David Neville, CEO Future Health Summit & Investnet

As the Covid-19 public health emergency enters what might be its most critical phase so far it is nearing time to consider how the learning emerging from it can best be gathered, assessed, discussed and acted on.

The Future Health Summit annually showcases healthcare innovation and celebrates the sharing of international best practice. This international cooperation and goodwill to fast track innovation has never been so evident as it has been in the past few weeks. This has the potential to be the most positive enduring legacy of the crises.

Thankfully, the public has been compliant following government guidelines and the HSE under the stalwart direction of Paul Reid has never had so much public support, also the various companies and individuals who have donated both capital and resources to help has been overwhelming.

In technology terms we have seen an incredible response from a range of companies researching rapid diagnostics tests, Lets Get Checked, Bosch to name but a few to a virus killing robot developed by TCD.  Telemedicine has never been more relevant and companies like Wellola, Nua Solutions and PatientMpower have come into their own – necessity is the mother of invention

The interesting thing is that most of these are being done on a collaborative basis. The trojan work being undertaken by various university hub spin offs that are developing testing kits or generic reagents.

The race to find a vaccine by the pharma companies is unprecedented in the history of vaccination as it normally takes years to find a solution whilst they are aiming for a year to 18 months to develop one.

Not only are they utilising their own resources there is now worldwide cooperation and information sharing across the sector. For example, Pfizer has signed a deal with Germanys BioNtech to co-deliver a potential vaccine. All these efforts are being backed by the support of non-profits, government agencies and the regulatory authorities. Novartis are set to begin human trials in mid-May whilst Moderna, Inovio and Johnson & Johnson are all pouring resources into the race.

Gilead are also working on their highly anticipated Covid-19 treatment, Remdesivir. Outcomes from trials should be known in May.

Sanofi are collaborating with Silicon Valley start-up Luminostics to develop a smart phone linked 30-minute Covid-19 test

Nobody wants to be found asking what did you do…? when we look back at this period in our history

The Future

When, hopefully we enter a post Covid-19 era the old order of the healthcare landscape will have changed utterly and cannot revert to what it was in terms of service delivery in the past. Lessons will have been learned.

The private system for its part is now leveraged to enable the public system rather than the inverse.

Will Slaintecare be revisited as a viable option? As one thing the crises has shown is that we are now providing care on a need rather that the ability to pay. What are the implications of this?

Are we at the end of hospital centred healthcare? Have we entered an era of greater personal responsibility with an emphasis on primary care and care in the community?

International collaboration and sharing best practice in healthcare will ultimately be to the benefit of all. No doubt there will be political fallout from this crisis and there will be the inevitable international comparisons between government leadership and response strategies.  I believe the response of the Irish nation on all levels has been exemplary and I’ve no doubt will hold up to scrutiny.

Either way we look forward to your input at The Future Health Summit on the 23rd-24th September in the RDS, Dublin to discuss ‘The Future of our Health’.   This years Summit may be the most important and revealing in its 19-year history yet, as the broader health industry gears back up to a new era…