How digital technology is transforming health care – EAHM Conference

Today we as healthcare providers face a new challenge: unleashing the power of digital technology to fundamentally reinvent how healthcare is delivered.  This was the challenge posed to attendees at the recent ehealth conference. “E-health transforming healthcare in disruptive times” held in the Royal College of Surgeons, write David Wall and Peter Roche.

Some of the those who attended the EAHM Conference, pictured with, EAHM Council members  and members of the National Ambulance Service Pipe Band.
Some of the those who attended the EAHM Conference, pictured with, EAHM Council members and members of the National Ambulance Service Pipe Band.

Health leaders from Ireland and 20 European countries gathered in Dublin to attend the European Association of Hospital Managers’ ehealth event “e-health transforming healthcare in disruptive times”.  The opening ceremony saw members of the National Ambulance pipe band welcome delegates.

Opening the conference, Mr Gerry O’Dwyer, President of the European Association of Hospital Managers said “Digital technology has become part of our lives, Today we as healthcare providers face a new challenge: unleashing the power of digital technology to fundamentally reinvent how healthcare is delivered.  Without digital technology, it’s simply not possible for us to continue to deliver a sustainable model of healthcare, meet the growing demands for services, while empowering patients.”

Following the opening addresses, Dr Pierre-Michael Meier, EAHM IT Group Chair offered his thoughts on how technology will play a part in the future development of healthcare before formally introducing the speakers for the opening day of the conference.

Over the course of the two days there were 19 presentations with excellent dialogue and debate, from industry partners, healthcare managers, hospital academic partners and experts on how digital has the ability to transform how healthcare is delivered now and in the future.  Many of solutions presented are live and in operation in hospitals across Europe and Ireland.

Delegates also had the opportunity to experience the virtual world of healthcare with Microsoft’s HoloLens and see how virtual reality is changing how healthcare is delivered.

Topics included artificial intelligence, precision medicine, cyber security, cancer diagnostics, patient safety and digital hospitals.  Although it was a European event, Ireland was well represented with contributions from Liam Woods, HSE Director of Acute Services and  Fran Thompson, HSE Director of ehealth and speakers from several Irish companies which are achieving success both in Ireland and in the wider afield with the digital healthcare solutions.

Delegates also had the opportunity to experience the virtual world of healthcare with Microsoft’s HoloLens and see how virtual reality is changing how healthcare is delivered.

The conference also heard how through analysing data, digital healthcare will identify emerging social changes and lifestyle trends. Being forewarned of patterns of change will give health healthcare organisations time to respond. Digital can also provide significant financial savings through identifying inefficient and wasteful practices.

However, it was not all about the technology. Presentations also demonstrated how Digital can support new ways of solving healthcare problems and create a unique experiences for patients. Over the longer term, digital healthcare will help system-wide operations and organisations deliver more powerful healthcare.

A notable feature of the event was the networking opportunities, which allowed delegates to interact, share ideas and identify new opportunities for collaboration across Europe, which will hopefully help shape delivery of future healthcare IT solutions.  Closing the conference Ms. Lucy Nugent, President of the Health Management Institute of Ireland commented “Digital is an ever increasing enabler across the whole spectrum of healthcare delivery, leading to improved patient outcomes, greater patient autonomy, safer systems, patient and staff satisfaction –  the future is digital.”