Region 'is technology test bed'
Major US and European healthcare companies will this week be urged to use Northern Ireland as a test bed for new technological innovations.
The message will be delivered by Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots when he meets market leaders from the sector in Boston.
Mr Poots said Northern Ireland's healthcare model was ideally suited for companies to test and develop new advances. The minister said the arrangement would be mutually beneficial as local patients would gain from the latest technologies.
The four-day lobbying visit to the US is part of Mr Poots' drive to reconfigure service delivery in Northern Ireland, with more emphasis on care closer to home and away from a hospital setting.
Technology is key to facilitating the changes proposed in the minister's Transforming Your Care blueprint.
Local health trusts have recently adopted new Telemonitoring technology that allows patients to take medical readings at home and automatically send information directly to a healthcare provider via a telephone link.
Mr Poots is scheduled to address delegates from both sides of the Atlantic at the EU/US eHealth Marketplace event in Boston.
He is also due to co-host a lunch for delegates at the Massachusetts State House with Senate President Therese Murray with the aim of forging links with business and political leaders from across the United States and Europe.
The minister will then attend the Partners Connected Health Symposium in Boston alongside many experts in health technology from across the globe.
"Innovation in healthcare is vital to improving patient care and is at the centre of Transforming Your Care," he said. "This visit offers us an excellent opportunity to bring closer the day when everyone who needs to access hi-tech care in their homes can do so."