Medtech, AKA Digital Health, has been the subject of much debate in Jersey in recent times, with all members of a diverse medical community spanning public, private and voluntary sectors, airing their opinions on what the future of health in the Island should look like. Up until this point there has been little consensus however on how Jersey, as an independent health eco-system, should move forward.
What everyone does agrees on is that Digital Health is the fastest growing sector of the world economy (set to be worth an estimated £181 billion by 2020) and that with an ageing population and limited financial resources, it makes complete sense for Jersey to embrace technology and take advantage of the potential efficiencies, improvements to patient healthcare and commercial opportunities which would be afforded.
With Digital Jersey having taken a back seat in the whole debate up until 2016, when it was identified as one of three key strategic focuses as part of the KPMG report, it has been a challenge to move down the auditorium and raise our voice above the crowd. In doing so, we have aimed to bring some accord to the various disparate sectors and convince them that Digital Jersey can be the vehicle through which to bring people together and develop a holistic approach to embracing digital opportunities in the healthcare space.
Digital Jersey has taken a two-pronged approach to its involvement, firstly at a micro-level we have endeavoured to engage all sectors of healthcare in the conversation and develop working groups with the objective of creating tangible digital solutions to genuine problem statements using local tech talent. The thinking behind this is to demonstrate that Jersey has the resources and capability to collaborate and create home-grown solutions, but also to showcase to the rest of the world that the Island could be a fantastic testbed for medical and technology corporations which may be looking to conduct clinical trials or launch products in a controlled fashion.
In addition to progress made by the working group collaborations, in the background we have also been working with the key stakeholders across primary, secondary & community care and have established a steering group to oversee the projects, but more importantly to start discussions regarding the development of a Digital Health strategy and vision for the whole healthcare system – something which to date has sadly been lacking.
Although Jersey boasts some well documented natural attributes i.e. 100,000 population with typical western demographics, local self-contained medical system, well connected citizens (physical & virtual) and the advent of a much heralded new hospital, without a common goal the Island will not only struggle to unite to deliver a first class health system for its residents, but also fail to convince potential partners and investors to come to the party.
There is currently a groundswell of enthusiasm and an eagerness across the board to work with Digital Jersey to use this window of opportunity to move things forward. This is perfectly encapsulated by the incorporation of medtech.je (a group of entrepreneurs and commercial companies which was established to represent and showcase Digital Health talent) into Digital Jersey, signposting their confidence in the organisation to bring the industry together and drive the Digital Health agenda forward.
Digital Jersey has also started to build relationships and generate interest from outside the Island having met with the likes of Apple, Intersystems, Fujitsu, Samsung and EMIS, all of whom are eager to partner with us if we can engage on the right propositions. However, Jersey has always been ‘a good first date’ for these flagship multi-nationals and the trick will be moving some of these relationships to at least second base!
All that said, with the commitment and momentum that we are currently experiencing through Digital Jersey, the prospect of an integrated digital health strategy and a new hospital in the offing, the Island is in a fantastic position to build something unique and aspirational that will benefit the entire population whilst helping to diversify the economy