Medinireland Makes Its Mark

October 30, 2011 – 2:23 am

“I can remember coming here and counting noses,” Richard Satava, MD, told medinireland 2011 attendees. “Now, this is progress,” he added, scanning a crowd of several hundred people.

Organised every other year by Enterprise Ireland, medinireland brings together medtech stakeholders from around the world with Ireland-based companies in a spirit of global partnering and collaboration, to cite Dr. Brian O’Neill, Manager Lifesciences, Enterprise Ireland. The event was held on 27 October at the new Convention Centre Dublin, a suitably stunning high-tech venue to showcase the country’s vibrant medical technology ecosystem.

A professor of surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center and Senior Science Advisor at US Army Medical Research, Satava was one of three speakers from the United States lined up to kick off the event. If there was a common theme to the presentations, it is the wrenching change affecting the delivery of healthcare in the developed world. The change agents may be jaw-dropping technologies, described in vivid detail by Satava, such as a brain-machine interface that allows a quadriplegic to move the fingers of a prosthetic hand simply by thinking it or squadrons of nanobots patrolling arteries and repairing anomalies. More prosaically (and more often), change might come as a result of pressure placed on reimbursement systems, said James M. Sweeney, Chairman and CEO of PatientSafe Solutions, a company dedicated to the  development of tools that will allow patients to stay out of the hospital. Change as the new normal was the overarching message of the opening speeches, echoing much of what I heard at Eucomed Forum in October.

The opening addresses were followed by the presentation of the first Clinical Innovation Award on behalf of Enterprise Ireland and the Cleveland Clinic, a high-profile partner at this year’s event. Niall Davis, a surgeon in Limerick, was awarded the top honour for the invention of a technique for safely and correctly positioning urinary catheters in patients. The technology is simple and inexpensive, Davis told medtechinsider, and it solves a complication that affects roughly 12% of patients. The device is currently at the prototype stage.

The Clinical Innovation Awards will be an annual programme open to clinicians in Ireland. To be entered, the device must be technologically innovative and be deemed to have commercial potential.

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