What a great week I’ve just had at eHealth Week 2016 in Amsterdam!
It wasn't until I arrived that I truly appreciated the scale and scope of the event - full of sessions, full of exhibitors, full of attendees. It’s fantastic to see a strong contingent - from policy, clinical, IT and end-users, with experiences and solutions on how eHealth can truly transform the delivery of medicine and improve the health of each and every one of us. The conference was in a wonderful building, the former Amsterdam Stock Exchange building, the Beurs van Berlage, and the sessions I attended were all packed full, with a variety of demonstrations and discussions happening with exhibitors of all sizes and backgrounds.
The challenges are multiple, and one thing certainly stood out to me - they’re not constrained by geography. They’re across single patient’s home, surgery, hospital, or regions and even travers countries. And this perhaps, more than so at most events of a similar nature, was where eHealth Week shined - the truly international audience. From all four corners of Europe, and plenty from further afield, including those I met from Australia, Russia and the US. For all health systems are funded, provided differently, ultimately we’re all human, and the transformational nature of health technology can benefit us all.
Living up to the promise
As had been promised it was great to see that the ‘patient’ - and, I use this word loosely knowing it’s not ideal - was truly at the beating heart of this week. Not some sort of ‘bolt-on’ to a business conference. And so, for me, the week was given particular purpose and poignancy with the remarkable keynote from Anne-Miek Vroom (Keynote Video available here) who has to be amongst the bravest and smartest of them all, who gave us a truly revealing description of her experience. One slide above all set it all apart. It was a slide jam-packed with a series of interactions Anne-Miek had endured with the medical profession - contact time, tests, interventions and more. And then, as her speech continued, the giant realisation that much of it was not necessary. Much had been done because of a breakdown in communication - because of Health IT not be there for her. And it wasn't just a case of being unnecessary in every possible sense of the world - It was the very definition of the system generally violating the treasured Hippocratic oath - it was, for example with x-rays, actually causing harm to her.
We will do better as we link the pieces together
We have the fundamental technology which can power this. And more than ever, I believe that we collectively have the expertise - including the vast knowledge built up by the patient - to help co-create solutions. We just need to keep working together throughout the ecosystem. From policy makers to patients, from clinicians to administrators. From Anne-Miek, to those in their 9th or even 10th decade of life who participated in sessions – who live in a world where this matters. There is no beginning or end point as a traditional consultation suggests. And it goes beyond that - as the CEO of Connected Care & Health Informatics at Philips, Jeroen Tas, who is driving his company to do just this - reminded us - relatives or friends who have day-in, day-out, experience of healthcare and it’s frustrations.
The show must go on
I look forward to continuing the conversations, online and at future events as all of us there know things can be better. I’m sure eHealth Week 2017 in Malta will be as engaging, and events such as the new HIMSS Europe World of Health IT (WoHIT) Conference & Exhibition in Barcelona in the meantime, will continue to drive things forward.
In the meantime, my sincere thanks to all those who attended, and the many - and there were many - who helped make eHealth Week 2016 happen. Thank you Amsterdam!