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HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation Competition 2021 now open

Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI), the HSE, the National Health and Social Care Professions Office (HSCP), the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD), and National Doctor Training and Planning (NDTP), have announced the launch of the third HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite Innovation Competition.

This competition is seeking innovative ideas from the 115,000+ HSE employees aiming to improve patient and healthcare outcomes. HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite is open to all disciplines and departments within the HSE, enabling staff to develop their ideas through validation of clinical need and to determine the market for their proposed solution, product, or service.

Successful applicants will benefit from a bespoke healthcare focused innovation workshop delivered by experts, to hone their idea and proceed to pitch for prizes including a €3,000 prize for an individual winner, €3,000 team prize and three runners-up prizes of €1,000, in three regional competitions, followed by a national final for the six regional finalists

Last year’s HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite was a phenomenal success, delivered entirely online in lieu of COVID-19 restrictions. Further information on last years’ winners and the competition itself is available on www.hih.ie.

Welcoming the competition launch this year, Chief Executive of the HSE, Mr Paul Reid, said: “The most innovative ideas come from within the HSE, those who live and work within the healthcare system. It is inspiring to see that even during this pandemic, our staff across the HSE continue to bring forward their ideas for improvement and developing new solutions to the challenges they and their patients are facing.

“I’d like to thank staff for their continued dedication and hard work, and look forward to seeing the entries and winners from this year’s competition and how we can implement these innovations across the healthcare system.”

Dr Tanya Mulcahy, Interim Director, Health Innovation Hub Ireland, encouraged applications, remarking:‘I am always so impressed at the calibre of ideas submitted to this programme, with many former winning ideas now impacting patients. It is the combination of frontline staff ideas and passion coupled with the innovation development expertise of our team that continues to deliver great solutions. If you’ve always wanted to develop your idea- this is the opportunity to do that’

Applications can be submitted via an online portal on www.hih.ie. The call opens on 15 February 2021 and will close on 25 March 2021.

The National Winner of the 2020 Spark Ignite Competition, Ms Marie Ronan, Senior Clinical Pharmacist, Mayo University Hospital, spoke about the competition.

“Rose [Cafferkey] and I are delighted and proud to win this prestigious award for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team and Pharmacy Department at Mayo University Hospital. Being shortlisted for the HIHI Spark Ignite Award was an honour especially with the high calibre of entrants.

“The training workshops provided by Health Innovation Hub Ireland were an excellent learning experience and will benefit us long into our careers. Spark Ignite has given us the confidence and the know how to bring all the elements of our project together and present them in a clear meaningful way. We would strongly encourage anyone with an innovative idea to enter this competition. We are forever grateful to the team at Spark Ignite, for their dedication their drive and their patience.”

A pilot of their solution in Mayo University Hospital demonstrated a €100,000 decrease in spend on antibiotics over a two-year period, a 93 per cent decrease in the use of the most broad spectrum antibiotics, a 45 per cent decrease in the use of IV antibiotics, and a reduction in patient hospital stay from 4.14 days to 3.76. They intend to develop their user-friendly solution for pilot in other hospitals.

Ms Helen Ryan, Senior Medical Scientist, University Hospital Galway and 2020 Regional Winner, Galway, said: “The HIHI Spark Ignite Programme has provided me with invaluable advice and support which has allowed me to pursue my idea in a more focused and meaningful way. It has given innovators like me a platform to engage in the process of interactive learning, avail of expert coaching and mentorship, enhance my leadership skills and allowed me to gain a better appreciation of what is involved in bringing an idea from concept to commercialisation.

“It was also a valuable opportunity to extend my support network and work cross functionally with professionals with very different domain expertise including those working in design, regulatory and finance.”

Ms Ryan aims to create an innovative testing platform to support clinical decision-making and allow for timely obstetric interventions in at-risk pregnancies. She is working with HIHI and Enterprise Ireland to explore the market opportunity and the process of bring her innovative solution towards reality.

Ms Norma Caples, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Registered Nurse Prescriber at University Hospital Waterford and 2020 Regional Winner, Cork, said: “Nurses are natural innovators. We are often faced with challenges on how to provide best care for the patient and therefore we become experts at problem solving. The challenge I found with an idea for a solution, is where or who to go to, to explore if the idea for a solution is worth developing.

“Many great ideas from nurses have been lost to lack of knowing on how to develop or explore these ideas for solutions. I was so excited when I read about the HIHI Spark Ignite competition. I had found a way to have my idea heard by those who had the skills to help me. This platform provides the opportunity for creditable ideas by nurses, health care and allied health professionals, to be developed into much needed solutions. This will improve the healthcare system for the patient, healthcare workers and HSE.

“The competition taught me the skills of how to pitch my idea and move an idea forward, through mentoring provided by HIHI. I will use these invaluable skills throughout my nursing career.”

Ms Caples’s Fluid Tracker App for heart failure patients is now available to download from the Irish Heart Foundation website and is already impacting patients during the current pandemic.

The app records patients’ weights and alerts the user to a significant weight gain, which may be associated with fluid retention, an indication of a health failure event. This allows patients to seek medical attention promptly. There is a potential cost saving to the HSE of €15,000 per heart failure patient per year through early identification of symptoms.

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