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A retrospective look at the work of HIMSS Communities in Europe in 2018

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This is the time of the year when we take a moment to look back at the work of our HIMSS communities in Europe during the past 12 months and create new goals for the year to come. For a number of reasons, 2018 has made us proud and energized to make 2019 the best it can be. 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” Helen Keller

This quote encapsulates best the drive behind the work of our Nordic community. We started with small steps in March during the Nordic Workshop at HIMSS18, discussing ownership and use of data within national health systems. The more we deep-dived into the philosophical questions of who owns the data and what the greater good (or threat) would be from its use – the more we realised that we are hitting nails while trying to drive down the road.

The rhetoric shifted a few months later during the HIMSS Europe annual conference in Spain – from the ever-pressing “how” to “why” we need interoperability and what’s in for the patient. We “brought to life” patient Julie and Julie’s story of shuffling between Nordic countries all while trying to live a normal life as a young student diagnosed with diabetes Type 1. By looking into how we can help Julie and her condition, a momentum for the Nordics to step up as a region in view of EU Strategy for a Pan-European exchange of health data came to the surface. 

In 2019, HIMSS Nordic Community will be showcasing their vision for interoperable and integrated Nordic health system by demonstrating the value for the patient when roadblocks are removed. Under the tagline “Today a Challenge, Tomorrow a Reality”, the Community is looking into enabling patient freedom to live and act in national and cross-border open healthcare ecosystems, which is the picture painted by EU eHealth project “Digital health and care” and Nordic Innovation’s “2030 Nordic Health System Vision“. I take the occasion to invite every Nordic stakeholder to be part of the change and join the Nordic Delegation to HIMSS19 for an actionable start of the year. 

“Think big, act now, start today”

These were the words of Erik Gerritsen, Permanent Secretary of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, shared with the HIMSS Dutch Community during Community’s annual trip to the US.

From beginning to end, 2018 marked an incredibly action- and outcome-oriented journey for the Dutch community. From Las Vegas to Sitges and Amsterdam – this Community always came in highest numbers and with unrivalled vivacity; no matter the global, Pan-European, or local context of the annual community meetings.

In addition to “act now”, the Dutch were extraordinarily successful at matching those who own the problems with those who own the solutions – with the patient in the driver’s seat of innovation! This became ever more apparent with the merge of our two brands: “HIMSS” and “Health 2.0”. Namely, the HIMSS community centers on hospitals and healthcare systems while Health 2.0 is a grassroots movement with a great startup scene. The two worlds were first brought together in Europe with the “HIMSS Europe 18 and Health 2.0” Conference hosted under the patronage of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Netherlands. The model raised the bar for digital health conferences in Europe, and even more so, it received its twin at the community level with “Patient Included” hosted by HIMSS Dutch Community and Health 2.0 Amsterdam.

It comes as no surprise that the Netherlands was selected as the second most innovative country in the world for 2018 according to the Global Innovation Index (GII). From virtual hospitals to connected homes, the Community sees innovation as the panacea to scarcity of resources, especially of leadership, adoption, labour, and financial nature. The Community will be addressing these in 2019, during its first annual touchpoint in February at HIMSS19.  

Another European community that will be coming along with a delegation to HIMSS19, is the HIMSS French Community. The French community programme will offer a sneak peek into the future, exploring the roadmap on how to enable data-driven decisions in healthcare and at the same time performing a reality check on where is France with structuring data to inform clinical pathways, AI performance and clinicians’ readiness. The discussion is set to continue during HIMSS Liege in April to include the patient and the local innovation ecosystem in designing solutions that are easy to implement and scale.

“A rising tide lifts all boats”

The HIMSS Italian Community celebrated its first anniversary in March earlier this year with the 2018 goal to provide thought leadership and bring onboard each of Italy’s 20 regions in the advancement of country’s digital health agenda. This, alongside an extraordinary sense of community, has shaped the Italian membership as one of the most active and engaging multi-stakeholder local HIMSS groups in Europe during the past year.

From “GDPR Code of Conduct” to an advanced postgraduate course in Health Information Management Systems by ALTEMS, the Health Information Systems laboratory at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) and the HIMSS Italian Community, this Community has been one of the most prolific and entrepreneurial communities at HIMSS.

The November meeting saw more than 100 delegates get together in Rome to tackle various topics around data and IT security, the continuum of care, and international cooperation. It also marked the launch of an Italian chapter of the Women in Health IT Community, and the graduation of the first generation of students of the aforementioned UCSC-ALTEMS programme. UCSC-ALTEMS is now accepting applications for the 2019 class of the Healthcare Information Systems course before 19 February next year. 

The Community’s next gathering in Milan in March 2019 will address issues about the role of women and leadership in healthcare IT in Italy to then help share community actions, which will include an Italian Pavilion, planned for HIMSS Europe 19 and Health 2.0.

On that note, mark in your calendars 11-13 June 2019 to be in Helsinki, Finland and see all the communities that HIMSS has forged internationally come together to foster the development of a health care IT ecosystem and advance sharing of best practice examples.

And that’s a wrap. To a great 2019 ahead!

Angela Velkova is the HIMSS EMEA Director for Communities and Strategic Relations.

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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