Why you should be planning a trip to Liège in Belgium if you are into digital health.

Posted on: 26.07.2018
Philippe Kohl with a microphone

Interview conducted by our specialist Bart Collet to Philippe Kolh, Professor and CIO at the Liège’s University Hospital of Liège, Belgium, who is already into the organisation of the second edition of the HIMSS Liege conference,2-3 April 2019, Liège, Belgium.

Why a second edition of the digital health conference, HIMSS Liège?

First of all, because of the momentum. The first edition was organised in 2017 for the reason that the University Hospital of Liège (CHU) was celebrating its 200-year birthday (founded by Willem Van Oranje in 1817) and the hospital celebrated its 30 years existence. This first edition went very well and because we did receive a lot of positive feedback, organising a second edition was quite obvious for us. Secondly, it seemed logical to build further upon the theme of 2017 (Continuity of Care Maturity Model), where we dealt with e-prescription, telemetry and interoperability. Organising a second edition, themed “Bringing patients and hospitals together through information and technology” is a very natural extension of the first edition.

And there’s a third reason why we needed to organise a next edition and that is to put the people at CHU in the spotlight that not only worked very hard to reach EMRAM 6 in November 2016, but also continuously work to improve healthcare delivery by technology. HIMSS Liège is an excellent opportunity to put those people in the spotlight. We are proud to have them and we are convinced striving towards excellence will also help recruitment and retainment.

Why is the city of Liège in Belgium a strategic place for digital health professionals to meet?

Not only because of its historical richness, but also its geographical position centrally to Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany.

As part of the programme, attendees will also be invited to join a guided hospital tour. The University Hospital of Liège continues to maintain its status as one of the most digitally mature hospitals in Europe, after successfully achieving a Stage 6 level of the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) in 2016. To date Belgium counts two Stage 6 hospitals and our neighbours in The Netherlands have two Stage 6 and two Stage 7. We would like to trigger interest for this, show and share our expertise on the matter and raise the bar for ourselves.

What is the focus of the HIMSS Liège conference?

Bringing patients and hospitals together through information and technology. During the conference, we will demonstrate how technology can be an enabler of a positive patient experience. We are convinced that investing in those technologies will safeguard, or even improve, empathy. This theme also complements the theme of the HIMSS Europe & Health 2.0 Conference 2018 in Sitges, which emphasised the importance of making patients the CEO’s of their healthcare journey.

How is the patient hospital relation evolving?

May sound contradictory to some, but we -as a hospital- try to decrease the length of stay of our patients and the youngest numbers show we are successful at this attempt. And this evolution is partly due to the advances in technology, making it possible to follow up the patient more closely. And this is certainly the case with elderly people and patients with chronic and/or multiple diseases.

In the patient – hospital relation, the focus of the hospital will gradually move to educating the patients and also prevention (especially chronic diseases).

And although the financing is lagging, I foresee the hospital is moving to the home. At the CHU we have developed some example cases illustrating this evolution, like HODISEE (at home hospital for cancer patients) and ENVOL (a pregnancy follow-up program at home).

What is your ideal future scenario for the Liège University Hospital?

Incorporating patient data in a structured way, timely and efficiently. If we can achieve such, we can develop smart data management which will result in clever triggers (notifications) which are extremely useful in existing workflows, for all parties involved.

Secondly, we should improve the patients experience and promote the various initiatives that attempt to improve them. We can measure PROM’s (Patient Reported Outcome Measure), but we should also focus on patient experience and make hospital staff aware of that patient experience. This will go hand in hand (full circle) with the progress of handling the patient data because well-informed caregivers will be more comfortable in interacting with patients. Those patients will feel much more at ease during such interactions and hence increase their positive experience.

Who should attend the HIMSS Liège conference next April 2019?

Anyone interested in information and technology, maturity models and patient centered care. This event is also interesting to receive hands-on information on how to reach EMRAM 6/7 and increase CCMM.

In short, this will be a very dynamic and interactive congress with additional workshops plus a hospital visit. This congress will give its visitors concrete insights in helping them move the needle. As a bonus, you will get to know the movers and shakers in the Benelux region and visit beautiful Liège!

Bart Collet

Bart Collet