Ireland - Country Commercial Guide

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

Last published date: 2022-11-30


Ireland has a dual healthcare system, consisting of both private and public healthcare options.  The public healthcare system in Ireland is regulated by one government department, the Health Service Executive (HSE).   Ireland’s health budget for 2022 is €21 billion.  Addressing the significant backlog in waiting lists in acute hospitals and community waiting lists are a top priority for the Irish healthcare sector in 2022. Women’s healthcare, providing free contraception, as well as strengthening the multitude of supports and services for people with disabilities are also areas of priority for the Irish government in 2022.  

People in Ireland lead longer and healthier lives than most other Europeans, although behavioral risk factors, including smoking and obesity, remain important public health concerns.  Quality of health care is generally good, but access to services is constrained by costs and waiting times.  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 in the different care 

The Irish hospital system contains a mix of public and private hospitals, with public hospitals treating both public and private patients.  On admittance to a public hospital, patients make a choice to be treated on a public or private basis by their consultant.  There are 48 public hospitals in Ireland which are organized within seven hospital groups and there are 21 private hospitals affiliated with the Private Hospital Association (PHA).  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 2021.  Total expenditure on health as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) in Ireland amounted to just 7.2% percent in 2020, a slight increase of 6.7% in 2019 but still below the EU average of 9.9%.   

In May 2021 the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy and Action Plan 2021—2023 was approved by the Irish government and sets out the priorities and actions to abolish the country’s two-tier health system, replacing it instead with a universal health care model such as 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.  

The professional body for GPs in Ireland, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), estimates that 3,496 GPs are actively practicing in Ireland, both in general practices and out-of-hours facilities, with 25% of these working on a part-time basis. 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. 

Leading Subsectors 

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.  



Use of teleconsultations during the first wave of the pandemic aimed to improve access, and uptake was greater than the EU average.  Surveillance of COVID-19 cases in Ireland was integrated into a new national computerized infectious disease reporting system. Telemedicine services were increased, including the launch of a new secure communication portal (EireCare) by the HSE, linking GPs and other primary care providers with patients. In addition, as part of an emergency amendment to the Medicinal Products Regulation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-prescribing became universal in the early weeks of the pandemic.  In 2021, the Irish government committed 75 million euro to investments in e-health (digitalisation of hospital management information systems and e-pharmacy) as part of the National Recovery and Resilience plan. The global digital health market is expected to grow almost 200% in the next three years as EU consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to accessing digital health products using their smartphones and other connected devices 

Capital Investment 

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.  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. 

Medical Devices and Regulation 

Opportunities exist high-quality American-made products for medical equipment that save time and resources while also effecting cost savings in this price sensitive market.  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 U.S. companies that plan to export to the EU must comply with the new EU MDR regulation that came into place in May 2021. The EU MDR is the set of regulations that governs the production and distribution of medical devices in Europe. 


Department of Health -  

Health Service Executive (HSE) -  

eHealth Ireland - 

Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) - 

HealthTech Ireland -  

Private Hospitals Association -   

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