Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-08

Overview

Ireland has a dual healthcare system, consisting of both private and public healthcare options.  The public healthcare system is regulated by the Irish government’s Health Service Executive (HSE).   Ireland’s health budget for 2021 is €21 billion.  This represents an increase of €4 billion on 2020 levels for health services to continue the ongoing COVID-19 action plan and increase long-term capacity.  Budget 2021 provides for the continuation of the extraordinary public health measures and health and social care service supports and capacity introduced in 2020 and aims to build positive permanent change into Irish health service.

There were three hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants in Ireland in 2019.  The hospital beds are distributed across the 48 public hospitals which are organized within seven Hospital Groups and 19 private hospitals.  Despite Ireland’s 25% higher per capita spend on health than the OECD average, the number of beds per 1,000 population is considerably less than the OECD average. 

Before the global health pandemic, public hospitals were working near full capacity with extensive waiting lists.  With the onset of the pandemic, there were particular concerns around the low number of ICU beds available.  In December 2020, the Minister for Health announced a strategic multi-year plan to expand adult critical care capacity from 255 beds to 446 beds. 

There are about 3,000 general practitioners (MDs) in Ireland, working in group practices, primary care centers, single practices and health centers around the country.   The Irish healthcare system maintains a strong affinity with the United States as many of its doctors and consultant specialists are trained at leading U.S. healthcare facilities.  Strong relationships also exist between American and Irish universities and hospitals.

In 2017, a parliamentary Committee on the Future of Healthcare published the Sláintecare Report which outlines a ten-year roadmap to deliver a complete reform of Ireland’s healthcare system to include a universal single-tier health, universal fee GP care and social care system by 2028.  The HSE National Service Plan 2021 sets out the type and volume of health and personal social services to be provided in 2021 with the focus of maximizing the delivery of high-quality health and social care services in a new COVID-19 environment.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Significant sectors include diagnostic equipment, imaging and surgical systems, cancer services, chronic disease management, mental health services, women’s health services, maternity and gynecology services, disability services, eHealth/digital health solutions, telehealth & telemedicine, home & community-based care solutions and assisted-living products, and palliative care services.

Opportunities

By 2040, the population of Ireland is expected to reach 5.7 million people with population health forecast to have decreasing mortality rates and longer life expectancies.  This rapidly growing and ageing population will create an exponential demand for increased healthcare services with a focus on acute hospitals, primary care and geriatric services.   In addition, the global health pandemic has highlighted the importance of developing and adopting digital solutions.  This has resulted in an acceleration in digitalization across the Irish healthcare sector and a rise in the adoption of digital health technologies.

The digital response to the pandemic, particularly for clinical management (rapid diagnosis and risk prediction), has been a significantly successful undertaking across the health services sector.  Innovative digital health solutions in healthcare will continue to be required and are expected to be an essential part of the future Irish health landscape.  Whilst Ireland’s investment in Digital Health is lower than most other EU countries, funding has increased 25 percent to €120m in 2021.   The eHealth and ICT Capital Plan includes further detail on all eHealth and health information systems developments for 2021 and beyond.

Additional capital investment projects and programs along with significant reform initiatives are planned for the health sector as outlined in the Ireland National Development Plan 2018-2027.  These include the construction of new hospitals and additional capacity to existing facilities in areas such as maternity, oncology, mental health, primary and residential care, nursing homes, acute care, rehabilitation and disability.  The government will publish a revised National Development Plan in October 2021.  U.S. Commercial Service Ireland will monitor this plan for new opportunities for American exporters and service providers across the Irish healthcare sector.

Opportunities exist for medical equipment that save time and resources while also effecting cost savings in this price sensitive market.  A new trend is emerging with increased demand for high quality American-made products to counteract cheaper less reliable imports from other nations.  Ireland is also an advocate of preventative medicine focusing on breast, cervical, bowel and diabetic retina screening/checks and opportunities exist for a wide range of equipment across these healthcare disciplines. 

All public sector contracting authorities advertise procurement opportunities and award notices on the eTenders Procurement website, the Irish Government’s electronic tendering platform.  Interested U.S. suppliers should register as a Supplier Company especially as electronic tendering will be a European requirement in the next few years.

Resources


For more information about Ireland’s Healthcare sector, please contact:

Padraig O’Connor

Commercial Advisor

U.S. Commercial Service Ireland

Tel: +353.87.2314726

Email: Padraig.O’Connor@trade.gov