Interview with Brian O'Connor


For second year in a row, ECHAlliance has organized Health & Wellness @ Mobile World Congress, held in March in Barcelona. The aim of the event was exploring the most innovative mobile and connected health technologies currently on the market. ECHAlliance’s chairman, Brian O’Connor explains to Smart Health the mission of the organization and analyses how connected health is transforming the way to provide healthcare products and services all over the world.

What are the goals of the European Connected Health Alliance?

Our main goals are to speed up the deployment of innovations which will benefit citizens and patients, as well as to encourage stakeholders to work together by breaking down the many silos that exist and to facilitate the deployment of innovations.


What are the advantages of ECHAlliance’s membership?

Members come from governments, academia, industry, patients, economic agencies, etc. and are able to be more collaborative through being a member. Health, social care and wellness policies from many countries and regions are accessible through membership. Procurement opportunities are created more quickly because of the networks ability to communicate the latest news, innovations, etc. more effectively.


What is a connected health ecosystem? How it works and in which countries are being implemented? 

It is a permanent multi stakeholder community at local level with access to an international network. Under the ECHAlliance methodology and principles of collaboration, local ecosystems meet four times a year to find solutions which will improve citizen and patient care. ECHAlliance currently has ecosystems in Finland, Estonia, England, Scotland, North Ireland, Greece, Spain (often more than one in each country) with others in planning in Republic of Ireland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Wales, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Netherlands, Italy and the ECHAlliance is considering requests for ecosystems in a number of other European countries and regions. In addition the New York eHealth collaborative is an active network member and we expect to establish more ecosystems in the US, open the first Canadian ecosystem and we recently launched the China Connected Health Alliance.


In which way that ecosystem could improve the provisions of healthcare services? What are the advantages for patients?

By breaking down the silos that exist between the stakeholders, by encouraging and facilitating a collaborative approach to solving real problems and by demonstrating real success in one ecosystem and communication, and transferring that to the entire network therefore speeding up the deployment of success. Patients are part of the innovation process and can educate and influence stakeholders at an early stage. 


What is the ECHAlliance International Network of Permanent Connected Health Ecosystems about? How are all these ecosystems working together?

It is about like-minded stakeholders being part of a permanent community dedicated to collaboration, which builds relationships and then trust which enables solutions to get to market to benefit patients, companies and governments much more quickly than now. 


Are consumers ready for embracing mobile technologies in healthcare sector? What about doctors and other health professionals?

Yes, and yes again. The medical profession with some notable exceptions is slower to adopt these technologies than the patient. We are in the age of the consumer, who is empowered by technology and who demands that solutions are delivered where, when and how the consumer wants, not the way they are at present. 


ECHAlliance has organized the second Health & Wellness conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. What were the main outcomes of the conference?

Confirmation that multi-stakeholder engagement produces greater collaboration which reduces delays in implementation and time to market.


What opportunities offer Health & Wellness event at the Mobile World Congress for stakeholders in healthcare sector? What are the main highlights of the event?

It is designed to demonstrate that the old fashioned approach of dealing only with sickness isn’t working. The speakers list demonstrates that wellness, prevention and more effective sickness solutions are essential elements in the holistic approach required to cope with the increasing demands throughout the world. 


There have been any new apps, devices or technologies presented?

Many, from great companies such as Adidas, Orange, Samsung, Jawbone and many others. A new element this year has been the introduction of speakers from China who talked about how they are delivering care to 1.4 billion citizens and their latest five year plan.  


ECHAlliance is also working with the International Diabetes Federation to create a network of Diabetes Aware Cities. Could you explain this initiative and in which stage it is?

Diabetes is a huge and growing problem and governments throughout the world struggle to prevent it, treat it all within stretched budgets. The combination of the global expertise of the International Diabetes Federation and the networks of the ECHAlliance is designed to provide guidance to countries and cities on holistic programs which will positively impact on the problem. 


By Jose L. Cánovas


Brian O’Connor has developed his career as a consultant, manager and/or investor in both private and public companies. He has worked in the UK, the US and lived in Hong Kong for eleven years. He has gained vast experience as a company director in a variety of industries and professions, and has raised significant sums for companies through both private equity structures and stock exchange listings. 

Through his long established consultancy company, Corporate Direction Ltd, he is currently providing strategic advice to Governments, International organisations and companies on the challenges facing healthcare in general and specifically on the Connected Health opportunity.

Brian has founded a number of companies in the healthcare services area in the UK, Ireland and Hong Kong. During his time in Hong Kong he founded what has become the largest private healthcare group there.



Health and Wellness @ MWC 2015

The programme of the Health and Wellness @ Mobile World Congress 2015, held March 3-4 in Barcelona, consisted of keynote presentations by healthcare global leaders, interactive workshops and the showcase of innovative mobile and connected health technologies.

The two day conference hosted over 30+ SMEs from around the world displaying some of the most innovative mobile health & wellness solutions currently on the market, such as health apps, web platforms, doctor-patient communication tools, vital sign sensors and wearable technologies that are transforming the health and wellness of citizens. 

Health authorities, health providers, executives of leading companies, such as Roche, Adidas, Orange or Tunstall, and academia from across the globe shared real experiences of innovative Health & Wellness solutions. 



The European Connected Health Alliance 

The European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance) is a membership (not-for-profit) organisation, with a mission to deliver leadership for and facilitate the development of Connected Health markets and practice across Europe and beyond, in order to transform health, wellness and social care services and create economic growth. 

ECHAlliance is Europe’s largest Connected Health membership organisation, with over 200 member organisations from industry, academia the healthcare sector, patient groups and others. Membership of ECHAlliance provides opportunities for members to extend Connected Health networks contribute to the Connected Health agenda and shape delivery of their products and services. 

The ECHAlliance International Network of Permanent Connected Health Ecosystems is also continuing to expand, due to high demand from those wishing to break the silos and develop lasting collaborations to create better patient care, at lower costs and creating economic growth.