‘Investing in e-health: people, knowledge and technology for a healthy future’ was the theme of the Health Informatics Conference, held in Melbourne 11-14 August. Attended by 650 delegates from a broad spectrum of professions from around the world (12 different countries) and 32 exhibitors, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn, share and network in the field of Health Informatics.

The conference themes included:

-Investing in e-health: providing a better healthcare system for economic and social good

-Preparing a 21st century healthcare workforce to deliver a 21st century healthcare system

-Promoting and facilitating access to health data and biomedical knowledge

-Strategic opportunities for investment and innovation in e-health

The challenge, like all conferences, was deciding which concurrent sessions to attend and which key experiences to share with other dietitians in this summary. 

The keynote speakers were exceptional, offering viewpoints from the entire range of health information technology (HIT) stakeholders (such as patients, organisations and end-users), and clearly reflecting the global shift towards participatory medicine. One of the standout opportunities for me included meeting Regina Holliday (activist, artist, speaker and author), who I talked about at this year’s DAA conference nutrition informatics workshop, and watching her paint throughout the conference sessions.  Presenting on patient advocacy, and sharing her experience and knowledge on the benefits of HIT and timely access to data, she is truly inspirational. Another patient perspective was presented by e-patient Dave deBronkart who has published in The British Medical Journal ‘How the e-patient community helped save my life: an essay by Dave deBronkart’ and ‘Let patients help: a patient engagement handbook’. He argues that patients are ‘the most underused resource in all heath and care’. Both presentations were emotive and re-ignited the motivation of the audience to continue to support and promote HIT in their arena.

Another stand out to me was the innovative and inspiring presentation session by Jack Andraka, a high school student from the USA and Dr Bertalan Mesko, a Medical Futurist from Hungary. Jack, who at the age of 15 created a novel paper sensor that detects pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer in 5 minutes for as little as 3 cents, provided insight into his search for a simple, convenient and cheap screening tool, along with his passion for free/open access to scientific data for everyone. Bertalan (a medical doctor with a PhD in in clinical genomics) presented the digital future of medicine and urged us to be keep up-to-date, embrace digital but avoid hype, communicate and crowdsource, understand there is no ultimate solution, and understand technology.

The Department of Health hosted a PCEHR consultation session I was fortunate to attend as a representative of DAA, sourcing feedback on the recent PCEHR review and future implementation strategies.

The Certified Health Informatician Australasia (CHIA) program launched a study guide, now available through HISA. The CHIA credential demonstrates that candidates meet the Health Informatics Core Competencies to perform safely and effectively as a health informatics professional in a broad range of practice settings.

Kirsty Maunder APD CHIA