Technology can support the delivery of heath services at scale and pace

Technology can support the delivery of heath services at scale and pace

What's your name and what position do you hold?

John Ward, Head of Digital & Emerging Technologies, EY

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I have EY responsibilities, and client delivery responsibilities. I lead a large team of technology professionals working cross industry helping our clients apply the latest technology to deliver business value. My day-to-day responsibilities are to ensure this team is set up for success, and has the right mix of skills, capabilities and culture to deliver for our clients.

I also have a few clients where I am the engagement partner. As the Head of Digital & Emerging Technologies, the projects I work on are at the leading-edge of innovative solutions; they involve bringing new thinking, capabilities and modern platforms to accelerate digital initiatives. My key responsibility for these projects is to ensure the promise of emerging technologies delivers the intended business value for our clients.

What is your professional background?

Technology can support the delivery of heath services at scale and pace

My background is Computing Science and I have over 25+ years’ experience in technology delivery and implementation. I have held a few roles leading technology change (from strategy to delivery) in large and complex programmes in the financial, commercial, government and health sectors.

While I am a technologist and work cross industry, the sector I have spent most time in is government and health. I have delivered technology solutions for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, An Garda Siochana, and the HSE.

What will the impact of COVID-19 be on health spending? Will health outcomes deteriorate after the virtual shutdown in “elective” procedures, and what are the lessons?

I don’t think we will know the true impact of COVID-19 on the deterioration of health for some time to come. A recent paper by the EU reviewed the excess deaths between Jan 2020 and Nov 2021 and found that 1.1 million excess deaths were recorded when compared to the years 2016-2019. This is greater than the official COVID-19 death figures and gives some indication of the wider impact of COVID-19 on health outcomes. The other consideration is long COVID, the extent and the prevalence of this is something that can only be quantified in time with the right data.

Regarding health spending, I believe that the public consciousness has been awoken to the importance of health and science, and to the importance of how technology can support the delivery of heath services at scale and pace. That will require significant and ongoing investment in the years to come.

What lessons have we learned for the next crisis?

As a technologist the key lesson for me is that we need to continue to modernise our health services to be digitally enabled. COVID-19 required the ability to deliver and measure a health outcome for all our citizens through the COVID-19 pathway. We need to ensure that this is the standard not the exception for all health pathways.

What opportunities will emerge out of the current crisis and eventual recovery for transforming health care?

The public have witnessed how effective health services can be delivered at pace and scale, supported by digital enablement. We need to leverage these platforms for transforming our approach across all health pathways.

What will the healthcare experience look like by the end of this decade?

A healthcare experience that is patient led, that is digitally enabled, and that is focused as much on wellness as it is illness.

A significant proportion of our population are using wearables, and using those ecosystems has potential to change our approach to preventative health.

John Ward is speaking at the virtual 2022 National Health Summit, on Feb 8th. For details and to book visit