There are major challenges and opportunities

‘Opportunities are in re-imagining healthcare’ says Dave Shanahan, President Partnerships HealthBeacon.

6th January, 2020
There are major challenges and opportunities

What's your name?

Dave Shanahan

What position do you hold?

Most people know me as President Partnerships HealthBeacon, one of Ireland’s most innovative medical technology companies. I also support other companies as non-exec director and am a board member of Enterprise Ireland and chair the Health Innovation Hub Ireland. (HIH). HIH is a very important national asset in a critical area of industrial policy.

What are your day to day responsibilities?

I seek health solutions from industry and healthcare where outcomes and quality are improved, and costs offer better long-term value. I’m always seeking to advance Irish developed innovation into healthcare practice so Irish entrepreneurs, healthcare workers and academics, can lead in aspects of global health improvement.

What is your professional background?

A science and business graduate. I’ve spent over 25 years working at senior executive level in multinationals in Ireland, the UK and USA. I learned a lot as MD of Pfizer Healthcare, CEO of Charter Medical Group and Global Head of IDA Life Sciences. I’ve supported 10 start-ups over the past decade with only two failures…not too bad! I continuously learn by always working with people smarter than me.

You are participating at the 2020 National Health Summit. What are you speaking about?

I’m chairing a session on innovation, so looking forward to hearing from presenters and inviting contributions which identify real examples of execution which have translated knowledge into practice.

Ireland without ambition, clarity and flexibility in its national health structures, without trialling and adopting innovation and changing practice risks being swamped by the rise of chronic illness and ageing. Incentivising health, wellness, prevention and procuring novel solutions across care, care delivery and system and policy integration are critical to our long term physical and economic health as a nation. Harnessing our national industry and healthcare system, to that agenda, is a critical success factor for our future prosperity.

What main challenges do you see for the healthcare sector in Ireland?

There are major challenges and opportunities. The challenges are regulatory (new medical device regulations), lack of access and affordability for innovative medicines, ageing demographics, rising chronic disease, a medical manpower crisis, unsuitable legacy structures everywhere and the tyranny in trying to improve on previous success.

The opportunities are in re-imagining healthcare as “Well Care” not “Sick Care” and transforming practice and outcomes by embracing technology, change and new ways of working and thinking. Emergent technologies impacting healthcare include genomics, gene therapies, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, nutrition, blockchain and data. We have conquered most common infections, are confining HIV and some cancers into long-term illness and enhancing longevity and ageing: Being 70 is the new 50! We got here by funding innovation and we can’t stop now.

Where would you like to see the health service in 10 years’ time?

My checklist would be:

•Intolerance of mediocrity, partnering with patients, empowering clinical leadership

•Digitally enabled, committed to innovation.

•Enlightened procurement models supporting Irish jobs

•Healthcare metrics driving national health improvement

•Intensely collaborative, quality based, blind to silo’s or boundaries

•Rigorously implementing and scaling innovation everywhere in everything

•Prevention-biased, state, employer and insurer incentives for personal health management and improvement

•Independent governance, rooted in practicality, with lean, efficient and temporary bureaucracy

•Agile, fit for purpose, diverse workforce, flexible employment contracts

•Outward looking in perspective, enthusiastic in mission, driven towards continuous improvement

•Staff ratio’s prioritised to care, back-office/administration rationalised, high performance rewarded, recognised and celebrated.

Dave will be speaking at The 16th National Health Summit 2020 on February 6, Croke Park, Dublin.

For more details visit

Share this post

Related Stories

Workspace As Unique As You Are

Improving the odds

Driving home the data risk

Taking a wide-angle view of risk