Digital Health: Perspectives on Data, Partnerships and Scaling Internationally

Digital Health: Perspectives on Data, Partnerships and Scaling Internationally

by Rachel Shelly, Head of Medical Technologies and Healthcare Services, IDA Ireland

A major challenge for medtech decision makers is selecting a digital strategy for international markets that considers scaling, deployment and the all-important aspect of data, a product’s value driver these days. Should they invest in an internal solution or partner to achieve their goals? This thought-provoking panel discussion hosted by IDA Ireland will feature some deeply knowledgeable insiders who will share their views and help bring clarity to this complex issue.

Panel Members:

  • Moderator: Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of Life Sciences, IDA Ireland:

In his role working closely with U.S. and Canadian biotechnology and medical technology companies, Houlihan helps them plot a successful path that considers business, regulatory, financial, political and technical issues so that they can optimize their desired outcomes. 

  • Shaun Braun, Group Information Officer, MedSurg & Neurotechnology, Stryker:

Achieving successful digital transformation has long been Braun’s focus area, taking into account hardware, software, global supply chains, attracting talent and driving innovation. In addition to his current leadership role at Stryker, he has held leadership positions at PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Oracle.

  • Mick Farrell, CEO, ResMed:

An expert on connected health solutions, Farrell’s track record demonstrates how companies can best utilize technology to improve patient lives. His background includes being a key decision-maker in international markets while achieving success in a data-driven, diagnostic era. He held leadership positions at Arthur D. Little, Genzyme, Dow Chemical and BHP Billiton.

  • John O’Brien, Executive Chairman, S3 Connected Health:

Working with MedTech and Pharma companies to create digital therapy management and connected medical devices and solutions has given O’Brien insights into how best to leverage technology. His track record in business creation, strategy and M&A as well as his strong engineering background help him offer a powerful perspective. 

  • Toby Sainsbury, Ph.D., Technologist, Industrial Technologies Group, IDA Ireland:

As an adviser to global multinational companies, Dr. Sainsbury is focused on plotting innovative digitization strategies that enable manufacturing efficiencies and improved process control. His patents and writings demonstrate a specialty in nanotechnology research and applied materials science and he has worked in R&D across academia, industry and government research institutions. 

Panel perspectives

The digital transformation of health care will ensure that the traditional medical device industry now has a digital strategy at its core. The question of going digital will move from ‘if’ to ‘how’. In an outcomes based market where data will become a product’s value driver, manufacturers inevitably come to a fork in the road: invest in-house or partner? The panel will offer perspectives on both routes while sharing insights on the challenges and potential around scaling internationally, partnerships and data strategies.

Key focus areas:

Build vs. buy

A fundamental issue in fast-growing tech businesses – build vs. buy – is also a reality in medtech, where business leaders must decide to focus on internal development, growing and scaling digital offerings through partnerships, or a combination of both. The panel will discuss the merits of each option and their perspectives on partnering versus investing in-house for digital health.

There are advantages to the build-your-own approach but this route places medtech companies in the competitive realm of hiring those highly sought-after software developers and engineers that all great companies are seeking today. Medtech companies with international operations are finding that hiring tech personnel in overseas locations opens access to an entirely new pool of talent. Europe, and Ireland, have been a proven source of rich talent in this regard. Prioritizing digital investments, tapping into the global talent pool, building future skills and handling the rapidly changing recruitment playbook are critical decisions our panelists will discuss.

Intelligent partnering

Successful nations have established powerful ecosystems with positive regulatory environment, government funding, research centers and training programs that encourage medtech companies to establish, expand their solutions as well as collaborate on new products.  Collaboration and intelligent partnerships are attractive routes to speed up time to market, scaling quickly and managing costs. The evolving convergence and collaborations between traditional and non-traditional players are clearly driving the next wave of innovation in life sciences. 

Top of mind for medtech companies is the presence of tech firms taking a strong position in digital health, just as they are doing in other data-driven industries. Consider the disruption of advanced technology on other established sectors – Airbnb, Uber and Lyft being prime examples. The move into health care by large tech companies such as Google/Verily, Amazon and others creates an opportunity for the medtech industry to leverage infrastructure and capacity at a phenomenal scale, opening major opportunities in diagnostics, disease management, remote patient monitoring, clinical trials management and patient care. The entire patient experience is being transformed through AI, connectivity and mobility technology.

The right destination, supports, skills and networks are critical to make innovation between businesses and key stakeholders happen. The panel will discuss the changing nature of collaboration and opportunities to drive that innovation, enabling scaling and deployment internationally.


In all digital health discussions, the issue of data is critical. Data integration, interoperability, ownership of data, security, access, mobility and privacy are vital concerns for all players accessing, collecting, storing or analyzing patient information.  

Medtech companies, as careful custodians of that patient data, understand the importance of putting patients first and protecting their data. Those who want to scale digital health solutions internationally are acutely aware of the need for synergy and alignment with international rules around data protection (e.g. GDPR), the evolving needs and role of payers, as well as other regulatory concerns.   

The panelists will discuss their data approach and their perspectives on data policy and protection in this complex and dynamic area.

You’re invited to attend this informative panel discussion to hear about the key issues regarding digital health innovation and internationalization decisions for medtech, taking place at The MedTech Conference on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. in room 157 B.

About the author:

Rachel Shelly is the Head of Medical Technologies and Healthcare Services at IDA Ireland, the Irish Government agency responsible for inward investment into the country. Ireland is one of Europe’s largest medtech hot spots and, as a globally recognized center of excellence, is home to 300+ companies, employing 32,000 people. For more information, please visit or contact Rachel at [email protected]