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MIE2009 Tuesday keynote – health enabling technologies September 1, 2009

Posted by peterjmurray in conference, EFMI, Europe, speaker.
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The first keynote talk of the day is from Reinhold Haux, IMIA President, on “Health enabling technologies for pervasive health care: a pivotal field for future medical informatics research and education?” He gave a background introduction to the Peter Reichertz Institute in Germany, named after one of the German pioneers of medical informatics. The institute has a research focus on eHealth, health-enabling technologies, and links to work in robotics, engineering and computer science, as well as being part of a medical school.

Reinhold introduced some of the demographic changes that will impact the future nature of healthcare delivery. There will be less working age people – will this mean that less people are able to afford quality care? Health enabling technologies (HET) and pervasive health may provide some answers. HET are designed to create conditions for sustainable health and self-care. Pervasive healthcare is about continuous care, with focus on home and outpatient care, proactive prevention of illness, assistive technologies, sensors everywhere, and being patient-centric. Saranummi’s 3 P’s of pervasive care are pervasive, personal and personalised. Enabling older people to live longer in their homes, rather than in hospital, can result in greatly reduced health costs.

Reinhold gave realtime examples of the use of triaxial accelerometer (which he was wearing) which can monitor movement, especially falls, and live monitoring of ECG (which he was also wearing). But he notes privacy issues on monitoring of the data. He reported on studies about measuring individual fall risk in people/patients by analysing gait movement; found that they could give high level of  prediction of fall risk, with about 80% accuracy, and activity levels were the most important parameter to measure.

He asked what are the consequences for or relation of HET to health/medical informatics. Is it ‘just’ bioengineering and sensor use? – he feels it is more than this, and is a part of health/medical informatics with implications for research and education. Health and medical informatics is an ever-changing field. HET will particularly have an effect on outpatient and home care. This will have impact on communications with professional and family care givers.

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