The healthcare sector has coped incredibly well with the pandemic

‘There is so much innovation happening in the healthcare industry right now’ says Eileen Byrne, Managing Director of Clanwilliam Health

19th August, 2021
The healthcare sector has coped incredibly well with the pandemic

What's your name and what position do you hold?

Eileen Byrne, Managing Director of Clanwilliam Health.

What are your day to day responsibilities?

My role is to lead the brilliant Clanwilliam Health team in the conception, distribution and marketing of our many innovative primary and secondary care software solutions, while ensuring that the company continues to grow at a steady rate, both organically and through acquisitions. Central to my role is prioritising people – both the team I work with but also the people we can impact through the digital healthcare solutions we introduce to the market. With this in mind I am constantly challenging our team to surpass both our own and industry expectations in every area of the business.

What is your professional background?

I joined the company as a receptionist back in 1995, when it was still called Systems Solutions. In the years since, I have enjoyed taking on a range of different roles within the organisation. It’s been exciting to see the company transform and grow so much during that time. I was appointed to my current role as MD of Clanwilliam Health in 2017, which was a great career moment for me.

How do you think the healthcare sector is coping with the Covid-19 crisis?

Overall, I think the healthcare sector has coped incredibly well with the pandemic. Of course, there have been mistakes and missteps along the way but if you look at it from a macro-level this incredible crisis has been handled exceptionally well. I have seen first-hand a determined willingness from the frontline healthcare workers and the wider industry to tackle the pandemic. In the future, when we look back on this time, I think we will be able to have a sense of pride about what we achieved along with the valuable lessons we learned that we can use to improve the healthcare industry over the coming years.

What lasting impact do you see on healthcare delivery?

The pace of digital transformation has increased. Pre-pandemic changes to healthcare delivery were often slow to gain traction. Since March 2020, we have worked on numerous projects designed to improve healthcare delivery in Ireland such as remote video consultations, remote payments, electronic prescriptions, vaccination records and management. By working closely with our customers and key industry stakeholders we have delivered in 18 months what may have taken twice that time to bring online pre-pandemic for various reasons. I hope that this speed of change and improvement of healthcare delivery is a lasting and positive result of the pandemic.

How do you see tech innovation transforming healthcare? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?

The possibilities are endless. There is so much innovation happening in the healthcare industry right now and it’s all being driven by technology. For example, we are currently developing a new patient portal app, Hippo Health, for Irish patients which will initially enable us all to book and pay for a GP appointment online. The scope and the potential of what can be included in this app is literally endless and we’re excited to see how our software systems can help to transform the patient experience in engaging with healthcare providers and, ultimately, in accessing their digital health record whenever they want.

Looking outside of what we’re working on in Clanwilliam Health, I’m always excited to see the latest developments in the Irish medtech industry and how they can improve patient outcomes using the latest technological advances.

What do you think are the key challenges are in the digital transformation of the health service?

Cybersecurity is a key challenge for every sector now as the move to remote and hybrid working models looks to be here to stay. There is also an increased public demand for digital services across all industries and we need to make sure that everything is safe and secure for all users.

This has been more evident in recent months within the healthcare setting and was highlighted by the impact of the cyber-attack on the HSE’s digital infrastructure. Protecting patient data and records from data breaches and malicious actors is vitally important. At Clanwilliam Health we are tackling this risk by building more robust systems aimed at preventing data theft and malfunction. Cyber criminals are continually changing tactics, and I believe organisations can’t afford to become complacent when dealing with this ever-shifting threat.

Additionally, I believe that the impending waiting list crisis, the age profile of our GPs and delivering Sláintecare are key challenges that we must all work together to solve in a similar way to how we have worked together to fight Covid-19 so far.

What will be the leading trends in healthcare in the coming years and how will patients and providers need to adapt?

I think we’re at an exciting point in healthcare and one of the biggest trends I see continuing over the coming years is patients seeking increased control and access to their own health data. We’ve already seen this happening with smart watches and other devices designed to monitor your overall health in terms of activities, heart rate, stress and sleep. The next challenge is to enable an efficient and effective digital link between patients and GPs. At Clanwilliam Health we are working to make this happen via our new patient portal app (Hippo) which will enable patients to book and pay for their GP appointments online, have a video consultation with your GP and request your repeat prescription from your phone. On the GP side the app is completely integrated with their current practice management software system to provide them with another useful tool to interact with their patients.

Patients will adapt quickly because technology is so prominent in all other areas of their lives. For providers, I think that as long as technology adds value by saving time and frees them up to do what they do best – provide care to those who need it – then the adaptation process will be speedy and straightforward.

Eileen Byrne is speaking at the 2021 Smart Health Summit on Sept 14th - for full details and to book visit www.smarthealthsummit.ie

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