HomeNewsRedefining the role of hospitals and innovating in population health

Redefining the role of hospitals and innovating in population health

Redefining the role of hospitals in present day societies and innovation in population health will be the main topics to be debated at the 27th congress of the EAHM (European Association of Hospital Managers) in Cascais, Portugal, on September 26 – 28 next, writes Lorcan Birthistle, CEO of St. James’s Hospital, Dublin.

Lorcan Birthistle
Lorcan Birthistle


Gerry O’Dwyer
Gerry O’Dwyer

The theme recognises the common challenge faced across Europe in developing positive links between acute hospitals and healthcare in the community. Speakers from Europe and North America will present and delegates from as far afield as China will attend.

As a member of the EAHM Scientific Committee I have seen the congress programme develop over the past year from a focused idea to a fully developed programme involving international speakers and round table discussions addressing a wide range of issues relevant to the overall theme. The energy and commitment demonstrated by our Portuguese colleagues in order to present such a heavyweight schedule has been very impressive.

In developing the congress programme, the challenges that will be familiar to everyone involved in healthcare have been summarised as:

  • The demographic changes – more people, living longer with chronic conditions and multiple co-morbidities;
  • The rising expectations of patients, the population and the politicians;
  • The increasing regulation and standards in quality and safety;
  • The rapid innovation cycle in drugs and therapeutics solutions and the consequent economic impact;
  • The need to move from service-delivery models to integrated healthcare systems;
  • The focus on outcomes and value that improve the health results of the population;
  • The empowerment of individuals to value their health and manage their own care.

In response, the congress will focus on the following potential responses and solutions:

  • The development of People Centredness Systems based on the needs and satisfaction of the individuals;
  • The identification and effective implementation of models, solutions, methodologies and processes of vertical and horizontal Integration of care;
  • The challenges on implementation of Innovative provision models that assure new health care solutions based on new technologies opportunities: digital era, diagnosis, therapy, communication, big data, artificial intelligence, etc.
  • The need to adopt new funding and management solutions that can ensure financial sustainability;
  • The need to develop solutions based on population health dynamics that assure responses to their needs.

In the context of Brexit and the potential of Slaintecare it has never been more important that we continue to develop strong and sustainable relationships with our healthcare colleagues from across Europe. The congress presents an outstanding opportunity to meet these colleagues to discuss common challenges and learn from each other about what responses do and do not work in different countries. There will be a strong Irish engagement in the congress at speaker and delegate level and of course, our colleague Gerry O’Dwyer will be presiding over the congress as President of the EAHM.

The opportunity of the 27th EAHM congress is best summarised by our friend Alexandre Lourenço President of Portuguese Association of Hospital Managers (APAH)
‘More than ever, the healthcare system needs hospitals as beacons towards the future. Hence, hospital managers leadership is more than crucial. From the 26 to the 28 September 2018, we challenge you to discuss and to debate hospitals delivery model and to commonly redefine the role of hospitals, not only as an industry but also as public health agents. We welcome you to the westernmost point of mainland Europe, to discover new routes for our collective future’.