One of most innovative and influential CIOs in Ireland

David Wall, Director of ICT at Tallaght Hospital Dublin has been recognised as one of the 100 most innovative and influential Chief Information Officers in Ireland. Maureen Browne reports.

David Wall
David Wall

At an event in Dublin earlier this month, Business & Finance announced that it had included David in its inaugural 2017 index of the 100 most innovative and influential Chief Information Officers in Ireland.

“I feel very privileged to be named by B&F in its inaugural index.  It’s a great honour to be recognised for a job you enjoy doing.  But it’s not just about me.  This is also recognition for the dedicated and hardworking ICT team here in Tallaght Hospital.

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“When I was interviewed for this position, I compared Tallaght to a sleeping giant.  When the Hospital first opened 19 years ago it was one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country.  However over the years for a variety of reasons, the hospital was overtaken and did not keep pace with e-health developments.  So my objective is simple ‘Wake the Giant!’”

I regard myself as a Business Manager with IT skills as opposed to an IT Manager with business skills, giving me the perspective from both sides

Mr. Wall says it has been an exciting and challenging time since he joined Tallaght Hospital almost two years ago. “When I started I identified three main priorities.  First was a plan for restructuring, investing and developing of the ICT department in Tallaght so to ensure ICT was operationally efficient and as a team positioned to enable and support the hospital’s strategic objectives. The second priority was raising the profile of ICT and e-Health internally within Tallaght Hospital and externally.  In 2016 the Hospital took its first ever e-health exhibition stand in the Trinity Science Gallery, this year they exhibited at the International Conference on Integrated Care held in UCD showcasing the e-health innovations in Tallaght Hospital.  The third priority is developing our digital roadmap for the future.” Tallaght in the process of finalising its digital roadmap.  Once completed the hospital will embark on the next phase of its e-Health journey, ensuring ICT continues to support and enable patient care into the future.”

David Wall is not from a traditional ICT background, which he says has been of enormous benefit to him in his work. “I’ve held a number of roles both in administration and ICT – in the National Maternity Hospital and St. Vincent’s University Hospital, before deciding on ICT as a career.   Other ICT roles have included Temple St. Children’s University Hospital and the Children’s Hospital Group.  He believes this has provided him with knowledge and experience in a variety of hospital settings, acute, maternity, paediatric and adult.  I regard myself as a Business Manager with IT skills as opposed to an IT Manager with business skills, giving me the perspective from both sides.”

Healthcare has to change, the future patient population (the Millennials) have grown up in a digital world

Similarly his education has a combination of primary degree in ICT and Masters in Healthcare Management.  While working fulltime these were completed at night.  “In order for ICT to support and enable the business, it’s important that as an ICT professional I have a full understanding all areas of healthcare”.  He has since completed a Diploma in Strategy Innovation & Change from the Michael Smurfit Business School.

Asked about his future plans, he says it’s an exciting time in Tallaght Hospital.    “The Hospital continues to work closely with Richard Corbridge the HSE CIO, there are a number of national eHealth initiatives being rolled out  to the Hospital  over the next two to three years and the construction of the Urgent Care Centre as part of the New Children’s Hospital.  In house, ICT will be supporting and enabling the hospital’s recently launched Clinical Services Strategy.

“The hospital also has a number of exciting projects underway in the areas of cardiology and digital patient engagement.  We’re engaging with our community partners, in particular GPs and Community Mental Health staff to examine how ICT can better support and integrate services.  And we are also looking across our hospital groups to see how ICT can support service delivery.  Tallaght is unique in that it is part of two hospital groups, the Children Hospitals Group and the Dublin Midland Hospital Group.  So no downtime I’m afraid.”

Commenting on the need for innovation in healthcare, Mr Wall says that Tallaght hospital has a proven track record in eHealth innovation, two of which came on stream in the last 12 months. “Our virtual care solution (Lucy)  allows consultants to provide ‘virtual care’ when not on site.  The other is mobile telemetry over Wi-Fi.  Previously patients requiring telemetry monitoring could only be placed in specific beds often leading to  delays in their admission from A&E.  Now patients can be admitted to any available bed space within the hospital and be remotely monitored, which has freed up resources in A&E and decreased admission waiting times.  However we have only scratched the surface of what is possible with eHealth. The potential of what we can achieve is limitless.

“ICT can become the catalyst for the next phase of innovation in healthcare.  We cannot afford to ignore or underplay the impact of technology-driven developments that are even transforming what it means to be a clinical business in a digital world.   Look at banking, retail and airlines industries.  Healthcare has to change, the future patient population (the Millennials) have grown up in a digital world. They expect to interact with their health service digitally and we have to be ready.  We can learn the lessons from other countries, but to achieve our goals, sustained investment in e-Health nationally and locally is critical if we are to ready for the future.

Another area he is passionate about is the ongoing professional development of ICT staff in healthcare.   As a member of the Health Informatics Society of Ireland (HISI) Executive, he jointly established the HISI ICT Leaders forum with fellow HIS Executive, Neil O’Hare Director of Health Informatics at St. James www.hisi.ie/leaders. One of its objectives is to create a forum to support and develop existing and future ICT leaders in eHealth.  “The first year has been great but we have a lot more to do.”

He is also a member of the European Association of Health Managers (EAHM) ICT sub-committee and Prorec Ireland.