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Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Shaping the Future of Digital Health: Key Takeaways from the DkIT Data and Digital Health Conference

3rd July 2024

On 27 June, Connected Health and Wellbeing Cluster at Dundalk Institute of Technology, in collaboration with EIT Health Ireland-UK, brought together experts and stakeholders from various sectors to discuss the future of digital health in Europe, with a focus on the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and the EU AI Act.  

The event ‘Innovative Synergies: Integrating Data and Collaboration in Healthcare’, also supported by InterTrade Ireland and Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland, featured insightful panel discussions, project presentations, case studies, and a keynote address that explored the transformative potential of health data sharing and digital health innovation. 

European Health Data Space 

A panel of experts, including Julia Palma, CeADAR – Ireland’s Centre for Applied AI; Loretto Grogan, HSE; Dr. Frances Burns, Northern Ireland Trusted Research Environment; Dr. Leah Dowdall, Ireland’s Department of Health; and Elaine Murray, EIT Health Ireland-UK discussed: 

  • Cross-Border Data Sharing: The potential impact on patients and clinicians by facilitating seamless health data access across Europe. 
  • Opportunities for Research and Innovation: Unlocking new possibilities for digital health. 
  • Streamlining All-Island Data: Enhancing collaboration and data integration across Ireland and Northern Ireland. 
  • Data Governance and Transparency: Discussion on interoperability standards for AI in healthcare. 

Speakers discussed strategies for enhancing patient outcomes and clinical processes through improved data access and interoperability. They emphasised the need for a new data landscape, transparency around data, stakeholder engagement via public and patient involvement (PPI), and harmonisation of standards. Visualising patient data was also highlighted as important for improving patient-centred care. “Creating a common language around data usage and interoperability is essential. This involves explaining the benefits and standards to patients and stakeholders alike,” shared Dr Frances Burns during the discussion.

Industry Case Studies

Industry case studies from Heart Rhythm Ireland and Screen Clinical showcased successful industry applications of health data. Robert Kelly, CEO of Heart Rhythm Ireland, highlighted leveraging extensive cardiac device data for AI advancements, and enhancing patient care through seamless data collaboration between public and private hospitals. Marie-Therese Connolly from Screen Clinical discussed using patient-level data to improve primary care outcomes, addressing data protection implications, and achieving population health improvements through data insights. 

Discussion on EU AI Act

The panel on Artificial Intelligence discussed the implications of the EU AI Act on health data, emphasising the need for stringent compliance with safety, transparency, and accountability standards. The panel, including Dr. Ceara Treacy, dConnect; Arthur McMahon, STATSports;, Shona D’Arcy, EIT Health Ireland-UK;, and Dr. Roisin Loughran, Regulated Software Research Centre, (DkIT), highlighted interesting applications of AI in creative industries and sports, showcasing its broad impact across various sectors. 

The act supports using AI to analyse large health data volumes for personalised medical treatments while maintaining patient confidentiality. It mandates transparency in AI algorithms, with clear documentation and accountability to protect patient rights and facilitate trust in AI technologies. As Dr. Treacy noted, “Human involvement must be meaningful and substantive,” emphasising that decisions, even when automated, should involve significant human oversight.  

Project Presentations

Several projects were also presented during the event, showcasing the innovative applications of data and technology in healthcare: 

  • Joan Condell from Ulster University discussed the Clear-AI Dementia Care initiative, which aims to revolutionise dementia care through AI-driven insights. 

 

EIT Health Ireland-UK will sponsor the Smart Health Summit on 10 September. Cristina Chiotan, Head of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations, EIT Health will join a panel of experts to discuss Ireland’s strategy for implementing the European Health Data Space. Tickets available.

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