Healthcare in Ireland has not had much positive coverage in the last few months or years, with an ‘improvement’ getting waiting times down to 15 months by October.

From better systems to telemedicine, and even to using Artificial Intelligence in the future – our healthcare systems will be a very different place in the years to come.

At the Dublin Future Health Summit, we got to hear how healthcare is transforming across the world. And how it’s already happening in Ireland.

Zero Waiting Lists in Macedonia

In 2013, waiting lists in Macedonian hospitals were up to 6 months.

Within six months they eliminated waiting lists after deploying a new eHealth system to manage resources across the country.

The system went on to pay for itself within another six months.

The team behind the Macedonian transformation then went on to do it in Serbia within six months.

So how did they do it?

The Macedonian system allows for a big-picture view of the entire healthcare. It allows administrators to book appointments with any doctor across the system. No consultant downtime. Gaps in doctor’s schedules can be filled. Gaps from say late cancellations or no shows.

With a full health picture across the country, medicine supplies can be managed better across pharmacies. A big picture makes clear what departments aren’t performing, so work can be done to bring them in line.

None of these are advanced technologies. But they do need all healthcare systems to talk with each other. When done, there are massive efficiency gains.

Efficiency gains lead to reduced waiting lists and better service.

And it’s not just about the better service. What the speakers highlighted from Macedonian experience is that purely from a cost perspective, waiting lists end far more expensive. Diseases caught earlier are orders of magnitude cheaper to solve.

Speakers highlighted that Ireland could easily integrate the Macedonian system with our current systems.

St. Vincent’s Hospital Success Story

Hard to believe but in the 21st century, many hospital records are still paper-based.

Dermot Cullinan & Anthony Moran from St. Vincent’s talked about a recent upgrade to their systems to better track patients and use data collected to improve operations.

Irish Tech News got to talk with the team behind the software – IMS Maxims – and how it is part of the overall solution – which includes fully digital records, resource management and smart notifications.

For emergency cases, the system can notify quickly and to the relevant people. It can even connect with the patients GP.

It can also predict trends, helping out on resourcing.

And most importantly, their system can integrate with any other system and is fully future-proofed. No massively expensive upgrades in 10-15 years time.

IMS Maxims are rolling out their solution to other hospitals in Ireland right now. St. Michaels is next.


Another area of the transformation of health care going on right now is telemedicine. Telemedicine has the potential for massive cost savings. And it’s using existing technologies we already take for granted – Skype for instance.

Dr Andrew R. Watson talked about how he’s using telemedicine and ePrescriptions to treat over a third of his patients.

Telemedicine is not just good for the patient, no more travel and waiting times. It’s good for the doctor – saving paperwork so they can concentrate on the most important job, treating the patient.

Dr Watson talked about how much of his day-to-day work is now fully automated. He uses speech-recognition for patient notes. Notes are then automatically routed to the patient’s GP.

“For chronic disease management, we need eHealth.” – Andrew R. Watson


What’s becoming very clear is that business as usual just won’t work. The healthcare system in Ireland already has one of the worst ratings in Europe.

More people needing long-term management of chronic diseases is putting further strain on the system.

Speakers from around the world at the Future Health Summit show that we don’t need to wait for advanced Artificial Intelligence or Personalised medicine to fix the problems.

Countries like Macedonia and Serbia have done it already.

And it’s not a matter of increasing budgets. New digital health systems pay for themselves within months.

After years of bad news from the Irish healthcare system, could headlines of 18-month long waiting lists be a thing of the past in Ireland?


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