Len Marshall, PhD, Head of Healthcare Development, Roche Diagnostics Ireland

Len leads the Healthcare Development team at Roche Ireland, where the focus is on shaping healthcare through innovation and partnership with the healthcare systems in Ireland and across Europe. He has a particular interest in the developing areas of cancer medicines in Ireland, where Companion Diagnostics & Next Generation Sequencing platforms are used to assess a patient’s suitability for such effective therapeutics and successfully monitor cancer patients’ progression via routine samples.

Healthcare demands are increasing, not just in Ireland, but across the world. With an ageing population and increases in chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, the cost of healthcare is increasing, and the need for early intervention has never been more important. Many of these illnesses – often the result of lifestyle – are preventable or manageable if detected early.

Community pharmacists have long since advocated the role they can play in chronic disease management. They have called for a collaborative approach between community pharmacists, general practitioners and practice nurses. The clinical benefits of pharmacy involvement in chronic disease management are compelling.

For example, The IPU has previously indicated that  more than €1.36 billion could be saved by the State across 30 years if a pharmacy based blood pressure management service was rolled out. This would avoid about 70,000 cardiovascular events.

Providing digital therapeutic solutions

RediCare, an Irish healthcare company based in Cork, has developed a digital therapeutic (DTx) in order to tackle chronic disease. Their mission is to reduce the global diabesity syndemic using DTx. Once on the therapeutic, each patient can embark on a journey to improve their health, using lifestyle therapy. All major medical associations recommend lifestyle therapy as first-line treatment for chronic disease. The Redicare control DTx can be prescribed by primary care physicians and accessed by patients via pharmacies.

The patient’s progress on Redicare control DTx is monitored using the Roche cobas 101 instrument, which is a CE marked device which can measure lipid panel and HbA1c  in capillary blood. The system is fully diabetes guidelines compliant (IFCC/DCCT) and delivers fast, safe and reliable results and is intended for use in point-of-care locations, such as pharmacies.

This is also a growing concern for healthcare systems, which could potentially be overburdened by the issues that can arise as a result of chronic diseases. As the global pandemic continues, many are still choosing to avoid healthcare settings – and there is a growing fear that the long-term consequences could become a significant challenge to the Irish healthcare system.

In Ireland, the healthcare system is facing these issues and moving towards a primary care focused care delivery system with Sláintecare and recent announcements of improved access to diagnostics for GPs and the Covid-19 immunisation programme involving GPs and pharmacists.

Improving the future

The past year has driven certain health innovations exponentially, such as telemedicine, as the access barrier caused by Covid-19 meant that many people sought to interact with healthcare services from the safety of their homes. However, with an ageing population and the increased burden on the healthcare systems as a result of chronic conditions, much more investment is needed to ensure sustainable systems are put in place to safeguard against future disease and futureproof the Irish healthcare system.

Ireland is home to several successful healthcare-focused start-ups, which have the potential to drive innovation in this space. Roche is continuously seeking solutions in Ireland and beyond, which will help to both strengthen its footprint in the digital health market and to actively shape patient care of tomorrow. Through careful collaboration and investment, the healthcare system can better tackle disease and other challenges to ultimately become more innovative, robust and sustainable.

At Roche we are dedicated to improving patients’ lives and healthcare service delivery. Through our continuing investment into innovation and technology partnerships, we have positively impacted the global Covid-19 pandemic strategy. We are actively seeking new approaches to disease management, both in primary and secondary care, to ensure Ireland remains a world-class health service for its patients and society. The impact of the pandemic in Ireland has demonstrated the value that primary care can play in reducing the burden on secondary care to patients in their own community.

Commitment to healthcare innovation

To help drive the important work of prevention and early intervention, RediCare has recently completed their participation in batch 5 of the Startup Creasphere. This is a 12-week programme with specific goals to help develop the Redicare Control DTx. Startup Creasphere is a health innovation-focused accelerator founded in Germany.

The global programme selects and empowers innovative healthtech companies that hold immense potential to transform the current global healthcare system. Powered by Plug and Play, a leading global innovation platform and Roche, Startup Creasphere provides state-of-the-art infrastructure, bespoke programmes and global networks to accelerate the success of promising health tech start-ups from around the world.

Healthcare start-ups are an ever-growing part of the healthcare system, and are fundamental in bringing accessible, innovative solutions to patients. As a healthcare solutions provider, we at Roche are committed to the development of innovative healthcare solutions, with the ultimate aim of bringing more benefit to patients at a sustainable cost to society.

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