Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
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Ireland has a dual healthcare system, consisting of both private and public healthcare options.  The public healthcare system in Ireland is regulated by the Department of Health while the Health Service Executive (HSE) has operational responsibility.  Ireland’s health budget for 2023 is €23.4 billion.  This is the highest allocation of funding to the healthcare service in the history of the state and is an increase of over €2 billion on 2022.

The Irish healthcare system maintains a strong affinity with the United States as many of its medical physicians and consultant specialists have trained at leading U.S. healthcare facilities.  Strong relationships also exist between American and Irish universities and hospitals.

People in Ireland lead longer and healthier lives than most other Europeans.  The life expectancy for Ireland in 2022 was 82.66 years, a 0.18% increase from 2021.  The quality of health care is generally good, but access to services is constrained by costs and waiting times.  Preliminary estimates for 2022 show that healthcare expenditure was approximately €30.5 billion, an increase of 6.6% compared to 2021.  Total expenditure on health as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) in Ireland amounted to just 6.1% percent in 2022, a decrease from 6.7% in 2021 and still below the EU average of 9.9%. 

In the 2023 Healthcare Budget, providing free General Practitioner/GP  (Medical Doctor/MD) care to almost half of the population, (approximately 2.5 million people), was a top priority in response to the high cost-of-living crisis in Ireland.  Women’s healthcare, providing free contraception, and, for the first time, the provision of IVF services, as well as strengthening the multitude of supports and services for the elderly and people with disabilities are areas of priority for the Irish government.  The HSE’s 2023 National Service Plan prioritizes shorter waiting times and waiting lists to achieve the government’s goal of reducing emergency department congestion in hospitals.

Healthcare services in Ireland are usually categorized by acute care, primary care, continuing care, and community care services - such as disabilities, mental health, social inclusion and children and family welfare services.  The delivery system is mixed with a range of public, voluntary, and private providers.  The Irish hospital system comprises of a mix of public and private hospitals, with public hospitals treating both public and private patients.  There are 86 hospitals in Ireland, 78% of which are publicly administered hospitals.  On admittance to a public hospital, patients make a choice to be treated on a public or private basis by their consultant.  Private hospitals provide a range of diagnostic services, day case, inpatient and other associated acute hospital services.  There were three hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants in Ireland in 2022.

In May 2021, the Irish government set out to create a universally accessible healthcare system (Sláintecare) by removing private healthcare from public hospitals and abolishing the country’s two-tier health system, replacing it with a universal health care model similar to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).  Sláintecare’s goals are to improve the experience of patients/service users, improve the experience of clinicians, lower healthcare costs and achieve better healthcare outcomes.  Since the start of the program, in-patient charges for children under 16 years have been abolished, waiting times have been reduced and over 2,400 healthcare workers have been recruited.

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.


Ireland is a gateway to Europe for many first-time exporters.  Ease of doing business, a connected business ecosystem and English speaking provide a good opportunity for U.S. companies who are exporting to Europe for the first time.

Medical Devices

The best approach to winning sales in the market is to sell via a distributor, and generally, access into the health system can be quick as the Irish. Opportunities exist for high quality American-made medical equipment that saves time and resources while also effecting cost savings in this price sensitive market.  Ireland is 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 U.S. companies that plan to export to the EU must comply and keep up to date with EU regulation.  For medical devices a new EU MDR regulation came into place in May 2021.  The regulations govern the production and distribution of medical devices in Europe.  These new regulatory constraints will see companies that are already selling in the E.U., pulling some of their products from the market as they struggle to adapt this new regulation on all their products.  As products are being pulled from the shelves, there could be an opportunity for U.S. companies who are MDR compliant to fill these gaps.  For further information on regulations and processes, please engage with our commercial service offices in Europe.

Public Tenders

Capital investment projects and national programs along with significant reform initiatives are planned for the health sector as outlined in the Ireland National Development Plan 2018-2027.  .  U.S. Commercial Service Ireland will monitor this plan for new opportunities for American exporters and service providers across the Irish healthcare sector.  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.

Digital Health

In 2023, a telehealth steering group was established and the Department of Health, in collaboration with the HSE are currently developing the digital health framework (2023-2030). Both the public and private sector are keen to see the introduction of electronic patient records across the healthcare system. The pandemic brought about a rapid introduction of digital health services including telemedicine services and e-prescribing. A cyber-attack to the national health system in May 2021, promoted the government to invest in cyber resilience.

The global digital health market is expected to grow almost 200% in the next three years and as the EU puts increasing pressure on member states to become more digitally reliant, opportunities exist for American companies to demonstrate to countries like Ireland the best in U.S. digital innovation.


Department of Health –

Health Service Executive (HSE) –

eHealth Ireland –

Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) -

HealthTech Ireland -

eTenders Ireland -


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

Julianne O’Leary

Commercial Advisor

U.S. Commercial Service Ireland

Tel: +353-1-237-5862