovation will be key. Next generation online candidate attraction, smart scheduling, e-Learning and more all play a role in meeting skills shortages and increased demands for the healthcare sector.”

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