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Digital healthcare can create economic opportunities

01 October 2010

Healthcare professionals, researchers, technical experts and business people from across the country have gathered to discuss the latest developments in telehealthcare at a national conference held at Eden Court in Inverness today (Friday October 1).

Organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the P4 Digital Healthcare Convention is focusing on the innovative use of modern technology to promote health and prevent illness.

Life sciences research and commercialisation will play an important role in growing the economy of the Highlands and Islands, according to the man in charge of the region's enterprise agency.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said the agency had already invested significant amounts to help develop a regional life sciences sector and was committed to helping it grow and diversify, both for economic and social benefit.

"As a largely mountainous region with a widely-scattered mainland population and almost 100 inhabited islands, the Highlands and Islands is a location which stands to benefit from healthcare innovation," said Mr Paterson. "The increasing limitations on healthcare budgets make innovation in efficiencies of delivering healthcare necessary. At the same time an aging population will demand healthcare in patient's homes.

"In economic terms there are real development opportunities. HIE sees the use of digital technology to deliver healthcare as an important niche in the life sciences sector, and one in with the Highlands and Islands can develop real expertise over the coming years.

"The regional life sciences sector already consists of over 50 active organisations, supporting 1,800 jobs and contributing £130 million to the economy every year.

"HIE wants to see the Highlands and Islands become a major player in Scotland's world-class life sciences sector.

"The region is already home to the country's biggest life sciences company, LifeScan Scotland, as well as dozens of ambitious businesses, including Aquapharm and Glycomar in Argyll, Dan Medical and Highland Biosciences in Inverness, and Equateq in Lewis, among others. Also, some IT and contact centre companies, such as Skye's SiteKit Solutions and Brora's The Listening Company work extensively in healthcare across the UK.

"Just as importantly, the sector has tremendous potential for growth. That's why HIE is supporting a number of life sciences businesses across the region and is behind major infrastructure projects such as the Centre for Health Science in Inverness and the proposed £7.5m first phase of a new European Marine Science Park at Dunstaffnage, by Oban. UHI is also leading research in a number of different fields related to remote healthcare.

"The Highlands and Islands has a long history of delivering healthcare remotely." said Mr Paterson. "With one in four of the businesses in the regional sector actively developing interests in digital healthcare exciting opportunities exist for ambitious individuals and companies. In addition to Life Sciences business, there all also a number of ICT, electronics, engineering and design businesses collaborating with the sector to make the most of these opportunities"

To find out more and download the 'Vision for Telehealthcare in Scotland 2020' as well as presentations from the event, visit our telehealthcare pages.

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