Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

EIT Health Summit: Putting the sustainability of healthcare systems in focus

7th June 2022

The EIT Health Summit 2022 successfully concluded at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden last month. This two-day event brought together healthcare professionals, experts, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators from all over Europe to envision what the future of healthcare will look like. Experts agreed that we need to have a coordinated approach for strengthening European health systems to become more sustainable. They placed an emphasis on human-centered innovation as we move towards delocalized, patient-centered healthcare.

If there is anything we must learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a fundamental change in the way we look at and assess the value of healthcare innovation. Several thought-leaders at the EIT Health Summit reiterated how it is time to see healthcare and innovation as strategic national assets that should be encouraged to invest in. This will in turn ensure greater sustainability in our health systems.

Talking about investing in healthcare and innovation, Marlene Gyldmark – Global Head of Outcomes Research at Roche suggested,

“The world needs innovation in all aspects of healthcare. We have a shared responsibility to enable resilient and sustainable healthcare systems and an innovative Pharma and MedTech industry.”

Jessica Mahoney, Policy Analyst at OECD, added to the call for greater government investment by commenting,

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed how health interacts with economic, social, and relational outcomes, and emphasized the importance of whole-of-government approaches to improving public health moving forward.”

Changes that were implemented during the pandemic such as telehealth and greater reliance on data to make evidence-based decisions in healthcare are here to stay, with speakers from across these spheres contributing to the discussion. Here are some examples of this innovation in action from Ireland-UK start-ups that presented during the Summit.

Wellola: Sustainable patient communication

Wellola offers offers hospitals and GPs secure telehealth and patient portal platforms as healthcare moves from clinical settings to the home, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. Sonia Neary, CEO & Co-Founder of Wellola, presented on day 2 of the Summit. She explained that,

“44% of patients used new devices or apps to help manage conditions remotely during COVID-19. Now 60% of patients want to use technology more for communicating with healthcare service providers.”

Sonia indicated that the Wellola solution has potential to save up to 52% on costs, increasing efficiencies of medical appointments, and leaving more time for patients with a greater need to be treated in-person in a clinical setting.

BioXplor: Maximizing efficiencies in early-stage drug discovery

BioXplor, recently accepted to EIT Health’s business accelerator program Wild Card, is on a mission to improve the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through the prevention and cure of cancer. BioXplor has developed a platform that prioritizes targets, drugs, and patients, based on safety and efficacy insights when applied to early-stage drug discovery and clinical trials studies for cancer patients. The platform generates real-world world evidence to save on time and resources for clinicians and researchers.

Anna O’Leary, CEO & Co-Founder of BioXplor, presented the company’s solution during the Summit. She indicated that the start-up is right on track to achieve its near-term goals,

“BioXplor’s top 4 out of 5 recommendations via systematic indication expansion were validated via progression to 5 new clinical trials at Phase 2 and 3.”

Other Ireland-UK start-ups that impressed the Summit audience with their human-centred healthcare innovations included:

  • SolasCure, which has developed a treatment for chronic wounds
  • Luminate Medical, which is building devices to end cancer treatment side effects such as hair loss
  • Brightlobe, which has developed a digital health app to intelligently assess children’s neurodevelopment

SolasCure went on the win the Biotech category at the Catapult finals, during the Summit while Luminate Medical won the Alex Casta Audience award, and came second in the MedTech category. Brightlobe came second in the digital health category.

Over the two-day Summit, many speakers recognized that the transition to greater sustainability will not be easy. It is a systematic transformation, and one which requires great investment in innovation. Jean-Marc Bourez, Interim CEO and Managing Director at EIT Health France summarized this argument during the closing keynote,

“Robust and resilient health systems do not represent a cost. On the contrary, they are a long-term investment and a requirement of solidarity and prosperity. To tackle the upcoming healthcare challenges and to ensure the sustainability of healthcare systems, it is time to join forces between the EU Member States and EU instruments.”

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