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Unique ID to revolutionise healthcare


									Best Business
HEALTHCARE: putting technology to work
                                                     TELEHEALTHCARE                                                                                                   ICT                                                                                  LOCAL
                                                     New system
                                                     for remote care
                                                                                                                                                                      SKILLS                                                                               MODEL
                                                                                                                                                                      Scarce where it                                                                      Mallow is
                                                     32                                                                                                               counts 30                                                                            healthcare
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           capital of Cork 34
  6-PAGE SPECIAL REPORT                                                                                                  EDITED BY LESLIE FAUGHNAN                                                                                                         SEPTEMBER 27 2009

Unique ID to
The introduction of a unique health number for
every Irish citizens could ensure a significant
improvement in the delivery of effective
healthcare in this country, writes Ian Campbell

                   arly next year,                                           personal data relating to ex-
                   the publica-                                              tending the role of the PPSN,
                   tion of the                                               and concluded that issues ‘‘re-
                   Health Infor-                                             lated to individual privacy con-         The introduction of the unique health identifier number is key to joined-up healthcare systems in Ireland
                   m at ion B i l l                                          c e r n s , d a t a i n t e g r i t y,
                   will introduce                                            minimisation of limitations,
legislative changes that will                                                maximum benefits realisation             cords duplication and repeat   ‘adverse events’ as a principal       While the sums are difficult   duced a similar number identi-    James’s Hospital in Dublin.
pave the way for the introduc-                                               and best international practice          laboratory testing.            reason for its adoption, but re-   to prove, the white paper drew    fier system in the National       Within a year, the cost savings
tion of a unique health identi-                                              indicate’’ made setting up a                Hiqa identi fied patient    cognised that number-crunch-       parallels from the work of GS1,   Centre for Haemophilia and        surpassed the cost of imple-
fier (UHI), a single number                                                  new UHI number the pre-                  safety though a reduction in   ing needed to be done.             a standards body that intro-      Coagulation Disorders at St       mentation.
allocated to every citizen in                                                ferred choice.
the country that could signifi-                                                  The idea of a UHI is not new
cantly improve Ireland’s na-                                                 and discussions have gone back
tional healthcare system.                                                    and forward for many years in
   ‘‘The establishment of a un-                                              Ireland on the best numbering
ique health identifier will                                                  system to use and the legisla-
greatly facilitate the more ef-       Prof Jane Grimson of Hiqa              tive changes to support its in-
fective use of e-technology in                                               troduction. Many countries
health, both for patient care            Supporters of the single            are on a similar journey, in-
and safety, and also be an im-        number say a standardised sys-         clu d i ng t h e US; whe re a s
portant element in moving to-         tem will reduce risks to the safe      others, like the Scandinavian
wards a more i nt eg rat e d          delivery of services and save          countries, have used UHIs for
healthcare system,’’ said a           money though more efficient            many years. Britain is in the
spokesperson for the Depart-          administration.                        process of implementation
ment of Health and Children.             ‘‘If a patient requires treat-      and is also rolling out an elec-
   Gerard Hurl, ICT director          ment at any healthcare envir-          tronic health record (EHR)
of the Health Service Execu-          onment in Ireland, the doctors         system.
tive (HSE), also welcomed the         or nurses must have access to              The timing for Ireland could
move. ‘‘The department un-            the most accurate informa-             be its biggest challenge, ac-
derstands that,to use electronic      tion,’’ Hurl said.                     cording to Kieran Hickey,
systems and move healthcare              Professor Jane Grimson, di-         chair of ProRec, the Irish arm
forward, we need a UHI,’’ he          rector of health information in        of a body to set up to encou-
said.                                 the Health Information and             rage health services to adopt
   ‘‘We need it so that we can        Quality Authority (Hiqa), went         standards that will enable elec-
give the care provider ^ and ul-      further: ‘‘In order to provide         tronic health records. He said
timately the patient ^ access to      high quality, reliable health          that Ireland had always been
electronic health records, at         care and to ensure maximum             below average in its funding of
any place and any time.’’             patient safety, it is essential that   IT health initiatives, and feared
   As well as ensuring that a         patients can be identified un-         the recession could impact on
patient is always identified cor-     iquely and clearly, and this is        UHI delivery.
rectly, the number will link all      not currently the case.’’                  Further cuts to the health
the patient information to-              A survey carried out by the         budget are also on the way,
gether, creating an electronic        Hiqa found that 94 per cent of         which means a strong business
health record (EHR) that con-         people wanted their medical            case will have to be made if it is
tains a complete patient his-         information to be accessible by        going to get through.
t o r y, t h e Ho l y G r a i l o f   emergency medical staff, with              Hurl believes it can be done.
healthcare.                           a further 86 per cent stating          ‘‘I don’t believe it would cost an
   This will even benefit the         their desire for health informa-       extraordi n ar y a mou nt of
emergency services, according         tion to be joined up across the        money, and I believe the return
to Hurl.                              system.                                on investment would be there,’’
   ‘‘Now that we can access              The bill is expected to follow      he said.
data with mobile technology,          recommendations made in a                  The Hiqa white paper said
it’s critical that ambulance          Hiqa white paper published in          that a UHI would ‘‘pay for it-
teams are able to get hold of a       March, which called for a UHI          self within the first years of im-
patient’s history,’’ he said.         to be introduced as soon as            plementation and continue to
   In Ireland, there is currently     possible. It is likely to be a ‘pur-   accrue savings in the years that
no reliable method of tracking        pose-built’ UHI rather than an         follow’’ through increased effi-
a patient through the system.         extension of the role of the ex-       ciencies and a reduction in ad-
The UHI would replace prac-           isting personal public service         ministration costs.
tices that rely on the matching       number (PPSN), which citi-                 Applying what Hiqa calls
of name, address and date of          zens currently use for access to       the principle of ‘collect once,
birth, which is more prone to         social welfare benefits and            use many times’, the UHI
administrative errors and often       other state services.                  would give joined-up informa-
leads to repetitious form-fill-          The Hiqa report expressed           tion to carers for the first time ^
ing.                                  concerns about privacy and             which would help avoid re-

     Joined-up healthcare
   When the Health Service Executive (HSE)                Health Data Centre. And, despite the
   was formed in 2005, part of its remit was              storm around PPARS, it has quietly
   to unravel the labyrinth of different                  pursued other national roll-outs.
   systems and silos of fragmented                           The deployment of a patient
   information that existed within the old                administration system (PAS), developed
   health boards.                                         by iSoft, is an ongoing project that a
      Billed as the most radical restructuring            recently published report deemed to be
   for 30 years, the HSE made plans for                   largely successful.
   setting up a national infrastructure and                  Designed to provide a foundation for a
   enterprise-wide systems, but received a                national hospital information system,
   sudden jolt when one project, the                      covering all 52 acute hospitals in the state,
   Personnel, Payroll and Related Systems                 the project recently reached the halfway
   (PPARS), which was already under way,                  mark.
   hit a brick wall.                                         PAS is important because it is a
      The PPARS project, which was                        stepping stone that may influence future
   portrayed in the media as an IT disaster               decisions on the shape of the planned
   story, was a e150 million project that                 hospital information system, particularly
   failed to deliver, raising questions about             around the deployment of a national
   the wisdom of pursing a more centralised               electronic health record (EHR).
   IT infrastructure.                                        The second half of its deployment will
      Since then, the HSE has largely stuck to            be under a significant amount of scrutiny,
   its plans for enterprise-style IT and                  and its success or failure may play a part
   joined-up services, building a National                in determining how quickly UHI and EHR
   Health Network and creating a National                 models are realised.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST
n30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   SEPTEMBER 27 2009


Healthcare ICT needs special skills
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              no healthcare administration had
Leslie Faughnan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               fully cracked the problem, it was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              not intractable. Progress has been
talks to the new                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              made here and across Europe and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the USA in developing and agreeing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              standards for systems as well as a
director of ICT in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            range of model solutions capable of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              being adapted for different national
the HSE about                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 healthcare regimes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 In Ireland, Hurl pointed to pro-
the challenges to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             grammes like NIMIS (the national
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              integrated medical imaging sys-
healthcare and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                tem); Healthlink, which facilitates
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the transfer of information between
the systems and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               primary and secondary care, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the progress being made on EHR
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and a unique health identifier
skills that are                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               (UHI) as the basis for patient-cen-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tric administration in all healthcare.
urgently needed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There were lots of identified prio-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              rities, Hurl said, and in fact the HSE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ^ with the Health Information and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Quality Authority (Hiqa), the De-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              partment of Health and Children

           t is a job that is regarded by                                                                                                                                                                                                                     and other agencies ^ is actually
           m a ny a s p e r h a p s t h e                                                                                                                                                                                                                     tackling most of them.
           toughest in information                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The concern he was determined
           communication technol-                                                                                                                                                                                                                             to get across to everyone from the
           ogy (ICT) in any organisa-                                                                                                                                                                                                                         government down is that the ICT
           tion in Ireland, but Gerard                                                                                                                                                                                                                        skills and people resources are not
Hurl, the new Health Service Ex-                                                                                                                                                                                                                              there to attain the objectives ^ and
ecutive director of ICT, is facing                                                                                                                                                                                                                            certainly not in the kind of time
the challenge with optimism tem-                                                                                                                                                                                                                              scale that the economic situation
pered with realistic acknowledg-                                                                                                                                                                                                                              really dictates.
ment of a troubled legacy and very                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Within the HSE, Hurl has identi-
limited resources in the short and                                                                                                                                                                                                                            fied as one element of a solution the
probably medium term.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         re-training and upskilling of both
   A 30-year veteran of healthcare                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ICTstaff and others who could gain
informatics, he was appointed ear-                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sufficient ICT knowledge in a short
lier this year from his previous role                                                                                                                                                                                                                         timeframe.
as IT manager in Dublin’s Mater                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘‘Across the entire healthcare do-
Hospital. Hurl was tipped by many                                                                                                                                                                                                                             main, not just the HSE, there is a
in the ITcommunity for the job be-                                                                                                                                                                                                                            serious shortfall in skills,’’ he said.
cause of his national and interna-                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ‘‘Healthcare is very specific and
tional reputation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            has many unique specialist areas,
   He has been for some years one of                                                                                                                                                                                                                          so it is also fair to say that it is the
perhaps six healthcare informatics          Gerard Hurl: ‘investment in technology represents the only realistic way we can continue to contain our healthcare costs’                                                                      MAURA HICKEY       domain knowledge that is especially
experts of European stature in the                                                                                                                                                                                                                            lacking.
country, and a driving force in the                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ‘‘We can envisage people who
Healthcare Informatics Society of               The ratio of all ICT personnel to     said, especially when allied to clear   ment across several hospital disci-       sisted, and there were many other          myth that it’s all easy really, just       know a healthcare area very well
Ireland (HISI), the professional            that regular user base (and there are     decision-making about priorities.       plines, as well as the savings and        things to be accomplished before           buy clever systems ^ our systems           having ICT skills added, but per-
body of which he is chairman.               thousands of occasional users) is         He uses the example of an exercise      return on the technology invest-          the value of such an identifier sys-       the vendors will say ^ and get on          haps only a small number of ICT
   The ICT estate he has taken over         about one for 130 or less, as opposed     in Tallaght Hospital in 2002, which     ment.There was also a platform cre-       tem could be delivered.                    with it.’’                                 workers would be suitable for roles
is very ^ some would say extremely          to the 1:40 to 1:60 level considered      saved an estimated e735,000 or          ated for ease of expansion in volume          ‘‘Realistically, in the current cli-      In truth the challenge is that in all   in healthcare, and the time scale
^ limited despite the popular myths         normal in large commercial organi-        more annually.                          or types of report in the future.         mate and with costs on hold, the           developed countries healthcare sys-        might be impractical.’’
about PPARS. The annual budget              sations worldwide. In fact, the HSE          All laboratory reports used to be       T h e ‘ Tra n s for m at io n P ro -   message we have to deliver is that         tems have grown up over time and              Yet Hurl said he was hopeful and
for all aspects of ICT is less than         has 80 support people for about           printed and circulated automati-        gramme’ since 2007 has one major          ICT can deliver significant return         no country, including the USA, has         said the recent formation of the Ir-
0.75 per cent of the HSE total of           50,000 regular users of software ap-      cally, generating many thousands        implication for ICT strategy, Hurl        on investment. I might add that in-        anything like the joined up services       ish Council for Health Informatics
e14.5 billion at e90 million, essen-        plications.                               of paper documents to be physically     explained, which was that the para-       vestment in technology represents          that would be fundamental in any           Professions by HISI and the Irish
tially for maintenance with some                ‘‘We are starting from the basis      transported around the hospital and     digm of care was moving to put the        the only realistic way we can con-         vision of healthcare today.                Computer Society was an impor-
limited capital investment.                 that the value of ICT in delivering       later stored.                           patient at the centre of all services     tinue to contain our healthcare               ‘‘Electronic health systems re-         tant initiative in leading the devel-
   It is generally accepted as a un-        better and more efficient healthcare         By moving to an electronic sys-      and activity, logically as well as in     costs.’’                                   quire a multi-layered infrastructure       opment of the inter-disciplinary
iquely low figure by international          is incontrovertible,’’ Hurl said. ‘‘The   tem the savings extended beyond         care terms.                                   Hurl said that, by and large, gov-     to enable flexibility and interoper-       skills so urgently needed.
standards.                                  evidence is there internationally,        the print costs, handling and filing       ‘‘The services and systems will        ernments internationally do not get        ability for information and the sys-          ‘‘Being really optimistic, we
   The ICTdirectorate has a staff of        from the USA and Europe and in            to clinical and clerical staff time.    integrate around the patient, rather      it, despite all of the studies and evi-    tems and technology components,’’          could see it as both the route to
310 nationally to serve an organisa-        Britain. ICT has to be at the heart       The electronic lab report system is     than the institution or profession or     dence of what technology can con-          Hurl said, and pointed to the speci-       meeting our own challenges and an
tion with more than 130,000 em-             of healthcare, both for the best pa-      also quicker, more reliable and ac-     disease. Clearly, a national health       tribute to healthcare, especially in       fic case of the USA, where just 0.3        opportunity to build a skills and
ployees and upwards of 40,000 PCs           tient outcomes and for efficiency in      curate.                                 identifier will greatly assist in actu-   efficiency and cost saving or at least     per cent of hospitals have fully im-       knowledge base in next generation
as well as its extensive infrastruc-        delivery and in making optimum               This example is deceptively sim-     ally carrying that through, connect-      achieving more with less.                  plemented the US Electronic Medi-          healthcare ICT that would build an
ture and systems. By almost all cri-        use of the clinical, technical and ad-    ple, Hurl pointed out, because be-      ing all of the processes across all           ‘‘In many respects the industry        cal Record (EMR), which we call            international reputation and have a
teria, it is the largest user of ICT in     ministrative resources.’’                 hind it are benefits for patient        healthcare services.’’                    generally is no great help either. It      EHR (electronic health record).            significant ‘knowledge economy’
the country.                                    Technology can save money, he         treatment and process improve-             But it is no magic bullet, he in-      has contributed to the popular                While this pointed to the fact that     value,’’ he said.

     Commercial profile: CIM Ireland                                                                          Getting the message to patients
   Simulation modelling                                                                                       By Leslie Faughnan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Celebrating 5 successful years of dedicated

   in hospitals                                                                                               Like every hospital in the state,
                                                                                                              St Vincent’s University Hospi-
                                                                                                              tal in Dublin has had a pro-
                                                                                                              blem for years with managing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     support and management services to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Primary Health Care.

                                                                                                              outpatient appointments for                                                                                       . Ireland’s leading provider of GP Practice

                    o d e r n s oft-                                                                          its wide range of clinics. In es-
                    ware has be-                                                                              sence, the rate of ‘no-shows’ or,                                                                                   Management Services.
                    come so                                                                                   as the hospital more politely re-                                                                                 . National leader in the development of
                    sophisticated                                                                             cords it, Did Not Attends
   that simulation modelling is                                                                               (DNAs) could be up to 40 per                                                                                        Primary Care Centres with
   now successfully used in a                                                                                 cent.
   variety of settings across the                                                                                The implications for the hos-                                                                                    10 signed letters of agreement with the
   world to model accurately                                                                                  pital are very serious in terms
                                                                                                              of wasted time by clinicians
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HSE and 7 more under negotiation.
   the flow of products or peo-
   ple.                                                                                                       and other staff, and the related                                                                                    Our project pipeline currently stands in
      CIM Ireland, which has                                                                                  costs. A general HSE cost fig-
   been a leader in simulation                                                                                ure for each hospital DNA is         Dermot Cullinan and Martina Corcoran of the St                                 excess of e100 million.
   modelling since 1994, has                                                                                  about e80 per patient. Argu-         Vincent’s IT team                   MAURA HICKEY
                                                                                                              ably, the closing out of appoint-                                                                                 . NSAI certified to ISO 9001:2000
   worked hard with pharma-
   ceutical, manufacturing and                                                                                ment times for other patients        which is extremely wasteful of       had their permission and their          . Worked with over 300 GPs in more than
   service industries to provide                                                                              might be an even more serious        our limited resources.’’             interest.’’
   accurate and informative si-                                                                               consequence.                            Si nc e St Vi nc e nt’s s e es       But he said that the Defero            40 Medical Centres across Ireland.
   mulations that are crucial to                                                                                 A major step forward in sol-      around 143,000 outpatients an-       system was the new star of the
                                                                                                              ving, or at least alleviating, the   nually in its various clinics, the   show, linked to the patient sys-        . Negotiated and established GP Practice
   product or service develop-         CIM Ireland. ‘‘People run-          work any harder.’’
   ment.                               ning the healthcare system             CIM Ireland’s simulations       problem is the Defero text mes-      average DNA rate of 23 per           tem so that the reminders were            Partnerships leading to successful group
      Now, CIM Ireland is look-        have differing views on how         can model everything from          saging system which has re-          cent represents almost 30,000        automatic, accurate and accu-
   ing to move into a new area         to make improvements. Si-           A&E departments and thea-          c e ntly f i nishe d a ver y         missed appointments, and sug-        rately targeted.                          Practices.
   of modelling, one which             mulation is objective and           tre bed management to the          successful three-month trial in      gests a cost through waste of           ‘‘We have already decided to
   could be of benefit to the mil-     can evaluate and compare            impact of bed availability         StVincent’s. Developed by Du-        the order of e2 million-plus.        roll it out as the key part of a        . Alpha has a dedicated team of highly
   lions of people in Ireland          the impact of the proposals         and blockers on the overall        blin firm Grapevine Solutions,          ‘‘We piloted the text messa-      c o- op erative prog ra m m e             qualified staff who work exclusively in
   who use healthcare services         before investment.                  system.This makes it an ideal      the Defero software links to the     ging system in two of our busi-      across all outpatient clinics
   each year. CIM Ireland will            According to Timon, the          tool for those whose primary       hospital’s patient administra-       est clinics, ENT and urology,’’      with an ambitious but, we be-             the area of Primary Healthcare
   apply its leading-edge tech-        goal of simulation modelling        responsibility lies in mana-       tion system. Appointment re-         Corcoran said. ‘‘The non-at-         lieve, realistic target of bring-
   nology to medical situations,       is not to improve ‘traditional      ging waiting times ^ as well       minders are sent to outpatients      tendance figure for patients on      ing non-attendance down to a              Management.
   modelling patient flow in           efficiencies’, nor is it about      as for anybody involved in         by SMS or e-mail, initially at       the SMS system dropped to            5 per cent level.’’
   clinical settings with a view       changing the way in which           healthcare administration or       15, ten and five-day intervals.      just 8 per cent over the period.’’      While the Defero system
   to improving the patient ex-        people work. Instead, the           management.                           ‘‘We believe the most com-           Dermot Cullinan, head of          was an investment primarily                 For a brochure on our Healthcare
   perience and easing the pres-       benefits lie in the ability to                                         mon cause is that people just        ITR, said that Defero messa-         targeted at outpatient DNA                    Management Services phone
   sure on already stretched           better manage patient flow             For further information         forget the exact date and many       ging was just one element of a       rates, it is envisaged that it will                   022-20799 or
   healthcare systems.                 and to get more out of what         contact: Feargal Timon, B.         of our patients simply do not        combined effort between the          be used for other communica-         
      Despite the fact that such       organisations already have.         E., M. Eng. Sc., CIM Ireland       use a diary,’’ said Martina Cor-     clinical and administrative          tions purposes throughout the
   technology is widely used              ‘‘Typical benefits include a     Ltd., Brooklawn, Salthill,         coran, the IT department pro-        teams.                               hospital. Staff notifications or        Testimonials include
   throughout the US, Britain          25 per cent reduction in wait-      Galway, Phone : 091-               ject manager for the trial.             ‘‘We used poster campaigns,       alerts, for example, can be
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                . ‘‘Alpha helped stop the ‘run away train’
   and Australia, it has never         ing time and a 10 per cent im-      770737, Email : Feargal.Ti-        ‘‘Advance appointments are           leaflets and reminders to pa-        automatically generated or
   been used by health services        provement in number of     or               usually made when the patient        tients in order to emphasise         sent speedily to specific groups           in my Practice!’’ Cork GP,
   in Ireland.                         patients treated,’’ he said.                  is in a clinic; confirmation let-    the importance of keeping ap-        such as clinical staff on call, or      . ‘‘Alpha has reduced the stress of running my
      ‘‘Simulation modelling is        ‘‘This means that healthcare                                           ters are posted of course. But,      pointments or re-scheduling          if required in emergency situa-
                                                                                                              for a range of reasons, the level    them and, of course, making it       tions. Ad hoc requirements for             Practice considerably’’ Galway GP,
   an ideal fit for the healthcare     facilities will be able to get 10
   industry,’’ said Feargal Ti-        p er c e nt more p eople                                               of non-attendance at appoint-        easy to do that. As part of that     messages to patients or staff           . ‘‘If only I had this type of service 20 years ago’’
   mon, managing director of           through without having to                                              ments varies from around 15          we invited patients to opt in to     can be sent using a simple web             Tipperary GP.
                                                                                                              per cent to over 40 per cent,        the SMS scheme, so that we           interface.
SEPTEMBER 27 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               n31


Early detection key to better economics
                                                                                                                                                                                                  But the ideal is in fact very complex and      healthcare systems is generally agreed to
Leslie Faughnan speaks to the new                                                                                                                                                              challenging, and no national healthcare
                                                                                                                                                                                               environment has yet come near.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 be the rising age profile of our popula-
head of Siemens Healthcare about the                                                                                                                                                              ‘‘Take the unique patient identifier.That
                                                                                                                                                                                               is at the core of all information requests
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ‘‘There are two key aspects of that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 which are driving where we need to go in
contribution that advanced technology can                                                                                                                                                      and data exchange between clinical and
                                                                                                                                                                                               other systems. Yet many countries includ-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 healthcare systems,’’ Dand said. ‘‘One is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 that a huge proportion of the diseases
                                                                                                                                                                                               ing Ireland do not yet have a system.’’           which healthcare must deal with are
make to more cost-effective healthcare                                                                                                                                                            From an ICTpoint of view it is all about       chronic, like coronary conditions, cancers,
                                                                                                                                                                                               standards, taking out ambiguities and en-         pulmonary conditions and so on.That is a
                                                                                                                                                                                               suring that systems can work together             clinching argument for systems to manage

                             e like to think       The economic problems of healthcare                                                                                                         and exchange data because it is consistent.       effectively the ongoing care and monitor-
                              that all of our   costs, ageing populations and higher ex-                                                                                                          ‘‘Take today’s state-of-the-art diagnos-       ing so that we reduce the incidence of cri-
                              systems and       pectations are universal, according to                                                                                                         tic images,’’ Dand said. ‘‘Y have to have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ou                  tical episodes and hospitalisation.’’
                              o ngo i ng        Dand.                                                                                                                                          a common image format and, for example,              In the US, he points out, it is estimated
                              R&D ^ which          ‘‘When you look at the bigger picture of                                                                                                    a way to ensure an image is not flipped left      that 83 per cent of all healthcare costs are
                              are running at    delivering healthcare it is clear that one                                                                                                     to right, which could have serious conse-         in the treatment of chronic diseases. The
about e1 billion a year ^ is focused on the     key to reducing or controlling overall costs                                                                                                   quences’’                                         other, and complementary, aspect is that
patient experience in healthcare,’’ said Ke-    is in improving process and work flow                                                                                                             Better clinical information led to better      early diagnosis and detection is funda-
vin Dand, head of Siemens Healthcare in         throughout the services,’’ he said.                                                                                                            patient outcomes, Dand said. The key is           mental not only in given better clinical out-
Ireland, who has extensive experience in           He cited the examples of ‘in vivo’ diag-                                                                                                    joined-up ICT, but the joins have to be con-      comes but is also proven by all research to
Germany and Britain.                            nostics, such as where the patient under-                                                                                                      sistent and standards-based across all sys-       be much more economical in a healthcare
   ‘‘But that includes both the in-room ex-     goes MRI or X-ray scans, and in vitro,                                                                                                         tems and equipment. He acknowledged               service context.
perience,when being actively diagnosed or       which means laboratory and other tests                                                                                                         that different vendors had different ap-             ‘‘We actually have the systems, drugs
treated, and the out-of-room experience         on samples taken from the patient.             Kevin Dand, head of Siemens Healthcare in Ireland                                               proaches and protocols.                           and skills to meet the future of healthcare
which has to do with the healthcare ser-           ‘‘Today, all vendors provide their sys-                                                                                                        ‘‘In the end this is not about technical       as it appears to be shaping up,’’ said Dand.
vices generally.There is or should be a con-    tems in these areas with the power to feed                                                                                                     merit, but about agreed standards, so that        ‘‘The greater urgency at this stage is the
tinuum of care between all of the activities    the resulting data quickly into other sys-     be delivered immediately to the clinician       in healthcare and, ideally, no healthcare       the interoperability we need can actually         means to pull them all together more ef-
and systems which impact on the patient         tems,’’ he said. ‘‘With the right ICT infra-   at the bedside. The ‘any time, anywhere’        professional need be tied to a particular       take place.’’                                     fectively for the patient and the healthcare
experience.The key to that is information.’’    structure, that type of information could      mantra in the business world also applies       reporting station or piece of equipment.’’         The biggest challenge to all national          budgets.’’

Data centre joins the dots in new HSE strategy
                                                                                                                                               plans to cut the public purse      budgets have forced sites to            towards the holy grail of a uni-   speeding up treatment while
By Ian Campbell                                                                                                                                even further. Perhaps the most     squeeze more life out of their          versal Electronic Health Re-       saving time and money asso-
                                                                                                                                               significant progress has been      existing IT investments, parti-         cord. Other ventures that          ciated with transporting pa-
                                                                                                                                               made on the introduction of a      cularly if it is still working well.    explore the potential of the IP    tients across the country.

             he National Health                                                                                                                patient administration system         ‘‘In the current economic            infrastructure have been car-         On another positive note, an
             Data Centre is a                                                                                                                  developed by iSoft.                climate it makes sense for those        ried out on a pilot basis, such    aggressive part of HSE policy
             key national infor-                                                                                                                  ‘‘The main benefit is that it   that have a good system to              as a telemedicine solution         has been to expand the role of
             mation and com-                                                                                                                   gives the hospitals an inte-       postpone the migration or inte-         trialled between between Our       the primary, community and
mu n i c at ion t e ch nolog i e s                                                                                                             grated system that is secure       grate with what is there,’’ said        Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin, and      continuing care function which
(ICT) programme from the                                                                                                                       and specifically tailored to       Daly. ‘‘People recognise that           Cork University Hospital. An       includes nursing teams and oc-
Health S er vic e Exe cutive                                                                                                                   healthcare professionals, let-     spending money on ripping               integrated video conferencing      cupational therapists on the
(HSE) ^ and the latest move in                                                                                                                 ting them share knowledge          out what is good and func-              solution has helped diagnostic     frontline of patient care.
its drive to promote a consis-                                                                                                                 and records of various patient     tional is not necessarily deli-         quality images from Cork-             The target is to have half the
tency of services, standards                                                                                                                   interactions,’’ she said.          ver i ng the b e st valu e for          based patient to Dublin based      country covered by the end of
and patient experiences across                                                                                                                    The challenge is in the inte-   money.’’                                consultants in real time.          the year, and a new procure-
Ireland. Announced in July, it                                                                                                                 gration.With each site running        So far, the system has been             The system gave a hospital      ment process is expected to
replaces the co-location of in-                                                                                                                legacy systems the ideal move      successfully implemented in             immediate access to a centre       support the new locations and
dividual applications in differ-                                                                                                               would have been to ‘swap-out’      around 50 per cent of its target        of excellence in a way that was    integrate them with the Na-
ent data centres.                                                                                                                              the technology but reduced         sites, but it is a radical first step   simply not possible before,        tional Health Network.
   Using Eircom’s 120,0 00
square foot Clonshaugh facil-
ity, the centre will house all key
systems for HSE hospitals and
health service offices nation-       At the new HSE National Health Data Centre were: (front row) Colm Hoban, director,
wide, including hospital clini-      government markets, Eircom; Gerard Hurl, national ICT director, HSE; and Dalma
cal applications,                    Daly, head of health sector business, Eircom, and (back row): Declan Ivory, general
administrative and e-mail sys-       manager, data centre services, Eircom; Paul McSweeney, assistant national
te ms. Manage ment of the
                                     director, ICT operations & infrastructure, HSE; and Pat Thornton, general manager
HSE’s SAP implementation is
already run from Clonshaugh,         network and security operations, HSE
which will also be home to the         ‘‘Eircom is the key network     head of health sector business     vers value, controls costs and
central data repository for the      infrastructure provider to the    at Eircom. ‘‘HSE went with         reduces risk.’’
upcoming national medical            HSE and it is a flagship custo-   our hosting centre because it is      This was the second signifi-
imaging project.                     mer of ours,’’ said Dalma Daly,   a secure environment that deli-    cant win for Eircom since the
                                                                                                          HSE was formed in 2005 and
                                                                                                          given the task of unifying dis-
                                                                                                          parate systems belonging to
                                                                                                          the old health boards, creating
                                                                                                          a joined-up healthcare service.
                                                                                                             Three years ago, Eircom
                                                                                                          won the competitive tender
                                                                                                          process to run the new Na-
                                                                                                          tional Health Network which
                                                                                                          is currently used by 35,000
                                                                                                          health workers. Its next-gen-
                                                                                                          eration communications plat-
                                                                                                          form offers scalable, high-
                                                                                                          speed Ethernet access to an IP
                                                                                                          MPLS backbone, allowing for
                                                                                                          multiple virtual private net-
                                                                                                          works (VPNs) to connect hos-
                                                                                                          pitals and key administration
                                                                                                          centres around the country.
                                                                                                             ‘‘The new network is about
                                                                                                          the provision of advanced
                                                                                                          voice and data services to the
                                                                                                          HSE,’’ said Daly. ‘‘It is a work-
                                                                                                          in-progress that is in approxi-
                                                                                                          mately 40 sites, but the plan is
                                                                                                          to have a single national plat-
                                                                                                          form to connect every hospital
                                                                                                          in line with the broader HSE
                                                                                                             The National Health Net-
                                                                                                          work delivers Lan-speed band-
                                                                                                          width to HSE locations and
                                                                                                          connects them back to the Na-
                                                                                                          tional Health Centre, provid-
                                                                                                          ing the platform for a national
                                                                                                          strategy that will facilitate the
                                                                                                          consolidation of applications
                                                                                                          and, eventually, the longer-
                                                                                                          term delivery of shared ICT
                                                                                                          services nationally.
                                                                                                             Daly described Eircom as a
                                                                                                          concentric ICTservice integra-
                                                                                                          tor at the epicentre of a restruc-
                                                                                                          tured and consolidated service.
                                                                                                          But she was quick to acknowl-
                                                                                                          edge that progress using the
                                                                                                          network as a platform for 21st
                                                                                                          century healthcare had not
                                                                                                          been as quick as might have
                                                                                                          been hoped.
                                                                                                             ‘‘We’re not quite there yet.
                                                                                                          Embedding the network has
                                                                                                          been a major exercise, and it is
                                                                                                          still early days for harnessing
                                                                                                          the IP for more sophisticated
                                                                                                          applications,’’ she said.
                                                                                                             Well-documented cuts in
                                                                                                          Department of Health fund-
                                                                                                          ing, from what was already a
                                                                                                          low starting point compared
                                                                                                          to other EU countries, has
                                                                                                          made progress difficult, not
                                                                                                          helped by the recession and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST
n32                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 SEPTEMBER 27 2009


Telehealthcare is coming
and clinical
offer a cost-
solution to
coping with
writes Leslie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ivan Harrow, European market development manager
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            for Intel’s new telehealth system

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ternatively, larger-scale ser-       managing chronic diseases,’’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            vices would involve teams of         Harrow said.

          t is a small unit with a                                                                                                                                                                                          clinicians and a contact centre         About 80 per cent of GP vis-
          10-inch colour screen                                                                                                                                                                                             or potential triage unit which       its and 60 per cent of hospital
          that looks not unlike                                                                                                                                                                                             would proactively monitor a          bed days are related to chronic
          a slightly bulky video-                                                                                                                                                                                           larger panel of patients.’’          diseases and their complica-
          phone or a ch ild’s                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Intel system is not de-       tions.
          computer. However,                                                                                                                                                                                                signed for emergency use, Har-          ‘‘This is the context in which
this electronic carer will help                                                                                                                                                                                             row says. It is primarily based      early diagnosis, monitoring
people with chronic diseases                                                                                                                                                                                                on guided self-help by the pa-       and primary care in the home
to live independently, probably      The Intel Health Guide home unit is essentially a small PC that can be used at home, or wherever the owner can get a broadband connection                                              tient with a chronic condition       and community is the priority
for longer and without serious                                                                                                                                                                                              and the capture and recording        for all health services,’’Harrow
episodes, because it enables re-                                                                                                                                                                                            of relevant clinical information     said. ‘‘Telehealth systems offer
mote monitoring of the pa-           PC with specific capabilities      itoring service based on vital                                           both patient and clinician,’’           the patient information and        for doctors.                         a hugely significant contribu-
tient’s condition by doctors         for certain vital sign monitor-    sign monitoring and recording,                                           Harrow said.                            guidance through multimedia           ‘‘This is all part of what has    tion to the care of the patients
and healthcare services.
   The Intel Health Guide is
                                     ing such as blood pressure,
                                     temperature, heart rate, glu-
                                                                        with the patients empowered
                                                                        to carry out an active and posi-       The                                  The patient enjoys indepen-
                                                                                                                                                 dent living and the professional
                                                                                                                                                                                         content,usually informative vi-
                                                                                                                                                                                         deo or other material about the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            to be a new era of preventive
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            medicine in the community,’’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 and the e conomics of our
the product of almost a deca-        cose level, weight and other in-   tive role in their own care. Var-                                        caregiver has a complete pic-           relevant conditions. This ele-     he said. ‘‘Here, as in other            The costs are key, and Har-
de’s research, currently being       dicators which will vary by        ious other monitoring devices          headline                          ture of key vital signs, current        ment of content can be played      countries, we have an ageing         row said the price of the Intel
completed in pilot in NHS            patient. Each patient is trained   or sensors can be connected to                                           and historic, on which to make          or recommended during an in-       population, and most health-         Health Guide home unit would
Lothian, Scotland, and in the        to use the unit for the relevant   the main device.                       feature is                        any clinical decisions or give          teractive session or accessed by   c are de m ands ste m from           be under e1,000 and the clini-
Netherlands. Other trials are        tests, so it can be used at home      In some respects, the head-                                           advice.                                 the patient at convenient times.   chronic disease.’’                   cal management suite is in line
expected in several other EU
states’ national healthcare ser-
                                     or in fact wherever the owner
                                     can get a broadband connec-
                                                                        line feature is that this Intel
                                                                        unit actually is a videophone.
                                                                                                               that this                            ‘‘The other picture, the vi-
                                                                                                                                                 deo conversation, can give the
                                                                                                                                                                                            ‘‘There are broadly two
                                                                                                                                                                                         models for how this system
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The research shows the pro-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            blems. About a third of men
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 with general specialist soft-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ware costs. ‘‘At the patient
vices. In Ireland, according to
Ivan Harrow, Intel’s European
                                        That is the other key part of
                                                                        It enables scheduled or im-
                                                                        promptu communications be-
                                                                                                               Intel unit is                     experienced clinician literally
                                                                                                                                                 a fuller picture of the patient
                                                                                                                                                                                         can be used for care in the
                                                                                                                                                                                         home,’’ Harrow said. ‘‘The pri-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            over 60 have two or more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            chronic conditions, while a full
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 end, the additional charges
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 would be about e2 a day for
market development manager
for the product, some trials are
                                     the system. These units are de-
                                     signed to link over broadband
                                                                        tween the patients and the
                                                                        healthcare professionals look-         actually a                        including all of the non-verbal
                                                                                                                                                 information that can be very
                                                                                                                                                                                         mary care service can either be
                                                                                                                                                                                         a general practice, with physi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            three-quarters of people over
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            75 have at least one chronic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 the monitoring service and the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 broadband costs,’’ he said.
beginning with private clinics       to a clinical management suite     ing after them.                                                          important in making deci-               cians looking after and inter-     condition.                              It is quite possible that the
and homecare services.               at the healthcare professional        ‘‘It is this face-to-face hu-       videophone                        sions,’’ Harrow said.                   acting thos e of their own            ‘‘It is estimated that about      home units would be supplied
   The Intel Health Guide            end. The overall system is es-     man interaction that makes it                                               Because the Intel unit is a          patients who would be suited       three quarters of our health-        by a telehealth service on a
home unit is essentially a small     sentially a remote patient mon-    such an attractive option for                                            PC, it can also be used to give         to monitoring in this way. Al-     care expenditure is related to       long or short-term rental basis.

Mercers Medical Centre’s prescription for progress
                                                                                                                                                 nohoe said.The practice has an                                             summary. You can then just           miliarity with the practical
                                                                                                            By Leslie Faughnan                   active patient list of over 5,000                                          click to drill down into any spe-    day-to-day needs of busy doc-
                                                                                                                                                 between its 1,000 GMS pa-                                                  cific part, such as a previous       tors in general practice.’’
                                                                                                                                                 tients and private clients.                                                consultation report or a set of         The emphasis, Rossiter said,
                                                                                                            Mercers Medical Centre is               ‘‘We have 34,000 patient re-                                            diagnostic results,’’ said O’Do-     was on making all routine ad-
                                                                                                            based on the site of the former      cords on the system,’’ said                                                nohoe.                               ministration easy and even
                                                                                                            Mercers Hospital in Dublin.          O’Donohue. ‘‘That might help                                                  Standard templates and            automated so that the accounts
                                                                                                            There has been a healthcare fa-      explain why we took the deci-                                              forms for all regular reports or     system, for example,was linked
                                                                                                            cility of some kind on this site     sion about five years ago to be-                                           hospital referrals made for easy     to the patient consultation re-
                                                                                                            since a home for lepers was          come a fully computerised                                                  and speedy administrative            cords. ‘‘That is the basis for
                                                                                                            founded by monks in 1190. To-        practice. The transition took                                              tasks, O’Donohoe said.               the web style interface and Mi-
                                                                                                            day, it is home to a paperless       about six months, transferring                                                ‘‘But we are also very happy      crosoft .Net architecture of the
                                                                                                            medical practice with four doc-      information from paper files                                               with the powerful but flexible       new suite. It is easy for the new
                                                                                                            tor partners,two medical regis-      to the practice management                                                 analysis and reporting capabil-      clerical recruit or the experi-
                                                                                                            trars and two practice nurses.       system. Over time, as patients                                             ities. That is already proving       enced clinician to use. Setting
                                                                                                               ‘‘We are an independent           came back to us after whatever                                             valuable for our own direct          it up is particularly easy for a
                                                                                                            practice founded in the early        interval, all of the current pa-                                           purposes, such as monitoring         new practice, whether sole
                                                                                                            1980s by the medical faculty of      tient list records were added to                                           flu vaccinations at this stage of    practitioner or group.’’
                                                                                                            the RCSI and we are, to this         the database.’’                                                            the year.’’                             A key aspect of any such sys-
                                                                                                            day, closely affiliated to the de-      Paper is an inevitable ele-                                                He said that, when the Irish      tem is that it must conform to
                                                                                                            partment of general medicine,’’      ment in healthcare administra-                                             Medicines Board decided to           m a n d ator y s t a n d a r d s i n
                                                                                                            said Dr Alan O’Donohoe.              t ion, but i n Me rc e r s any                                             recall anti-inflammatory drug        healthcare information and
                                                                                                               Mercers participates ac-          incoming correspondence and             Declan Rossiter                    Aulin last year, it was easy to      data exchange, as well as in
                                                                                                            tively in medical education          reports are scanned and en-                                                identify the relevant patients       technical features such as in-
                                                                                                            and research, and has two post-      tered into the relevant electro-                                           and send a standard letter ad-       teroperability.
                                                                                                            graduate registrars in general       nic records.                            tified a number of advantages      vising them of the develop-             ‘‘The software has to ensure
                                                                                                            practice for their final year of        Mercers moved on to Helix            we could gain, notably an inter-   ments. If any of those patients      compliance with all of that,
                                                                                                            training.                            P ra c t i c e Ma n a g e r t h r e e   face that is more user-friendly    were ill, they could be quickly      while being an easy to use ad-
                                                                                                               ‘‘We are also the nominated       months ago, a relatively easy           which we have had customised       identified and a telephone con-      ministrative tool for purely in-
                                                                                                            GP service to the 2,500 stu-         transition because the GP clin-         to our own set of preferences.     tact list generated with a few       practice tasks such as schedul-
                                                                                                            dents of the RCSI, so although       ical system it had been using           Any patient record, for exam-      clicks.                              ing, workflow, billing and ac-
                                                                                                            they are young and healthy, it       was acquired some time ago              ple, has an opening screen with       But since Mercers Clinic is       counts and so on, as well as
Dr Alan O’Donohoe of Mercers Medical Centre                                               MAURA HICKEY      keeps our numbers up,’’ O’Do-        by Helix Health. ‘‘We had iden-         all the information laid out in    strongly involved in ongoing         dealing with the intricacies of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            research, as well as the projects    GMS claims and payments.’’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            undertaken by its annual in-            On the clinical side, more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            take of medical registrars, ana-     and more diagnostic and other
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            lysis that can be correlated with    high-tech equipment is to be
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            specific sub-sets, as well as the    found in general practice. Data
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            entire patient list, is already of   generated by such instruments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            significant value.                   should be taken directly into a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Most general practices have       practice management system
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the same broad set of ICT re-        and the specific patient’s re-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            quirements, said Declan Rossi-       cords. ‘‘Similarly, the systems
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ter, director of Helix Health,       should be able to interface with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            who looks after both the Helix       others such as,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Practice Manager suite and           the national online communi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Health One, the software de-         cations system linking GPs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            veloped by his former com-           and hospitals,’’ Rossiter said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            pany, Health Ireland, which             Modern general practice is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            was acquired by Helix Health.        increasingly multi-disciplin-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ‘‘We have a good bird’s eye       ary, and more and more diag-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            view because 850 practices ^         nosti c and mon itor ing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            of the 1,150 or so that the Col-     technology is being used.Com-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            lege of General Practitioners        prehensive practice manage-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            has identified as ‘compu-            m e nt s oft ware i s what
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            terised’ practices ^ use one of      integrates specialised clinical
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            our software packages. The           activities and information for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            new Helix Practice Manager           better patient care and more ef-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            product is the fruit of that fa-     ficient running of the practice.
SEPTEMBER 27 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 n33


                                                                                                                                                                                    Hospital benefits from
Private clinics are in                                                                                                                                                              online referral system
good diagnostic health                                                                                                                                                              By Leslie Faughnan

                                                                                                                                                                                    The everyday healthcare task
                                                                                                                                                                                    of referring patients to hospi-
                                                                                                                                                                                    tals and consultants or special
A leading                                                                                                                                                                           clinics has historically been la-
                                                                                                                                                                                    borious and all too often ineffi-
health service                                                                                                                                                                      c i e nt b e c aus e of p oor
                                                                                                                                                                                    handwr iting, poor quality
provider puts                                                                                                                                                                       faxes, mis-addressed letters
                                                                                                                                                                                    and other factors. Both hospi-
                                                                                                                                                                                    tals and GPs recognised the
its success                                                                                                                                                                         need for a better way of doing
                                                                                                                                                                                    things. In Cork, the South In-
down to a                                                                                                                                                                           firmary Victoria University
                                                                                                                                                                                    Hospital (SIVUH) pioneered
combination of                                                                                                                                                                      an online system in 2006.
                                                                                                                                                                                        ‘‘That first pilot was for our
fast and                                                                                                                                                                            Chest Pain Assessment Unit,’’
                                                                                                                                                                                    said Ronan O’Connell, head of
efficient                                                                                                                                                                           ITand management services in
                                                                                                                                                                                    the hospital. ‘‘We developed a
                                                                                                                                                                                    secure web-based system that
patient care,                                                                                                                                                                       allowed GPs to enrol and then
                                                                                                                                                                                    log on and make the referral re-
writes Ian                                                                                                                                                                          quest and enter the patient in-
                                                                                                                                                                                    formation in a standard form.         Ronan O’Connell, head of IT and management services,
Campbell                                                                                                                                                                            We could then acknowledge
                                                                                                                                                                                    i m m e d i at e l y a n d fol l ow
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and Juliette Wells, help desk coordinator of the South
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Infirmary Victoria University Hospital
                                                                                                                                                                                    through very quickly with a
                                                                                                                                                                                    provisional time and date for         generated because of incorrect       periods, and to check back on

                        ith 200                                                                                                                                                     the appropriate clinical ap-          or insufficient patient informa-     their own activity in the refer-
                        centres                                                                                                                                                     pointment.’’                          tion, misread handwriting, and       ral system.
                        ac ross                                                                                                                                                         The system was extended to        so on.                                  The SIVUH online referral
                        15                                                                                                                                                          Breast Clinic, and proved both           ‘‘Any errors in healthcare        system is so far unique to Cork
                        coun-                                                                                                                                                       successful and much appre-            administration can have po-          although other hospitals have
                        tries, it                                                                                                                                                   ciated by the hospital adminis-       tentially serious consequences       looked at it. ‘‘We developed it
is hard to argue with the suc-                                                                                                                                                      trative staff and the GPs.            in patient care,’’ O’Connell         originally with a little help
cess of Euromedic Interna-                                                                                                                                                              ‘‘We now have a total of 16       said. ‘‘So that was a significant    from our web supplier for our
tional, but a more us eful                                                                                                                                                          hospital departments partici-         benefit.’’                           own agenda,’’ O’Connell said.
exercise for healthcare profes-                                                                                                                                                     pating in the scheme and more            SIVUH uses a unique pa-           ‘‘But the needs and the pro-
sionals might be to try and ex-                                                                                                                                                     than 170 doctors across Mun-          tient identifier for each patient,   cesses are much the same all
plain its rapid growth.             Paddy Creedon, chief executive of Euromedic International in Ireland                                                                            ster registered to use the online     meaning that there is a single       over the country so it could
   Paddy Creedon, chief execu-                                                                                                                                                      system who need no special            integrated record for each one,      certainly be just copied by
tive of the company in Ireland,                                                                                                                                                     software, just their log-on           no ambiguity or duplicated re-       others.’’
is clear about the market need      tient. In between there is a lot   in the same sort of time frame.’’   ceiving the results. We use ex-         service to the consumer at a     PIN,’’ he said.                       cords and better quality ad-            The punch line in this small
that the medical service provi-     of diagnostics going on,’’ said        An appointment is the start-    tremely modern equipment                competitive price. It takes          As well as being speedy and       ministrative data as a result. It    but perfectly formed ITsuccess
der meets.                          Creedon.                           ing point for anyone who en-        that is all about making sure           three hours and includes blood   efficient, the online system has      also enables doctors to update       story is the costs involved. ‘‘We
   ‘‘There is definitely a de-         Euromedic provides a wide       ters the healthcare process and     the patients are treated as             analyses, the results of which   taken out the errors that the         their information, from change       reckon it was less than e500,’’
mand in all of these countries      range of diagnostics proce-        it’s an area that Euromedic has     quickly and safely as possible.’’       you get before you leave.’’      manual process sometimes              of work address to locum cover       said O’Connell.
for fast, efficient, value-for-     dures including magnetic reso-     worked hard to make as quick           The clinics use cutting-edge
money diagnostics,’’ Creedon        nanc e imag ing (MRI),             and smooth as possible. The         technologies which in the case
said.                               computer tomography (CT),          company runs a dedicated ap-        of diagnostics includes the lat-
   Euromedic’s spectacular          x-ray and ultrasound. It claims    pointment centre that takes         est imaging modalities, such as
rise has been mirrored in Ire-      to combine leading-edge tech-      calls direct from GPs or pa-        radiology information systems
land where it began with the        nology with first-class staffing   tients, providing they have a re-   (RIS) and picture archive and
acquisition of MRI Ireland in       and procedures to create a         ferral.                             c o m m u n i c at i o n s ys t e m s
March 2007. It has since taken      new paradigm for medical               While speed and efficiency      (PAC).
over Rockfield Medical Cam-         imaging diagnostic services in     are core to the principles of          RIS are used for the tracking
pus, Dublin City University         Ireland.                           the company, there is never         and scheduling a patient’s pro-
Urgent Care Centre, North-             Carrying out 120 MRIs           any compromise in patient           gress through the diagnostics,
wood Imaging Radiology &            every day, the company prides      care                                as well as the management of
MRI Centre and the Charle-          itself on a fast turnaround.The        ‘‘When a patient comes into     the data. PACs are dedicated
mont imaging clinic.                actual appointment usually         our clinics, the priority is all    servers used for the storage, re-
   In Ireland it has five diag-     lasts around 20 minutes, much      about their care and safety,’’      trieval, distribution and pre-
nostic centres and one pathol-      quicker than in a typical hospi-   said Ian Lennon, chief infor-       sentation of medical images.
og y u n it, wh i ch ref le c t a   tal, according to Creedon.         mation officer. ‘‘At our end, it       Euromedic also incorpo-
business model based on clear       Making an appointment is also      is ab out mov i ng patie nts        rates the latest speech recogni-
demand.                             a priority. ‘‘Patients typically   through a workflow process          tion systems (speech to text) to
   ‘‘On average people visit        get to see their GPs in 24-48      that starts when make an ap-        get even more out of the tech-
GPs four times a year, yet only     hours. We believe they should      pointment and goes through to       nology, and further streamline
6 per cent end up as an in-pa-      get diagnostics and blood tests    them having the scan and re-        the diagnostic process. ‘‘As the
                                                                                                           radiologists view the images on
                                                                                                           the monitors, they are talking
                                                                                                           into a microphone and form-
                                                                                                           ing the content that will even-
                                                                                                           tually be the finished report,’’
                                                                                                           said Lennon.
                                                                                                              When it comes to sharing
                                                                                                           the results, technology is again
                                                                                                           leveraged to speed up the pro-
                                                                                                           cess and make it more efficient.
                                                                                                           ‘‘Reports can of course printed
                                                                                                           and faxed, but we also make
                                                                                                           them available online,’’ said
                                                                                                              Using a secure encrypted
                                                                                                           portal, GPs can log onto a site
                                                                                                           and view images online, com-
                                                                                                           plete with highlighted areas
                                                                                                           that need special attention.
                                                                                                           ‘‘Security is important so GPs
                                                                                                           can only see their patient’s re-
                                                                                                           ports,’’ said Lennon, ‘‘but it
                                                                                                           means they can get the patient
                                                                                                           report and the images in real
                                                                                                           time, as soon as they have been
                                                                                                           approved by radiologists.’’
                                                                                                              The Euromedic systems are
                                                                                                           run and managed centrally
                                                                                                           across all of the clinics, which
                                                                                                           means patients are not neces-
                                                                                                           sarily tied to one centre. At the
                                                                                                           same time it gives the company
                                                                                                           a consistent platform to hone
                                                                                                           and perfect.
                                                                                                              One of the challenges with
                                                                                                           the growth of the company
                                                                                                           was bringing each newly ac-
                                                                                                           quired clinic on to the same
                                                                                                           technology platform. ‘‘Some
                                                                                                           have been new sites which are
                                                                                                           always more straightforward,
                                                                                                           but for others we had to engage
                                                                                                           in data migration and system
                                                                                                           upgrades. It takes time with
                                                                                                           each, particularly when they
                                                                                                           have completely different
                                                                                                           workflow systems,’’ said Len-
                                                                                                              Streamlining the IT is part
                                                                                                           of a company-wide approach
                                                                                                           to efficiency that reflects a
                                                                                                           fast-moving market. Eurome-
                                                                                                           dic is keenly aware of the need
                                                                                                           to be competitive, especially in
                                                                                                           these stricken times. The cost
                                                                                                           of an MRI, for example, is half
                                                                                                           what it was six years ago.
                                                                                                              ‘‘There is a phenomenal
                                                                                                           downward pressure on prices
                                                                                                           and we have to reflect that,’’
                                                                                                           said Creedon. ‘‘This month we
                                                                                                           launched a health screening
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST
n34                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SEPTEMBER 27 2009


Mallow leads way in primary care
                                                                                                                                                                                                Pulling it all together

                                                                                                                                                                                             Dr Thomas Carroll, of the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre; and Jack Nagle, of
                                                                                                                                                                                             Alpha Healthcare

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            involved in all aspects from the
                                                                                                                                                                                             By Leslie Faughnan                             negotiations with the Health Service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Executive (HSE) to the briefing of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            architects and liaison with the
                                                                                                                                                                                             Project management for the new Mallow          construction and building services teams.
                                                                                                                                                                                             Primary Healthcare Centre is the                  ‘‘MPHC is a good model in ICT
                                                                                                                                                                                             responsibility of Jack Nagle, founder and      terms,’’ Nagle said. ‘‘The design allows
Dr David Molony and Dr Harry Casey at the site of the new primary healthcare facility in Mallow, Co Cork                                                                                     managing director of Alpha Healthcare, a       for a comms room that is like a data
                                                                                                                                                                                             consultancy specialising in support for GP     centre with co-location. The entire
                                                                                                                                                                                             group practices and primary care centres.      building is Cat6 cabled with a generous
                                                                                                                                                     have neither the skills nor the            Nagle is an engineer with senior            allocation of access points. Each suite is
A new primary care centre will                                                                                                                       time to push through such a             management experience in medical               then linked by fibre-optic to the comms
                                                                                                                                                     project, the services of Alpha          devices and other areas, who saw that          room, where each tenant’s principal
set high standards for the rest of                                                                                                                   Healthcare and Jack Nagle
                                                                                                                                                     were commissioned to manage
                                                                                                                                                                                             healthcare professionals would need
                                                                                                                                                                                             support for practice management and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            servers will be sited.’’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               That provides for whatever network
the country to follow.                                                                                                                               the project on their behalf.
                                                                                                                                                        ‘‘It took us several years to
                                                                                                                                                                                             projects demanding business and
                                                                                                                                                                                             technical skills they could not be expected
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            design each business unit chooses and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            internal data traffic growth well into the
Leslie Faughnan reports                                                                                                                              find a suitable site,’’ Molony
                                                                                                                                                     said. ‘‘Then, we had negotia-
                                                                                                                                                                                             to have.
                                                                                                                                                                                                ‘‘Mallow is a very good example,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            future. Phone and internet access with a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            future proof level of capacity comes direct
                                                                                                                                                     tion and legal issues with the          because it is sizeable and is an initiative    to the comms facility to be shared by the
                                                                                                                                                     HSE that took nearly two                from a go-ahead set of doctors in practice     individual business subscribers through

                     e25 million       and dietetics, travel health,                                                                                 years, largely because this was         who knew what they wanted to achieve,          the building.
                    he althc are       health screening, psychology                                                                                  a unique initiative, certainly at       and got the HSE on board at an early              ‘‘Medical data traffic is becoming more
                    fa c i l ity i n   and counselling, minor sur-                                                                                   the early stages.’’                     enough stage for the facility to be designed   and more intensive, with shared
                    Mallow, Co         gery, primary care diagnostic                                                                                    The building was designed            to suit the requirements of all of its major   diagnostic imaging and telehealth
                    Cork will be       services, baby clinic, chiro-       Architect’s visualisation of the Mallow Primary                           by Devereux Architects, a               tenants,’’ Nagle said.                         developments including video-
                    fully opera-       practic, osteopathy and podia-      Healthcare Centre                                                         practice within the PM Group,              He could have added that, as the son of     conferencing,’’ Nagle said. ‘‘It is also to be
tional in earlyJanuary, and will       try services.                                                                                                 the project manager of the con-         a local GP himself, he also had a unique       assumed that most of the tenants will be
bring together in one location            ‘‘The key point for the com-                                                                               struction, which has extensive          knowledge of the area and the community.       using or moving to VoIP telephony.
the three leading private gener-       munity is that MPHC will            ‘‘We have co-operated as prac-       nology, where the sharing or         healthcare facility experience             Since there are about 200 primary care      MPHC is equipped to deal with all of that
al practices in the town, as well      bring together in one location      tices and local GPs over the         pooling of some key resources        in Ireland and Britain.                 facilities of various scales set to be         for the foreseeable future.’’
as the Health Service Execu-           almost all of the non-hospital      years, and began this project        makes sense for us and for the          ‘‘The practices had detailed         developed around the country under the            A good example is the top floor
tive (HSE) local health area of-       healthcare services that people     as a joint venture back in           community.’’                         input into their requirements           new health strategy for local care             education suite. MPHC is an education
fices and other healthcare-            might need,’’ said Dr David         2004.’’                                 An interesting structure for      in terms of space, layout, pa-          delivery, Alpha Healthcare already has a       partner of UCC medical school, and will
related tenants.                       Molony, GP and senior partner          The project has been funded       the pooled resources is what         tient flow through the building         large portfolio of clients.                    have registrars and students on work
   Designed and specified with         in the Red House family prac-       by the participating practices,      the participants are calling the     and the permanent technical                ‘‘We now have over 40 medical centres       experience – as well as researchers from
the organisations which will be        tice, who speaks for the three      totalling 14 doctor partners,        ‘fourth practice’. In effect, spe-   infrastructure,’’ Nagle said.           around the country on our books for            projects in which its own clinicians are
based there, the Mallow Pri-           medical practices that were         underwritten by the tenancies        cialist healthcare services that     ‘‘We got right down into the            practice management and related                involved.
m ar y He a lt h c a re C e ntre       the prime movers of the pro-        of the three practices and the       would be uneconomic or inef-         nitty-gritty of the ICT systems         consultancy,’’ Nagle said. ‘‘We are also          ‘‘That separate suite offers separation
(MPHC) is a 70,000 square              jects. The other practices are      HSE. SouthDoc, the co-opera-         ficient for each practice to own     they use and would like to use          involved in 17 projects for the                from the busy practices and is expected to
foot facility over three floors        the Medical Centre and the          tive call-out and locum ser-         separately will be provided          in the future.                          development of shared primary care             be used for education sessions that could
with separate suites for the var-      Cork Road Clinic.                   vice, will be based there, and       through this co-owned fourth            ‘‘Every clinical room has a          facilities. Just like Mallow, these are        include video links with Cork, hospitals or
ious practices and services.              ‘‘Our patients will meet         other health-related services        practice. That could include         minimum of four data points,            turnkey project management contracts.          multimedia training resources,’’ Nagle
   MPHC services will include          their own doctors and familiar      are in discussions.                  highly specialised diagnostic        and the entire facility is cabled       The clients tell us what they want to          said. ‘‘Linking primary and secondary
cardiac assessment and screen-         faces, but the shared service fa-      ‘‘It is important that the        equipment, for example, or the       with Cat6 throughout and fi-            achieve, and we are responsible for            care and the academic and training aspect
ing, respiratory laboratory, oc-       cility means everyone has a         practices keep their separate        services of a doctor with un-        bre-optic links from each suite         making it all happen, from concept to          of healthcare is very much part of the
cupational health, women’s             one-stop shop in a new, plea-       identities and character,’’ Mol-     ique expertise and experience        to a shared ‘comms’ room, ef-           keys.’’                                        joined up 21st century environment we all
and men’s health clinics, sports       sant and technically-advanced       ony said, ‘‘but we are also in a     in a specific area.                  fectively a small communal                 For the Mallow project, Alpha was           want to see.’’
health, dermatology, nutrition         environment,’’ Molony said.         new era of medicine and tech-           Acknowledging that doctors        data centre.’’

                                                                           General practices need specialist IT
                                                                                                                information from high tech di-       as a physicist before taking up       clearly best to go to current ex-
                                                                           By Post Reporter                     agnostic equipment.                  medicine, and has extensive           perts.’’
                                                                                                                   ‘‘Clunky database manage-         personal experience of soft-             Having done the market re-
                                                                                                                ment was an issue, for example,      ware programming. The give-           search, Tobin is very happy
                                                                           With a client portfolio of eight     with the original system slow-       away is the headset which is          with CompleteGP, and espe-
                                                                           general practices and about 40       ing down as the number of pa-        his interface to his Dragon           cially with the professional re-
                                                                           GPs, CompleteGP is the new           tient records grew,’’ he said.       speech-to-text dictation sys-         lationship he has formed with
                                                                           player as far as Irish healthcare       It was clear that Beame and       tem, a tool for daily use in get-     Beame.
                                                                           software is concerned. It was        Molony had a saleable pack-          ting infor mation into the               ‘‘We needed all of the nor-
                                                                           set up in 2006 and is already        age. The reaction from GPs           system.                               mal practice management
                                                                           on four practice management          who saw the CompleteGP sys-             ‘‘I set up our initial software    functionality, plus some be-
                                                                           suites accredited by the Gener-      tem in action led to early adop-     system in 1986,which was fairly       spoke elements, because of the
                                                                           al Practitioner Information          tion, spurred on by the GPIT         simple demographic and pa-            nature of our centre and the
                                                                           Technology (GPIT) group of           accreditation in 2007.               tient record stuff,’’ he said. ‘‘It   wide range of clinical disci-
                                                                           the Irish College of General            An example of the practical       was developed and extended            plines,’’ Tobin said.
                                                                           Practitioners.                       approach to usability in the         over the years, but in today’s           ‘‘It has all come together,
                                                                              ‘‘It all started when Dr Da-      software is that there are tem-      world of high-tech diagnostic         fully integrated and ready for
                                                                           vid Molony, now so much part         plates and auto-fill features for    systems and tight mandatory           any new clinical or technical
                                                                           of the MPHC project, asked           all standard reports, referrals      standards and accreditation           elements we may decide on in
                                                                           me to look at the system his         and correspondence.                  for healthcare software, it is        the future.’’                       Dr David Molony and Carl Beame of Complete GP
                                                                           practice was using and which            ‘‘But the system can use
                                                                           the UK-based vendors were            standard office WP software,
                                                                           not really interesting in sup-       from basic WordPad to the lat-
                                                                           porting any longer,’’ said Carl      est edition of Microsoft Word,’’
                                                                           Beame, chief technology offi-        Beame said.
                                                                           cer of CompleteGP, the com-             It is certainly working for
                                                                           pany that was subsequently set       Tobin Healthcare Centre, the
                                                                           up with Molony as a director.        Westport multi-disciplinary
                                                                              Beame, a Canadian soft-           practice which is led by broth-
                                                                           ware engineer who came to            ers Dr Richard Tobin, a GP,
                                                                           Ireland and was ‘‘semi-re-           and dental surgeon Dr LeoTo-
                                                                           tired’’, said that the ever-grow-    bin. Its other clinicians include
                                                                           ing de mands of a moder n            ophthalmologist Dr Katherine
                                                                           multidisciplinary medical            Tobin, and practice nurses.
                                                                           practice caught his profes-             ‘‘We have a network of over
                                                                           sional interest.                     20 PCs spread over thre e
                                                                              ‘‘As I got into it and looked     floors,’’ Richard Tobin said.
                                                                           at w h at t e c h n ol og y w a s    ‘‘They serve about a dozen of
                                                                           around, I became convinced           us in the practice. The idea is
                                                                           there were better ways of doing      that we can access information
                                                                           a lot of the things involved,’’ he   at any time, where we are or
                                                                           said.                                where the patient is. The ECG
                                                                              That ended up as a fresh          is on the ground floor, and I
                                                                           software solution, incorporat-       might want to view it on the
                                                                           ing some elements that were          third floor or consult about it
                                                                           actually Molony’s copyright,         with a colleague somewhere
                                                                           and a blank sheet approach to        else. All of that is quick and
                                                                           designing the elements from          easy.’’
                                                                           the interface with Healthlink,          A self-confessed technology
                                                                           to automating the capture of         enthusiast, Dr Tobin qualified
SEPTEMBER 27 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           n35

NEW BUSINESS                                                                                                                                                                                             EDITED BY ELAINE O’REGAN e-mail:

Entrepreneurs queue up for place on Endeavour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   intensive workshops, with indivi-
High-calibre mentors are to offer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  duals from the likes of Ernst &
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Young, William Fry and the Com-
one-to-one help on an ambitious                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    munications Clinic. Each business
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   plan will be challenged constantly,
start-up programme for technology                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  reviewed and reflected on.’’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The ten companies selected will
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   be based in the Tom Crean Centre
ventures, writes Dermot Corrigan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   in Tralee, with full access to the re-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   search and development facilities at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   the Institute of Technology, Tralee,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   and KerryTechnology Park.

                        ore than 500            O’Dwyer said the availability of                                                                                                                                                                                      ‘‘There is huge value in peer
                        entrepreneurs        one-to-one mentoring sessions with                                                                                                                                                                                    learning. They will be working to-
                        have applied         established entrepreneurs would set                                                                                                                                                                                   gether, able to bounce ideas off each
                        for a place on       Endeavour apart from similar start-                                                                                                                                                                                   other and share their own learning,’’
                        a new start-         up support schemes.                                                                                                                                                                                                   said O’Dwyer.
                        u p p ro -              ‘‘We have worked with start-ups                                                                                                                                                                                       The programme will focus on the
gramme launched this month by In-            in the past and, quite often, the feed-                                                                                                                                                                               need for start-ups to plan for global
stitute of Technology, Tralee, and           back highlights a requirement for                                                                                                                                                                                     growth from the outset. ‘‘A lot of Ir-
Shannon Development’s Kerry                  one-to-one mentoring. It is all very                                                                                                                                                                                  ish start-ups now need to be global
Technology Park.                             well to receive general assistance,                                                                                                                                                                                   from the world go.They are no long-
   There will be just ten places avail-      but individuals want something                                                                                                                                                                                        er competing with somebody with-
able to successful applicants on the         specific and customised to their                                                                                                                                                                                      in their own county or country.
Endeavour programme, a seven-                particular need,’’ she said.                                                                                                                                                                                          They are on a global stage. They
month start-up support and men-                 ‘‘We went after global entrepre-                                                                                                                                                                                   have to be very aware of that, and
toring initiative due to begin in Oc-        neurs of a really high calibre, people                                                                                                                                                                                be aware of the competition,’’ said
tober.                                       who have been there, learnt a lot,                                                                                                                                                                                    O’Dwyer.
   Endeavour is aimed at technol-            and give something back, so that                                                                                                                                                                                         Endeavour will culminate in an
ogy ventures with the potential to           people can avoid the pitfalls that                                                                                                                                                                                    international funding showcase in
grow internationally.                        they encountered at the start of their                                                                                                                                                                                April 2010, where the ten partici-
   ‘‘We went looking for people with         careers.’’                                                                                                                                                                                                            pants will present to potential inves-
the potential to scale up their busi-           Mentors involved in this year’s                                                                                                                                                                                    tors.
ness internationally, and the appli-         programme will include Frankie            Michael Carey, executive chairman, Jacob Fruitfield Group, with Charmaine Kenny, 2009 Rose of Tralee winner, and Breda O’Dwyer, programme                                      ‘‘By the end of April, the entre-
cations received certainly seem to           Whelehan, chairman of Choice Ho-          manager, Endeavour                                                                                                               PHOTOCALL                                  preneurs involved should be well
have that potential,’’ said Endea-           tels Group, ceo Eamonn                                                                                                                                                                                        able to stand in front of aVC forum
vour programme manager Breda                 Fallon, Worldspreads founder Con-         Spring, Kerry Group ceo Stan             October 15-16.                                The winning candidates will join       November 5 and 6. Following that,             and present their case for funding.
O’Dwyer.                                     or Foley, Michael Carey, executive                          ¤
                                                                                       McCarthy, and Padraig O’Ceidigh,           ‘‘Short-listed entrants will have to     an intensive seven-month fast-track       there will be an intensive workshop,          That would be a key output for us,
   ‘‘We had a response from a large          chairman of Jacob Fruitfield, and         chairman of Aer Arann.                   submit a more detailed business            programme based at Kerry Tech-            running two days every week into              for the end of the programme. We
number of sectors. There were lots           Stockbyte founder Jerry Kennelly,            O’Dwyer said a shortlist of appli-    plan, and present that to a panel of       nology Park. Each will be matched         the first week of December,’’ said            are looking at providing a pipeline
of entries from both telecommuni-            who was heavily involved in estab-        cants would be drawn up for the          our mentors. There will also be a          to a suitable mentor who will spend       O’Dwyer.                                      of future Irish international busi-
cations and software businesses.We           lishing the project.                      next stage of the selection process,     Q&A session on that day. Based on          six half-day sessions examining             ‘‘After that, each participant will         nesses, creating employment by
also have automated manufactur-                 Also involved in the programme         which will include a business valida-    how the day goes,we will then select       their business model and providing        have regular half-day one-to-one              leveraging off the expertise of cur-
ing entrants, and from the whole                            ¤
                                             are former Tanaiste and executive         tion workshop on October 5 fol-          the final ten on October 19,’’ said        advice and contacts.                      sessions with their mentors up until          rent global businesses based in Ire-
area of web-based enterprises.’’             vic e - chair man of Fexco Dick           lowed by business presentations on       O’Dwyer.                                      ‘‘We have a two-day kick-off on        the end of April. There will also be          land,’’ said O’Dwyer.

SMEs, sole traders benefit   Bally good idea for live news
from new accountancy service                                                                                                                            Company:
                                                                                                                                                        Ballywire Media
                                                                                                                                                      Sector: media
   Company:                                                                                                                                           Key to success: ‘‘Having
   TaxAssist                                                                                                                                          survived the past two years,
   Accountants                                                                                                                                        we are confident about the
 Sector: financial services                                                                                                                           future. Our platform will be
 Key to success: ‘‘We are                                                                                                                             an internationally traded
 not looking to compete with                                                                                                                          service. That is a huge
 the big accountancy mar-                                                                                                                             source of pride for us.’’ –
 kets, but we think we can                                                                                                                            Paul Collins, founder,
 carve a niche in our own.                                                                                                                            Ballywire Media
 There has been a lot of
 change within the accoun-
 tancy industry, including
 lay-offs, but we are com-                                                                                                                           By Niall Byrne
 pletely sold on the concept.
 We have no doubt that it’s

 going to work, as the                                                                                                                                             igital syndication
                                                                                                                                                                   agency Ballywire         Paul Collins of Ballywire Media interviews Paraic Duffy, GAA director general, in Croke Park
 market here is ripe for
                                                                                                                                                                   Media is launching                                                                                                         SPORTSFILE
 change.’’ – Greg Murphy,                                                                                                                                          a platform that will
 co-founder, TaxAssist                                                                                                                               allow journalists and media            creasingly have to publish to       stations to get content from it,’’       of free studio and office space
 Accountants                                                                                                                                         commentators to post news              blogs and social networking         he said.                                 in Cork city centre.
                                         Roddy Comyn and Greg Murphy, directors, TaxAssist Accountants                            TOMMY CLANCY       and commentary online and              sites and elsewhere on the web.         ‘‘That embodies how this all             ‘‘Winning the event in Cork
                                                                                                                                                     on mobile phones.                      After working for about a year      works. Effectively, we go into           was so important to us, be-
                                                                                                                                                         Paul Collins, founder of Bal-      on this specification, we hope      an event like that and approach          cause we can now invite in
                                         customers keen to keep costs       the market for providing those       late. In addition, this franchise   ly wire, said the platfor m,           to have our platform up and         it from an editorial perspective.        sports personalities or business
By Linda Daly                            under control.                     businesses with straightfor-         is ideally suited to those people   which has been in develop-             running by the spring of 2010.      When we cover an event, we               groups to interview in the same
                                            ‘‘Most traditional accoun-      ward, accessible tax and ac-         who have been made redun-           ment for the past 12 months,           We are convinced it will have       provide broadcast-quality con-           way Bloomberg would head-
                                         tancy practices and fir ms         countancy services.’’                dant and would like to go down      would drive the next phase of          major implications for the Irish    tent to TV, radio stations and           quarter their business in New
                                         charge on a time basis. They          As well as tax and accoun-        the self-employed route them-       the company’s growth. It will          and international market.’’         news websites that can’t attend          York,’’ said Collins, who also

               new start-up plans        usually give a ball-park figure,   tancy services, TaxAssist will       selves,’’ he said.                  allow users to publish video,             Collins,who works forToday       themselves.’’                            has plans to move the compa-
               to targ et SMEs           but charge by the hour for their   offer advice on VAT and tax              In Britain, where it has been   text and audio clips online and        FM as a sports reporter, has a          Collins hopes to position the        ny’s Dublin base out of the Di-
               and sole traders          services,’’ he said.               savings.                             in operation since 1996,TaxAs-      on mobile phones.                      professional background in          company, run in partnership              gital Depot on Thomas Street.
               with a range of              ‘‘We agree a fixed fee with        Other services will include       sist has a chain of 160 stores.         Established in 2007 to sup-        journalism and radio broad-         with Aoife Sheehan and David                 ‘‘‘We are in discussion with a
drop-in accountancy services.            the client from the start, which   debt recovery and financial              In Ireland, the company has     ply video and audio content to         casting. He hit upon the idea       Byrnes, as a uniquely Irish              number of developers with va-
Ta x A s s i s t A c c o u n t a n t s   offers the client the comfort of   and personnel advice.                already signed up one franchi-      broadcast, online and mobile           for the Ballywire venture in        news agency, providing content           cant office space in Dublin
opened its first store-front out-        knowing exactly how much the          Murphy and Comyn plan to          see based in Kimmage in Du-         platforms, Ballywire has so far        2004 when covering the US           of interest to Irish users nation-       right now with a view to estab-
let in Dublin’s Fairview last            bill will be.’’                    expand the business to include       blin.                               worked primarily with corpo-           elections.                          ally and internationally.                lishing our content headquar-
week.                                       Murphy believes that the        a nationwide chain of indepen-           The Fairview store, which       rate clients, for whom its offer-         ‘‘That was a eureka moment           Ballywire uses a network of          ters where people would come
    The company offers ser-              business has the potential to      dently owned outlets.                employs eight staff, will act as    i n g a i m s to m a x i m i s i n g   when I started thinking: ‘is        videographers and outsources             in and be interviewed. It would
vices, including tax returns,            succeed, despite the recession.       ‘‘In the next 12 to 18 months,    the head office for the planned     editorial exposure for spon-           there content out there that        technical development to a               be like a Sky News-type facil-
payroll, end-of-year accounts               ‘‘We are confident that the     we hope to open five to 10           nationwide roll-out, providing      sored events. Clients have in-         isn’t getting exposure on tradi-    variety of providers. The next           ity.
and book-keeping, on a fixed-            money we have invested has         shops and, after the initial per-    individual franchisees with         cluded O2, BT Ireland, Toyota          tional media in Ireland?’’’ he      phase will see the company of-               ‘‘The cost of setting some-
fee basis.                               been a wise investment, and        iod, things should accelerate.       technical back-up, marketing        Ireland and Coca-Cola Ire-             said. ‘‘Is there a way of tapping   fer syndicated content across            thing like that up today is dif-
    Its founders, Greg Murphy            that the business will work,’’     Within 24 months, we hope to         and training support.               land.                                  into the Irish experience glob-     its new platform.                        ferent to what it was five to ten
and Roddy Comyn, plan to                 he said.                           have at least 15 shops open              Each franchisee will under-         ‘‘We have recognised that          ally?’’                                 It was recently announced as         years ago. There’s a lot of va-
open up to five franchised out-             ‘‘Ireland has a tremendous      and then, within five to 10          go a three- to five-week train-     journalists are at the heart of           Collins subsequently se-         the overall winner of the ‘Sky is        cant space in Dublin and we
lets within the next two years.          tradition of hard-working, en-     years, reach our target of 53        ing course, run by Omnipro, a       the food chain in media,’’ Col-        cured his first contract with       t h e L i m it’ c o m p e t it i o n ,   would hope to be able to utilise
    The Dublin-based accoun-             trepreneurial small businesses,    shops,’’ Murphy said.                CPD course provider for ac-         lins said. ‘‘This application will     BT Ireland to provide footage       launched in March by Cork                it.
tants have acquired the TaxAs-           with over 83,000 small enter-         If successful, he said the        countants.                          be very simple for journalists to      for its sponsorship of the          companies Waterfront Busi-                   ‘‘Having survived the past
s i st Ac c ou nt ant s m a st e r       prises in the services sector      planned expansion could cre-             Each will start out as a        use. It is developed from short-       Y oung Scientist Exhibition.        ness Centre, RSVP Business,              two years, we are confident
franchise licence for the Re-            and over 50,000 small enter-       ate up to 300 jobs. ‘‘It will cre-   home-based office practice,         comings from existing plat-               ‘‘I approached BTand asked       Roberts Nathan Corporate &               about the future. Our platform
public of Ireland.                       prises in industry.                ate employment in                    progressing to a branded shop-      forms.                                 them had they thought about         Private and Fuzion Communi-              will be an inter nationally
    Murphy believes the service             ‘‘Despite the strength of the   accountancy where there have         front premises within the first         ‘‘Most journalists are not         doing more about this event         cations. The prize included a            traded service. That is a huge
will appeal to cash-strapped             sector, there is a major gap in    been some redundancies of            three years of operation.           techies by trade, but they in-         and making it easier for radio      e30,000 cash prize and the use           source of pride for us.’’

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