Smart healthcare 'will save hospitals €1m every month'
A revolutionary 'smart' pass system is set to offer billions of euro in savings for Irish healthcare.
The new system will eliminate all paperwork from hospitals, clinics and GP practices and offer patients the ability to instantly access their own health records via an app on their smartphone or tablet.
It will also allow patients to have their full medical records available at the touch of a button when they are overseas.
The system - being developed between the Mater Private Hospital Group, Apple and software firm JM Medical - is estimated to offer savings of €1m per month for an average 100-bed acute hospital.
It is expected the system will cost between €1m and €2m to implement at such a hospital. However, it would pay for itself within two to three months.
The system will also harness high-tech lifestyle devices such as smartwatches to allow doctors to conduct regular checks on patients' heart rate and exercise levels when they are not in the hospital.
It is so advanced that it will detect, via a patient's smart-phone, when they arrive at a hospital or clinic for an appointment - and will be able to offer real-time updates on how soon they will be treated.
However, the greatest advantage is that it eliminates paperwork, bureaucratic delays and time wasted on waiting for key patient records.
"It offers a seamless system for the entire healthcare system from beginning to end," said Mater Hospital Cork chief operating officer John Mulhern.
The system was outlined as Tanaiste Simon Coveney opened the Mater's new €2m orthopaedic unit in Cork.
Mr Coveney said such technology and capital investment will be utilised under the Government's ambitious Slainte healthcare strategy.
"We have an implementation plan which will be a new model of healthcare that we want to create over time," he said.
Mr Coveney said private facilities like the Mater Group will play "a very significant role".
"This is all about complete, open disclosure - transparency. The patient will see their own, full treatment record," said Mr Mulhern.
"For an average 100-bed hospital, it [offers] €1m in savings per month across administration, salaries etc."