June 24, 2011
Medical informaticists--1,351 from 48 countries--gathered in Seoul, South Korea, in August at the ninth MedInfo Congress, to explore "Global Health

Medical informaticists--1,351 from 48 countries--gathered in Seoul, South Korea, in August at the ninth MedInfo Congress, to explore "Global Health Networking: A Vision for the Next Millennium." MedInfo is the triennial meeting of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) and the 56 national informatics societies that make up its membership.

The vision set forth at MedInfo ’98 included a focus on managing patient care through networks that use synergies between Internet capabilities and computer-based patient records (CPR). Global changes in patient care were reflected by the increasing use of the term "electronic health record" and, within Europe, the term "shared care."

Despite cultural difficulties and differences, there is clear progress toward both of these concepts within the global community. In one workshop, attendees from around the world reported progress in these two areas and highlighted other areas, such as user acceptance, organizational development and system security, that will assume greater significance as networking electronic records becomes more common. Despite demonstrable advances in healthcare IT, workshop faculty and those attending the session agreed that the concept of the CPR still lacks definition and, therefore, remains an elusive goal.

In another perspective on networking, a panel of global IT experts focused on the Internet. Jan van Bemmel, editor of the IMIA Yearbook and a professor in the Department of Medical Informatics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, examined how the Internet is transforming healthcare. As representatives of the Geneva-based Health On the Net (HON) Foundation, Ron Appel, with the molecular imaging and bioinformatics laboratory at Geneva University, Switzerland, and Jean-Raoul Scherrer, director of the Department of Medical Informatics at Geneva University, described the development and use of an Internet code of conduct, a kind of "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for online medical information. Appel and Scherrer also examined two new search engines--MedHunt and MARVIN, the Multi-Agent Retrieval Vagabond on Information Networks. MARVIN is HON’s health sites retrieval robot.

Other leading healthcare informaticists from around the world moderated sessions highlighting other healthcare IT concerns, such as decision support, knowledge representation and telemedicine (known as "telematics" in Europe). Among the speakers were Edward Shortliffe, professor of medicine and medical informatics at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., and Ilias Iakovidis, with the European Commission DGXII, telematics applications for health in Brussels, Belgium, each of whom gave his perspective on the movement toward electronic health records. Warner Slack, assistant professor at Harvard University in Boston, spoke about empowering patients through computing, or what he calls "cybermedicine." Brian Hayes, from the Department of Epidemiology and biostatistics and the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, set forth the concept of "evidence-based informatics," using informatics principles and tools to harness research information for patient care.

MedInfo’s scientific program, chaired by Charles Safran, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Patrice Degoulet, professor in the Department of Medical Informatics at Broussais University Hospital in Paris, featured 262 scientific papers covering topics from decision support and telematics to security and human computer interaction. Of these papers, 70 specifically addressed the conference theme of global health networking, with the key focus on networked patient management. More than half of MedInfo’s 22 workshops and panels also addressed the conference theme, touching on telematics and other global health issues. These workshops were complemented by 20 pre-conference tutorials, 238 posters and a scientific exhibition with 120 vendors from 15 countries.

Local medical informaticists hosted the meeting, including: Program Chair Chang-Soon Koh, professor and president at Gaachon Medical College in Inchor, South Korea; Secretary General Han-Ik Cho, professor in the Department of Health Administration at Shin Heung College in Kyungki-do, South Korea; Subcommittee Chair Taiwoo Yoo, professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Seoul National University College of Medicine; and Vice Chair Jung Ho Park, director of the Department of Nursing at Ewha Women’s University, Mokong Hospital in Seoul. Lee Hee Ho, the first lady of South Korea, and Jong-Teh Li, chairman of the federation of the Korean information industry, delivered the opening addresses.

The conference closed with IMIA President Otto Rienhoff, professor in the Division of Medical Informatics at Georg August University in Gottingen, Germany, presenting the gavel to The Netherlands’ Jan van Bemmel. Van Bemmel will preside over MedInfo 2001 to be held in London and hosted by the British computer society.

Healthcare Informatics editorial board members Marion J. Ball and Judith V. Douglas participated in MedInfo. Both are Baltimore-based consultants with First Consulting Group and members of AMIA and IMIA.


Japan Supports Standards
Japan has joined a growing number of countries working toward standards in healthcare computing. The Japanese Association of Healthcare Information Systems Industries and the Japan Association of Medical Informatics collaborated to form Health Level 7 (HL7) Japan, an official affiliate of the U.S. standards group by the same name. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based HL7’s version 2.3 has developed 12 domains or categories of standards, but the Japanese group will be one of the first to place a large focus on clinical trials.

HL7 also has affiliate groups in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands and New Zealand. Members from all the groups are welcome to attend meetings of any HL7 affiliate. Translations of HL7 standards are done by the individual countries and then submitted to the U.S. group for approval.

Connecting Docs Worldwide
Physicians’ Online (POL) announced its intention to go global by forming its first international partnership. By working side-by-side with Health Online Service (HOS) multimedica, a German online service provider, physicians in Europe soon will be able to chat and consult online and in real time with U.S. physicians.

POL, Tarrytown, N.Y., operates a private, membership-based online network for physicians. POL provides its members access to various medical databases, online clinical symposia with peers, CME credit opportunities, daily medical news, recruiting services, private email accounts and Internet service. HOL multimedica, also a membership-based online service, provides 15,000 physicians with a variety of services, including recommendations for online diagnosis, online therapy and online expert advice.

Managing Global Managed Care
Managed Care On-Line (MCOL), an Internet-based service providing online managed care informational resources to subscribers, announced a partnership with the Academy for International Health Studies, an educational and business networking organization.

As a part of this collaboration, MCOL, Modesto, Calif., will develop an International Healthcare Forum to facilitate global discussions about managed care and other healthcare-related issues, says Clive Riddle, MCOL’s president. The Academy, Davis, Calif., will use MCOL to enhance managed care networking and education worldwide, says Jonathan Lewis, Academy president.

Brazilian Office Opens
The Object Management Group (OMG) in August opened a liaison office in Curitiba, Brazil. OMG, which uses object technology to promote its CORBA standards for distributed computing systems, will use the new office to assist Latin American vendors, universities and government agencies to learn about and adopt OMG specifications for middleware.

The office will be located in the headquarters of Visionnaire, a Brazilian consulting and software development firm.

Globetrotting by Demand
By setting up shop in Dublin, Ireland, officials with Sequoia Software Corp. hope to penetrate the healthcare markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

To break into the global market, Chris McCarthy, the company’s new VP of European operations, will rely on Sequoia’s existing strategic partnerships with several European-based companies, including Datex-Ohmeda in Finland, Lernout & Hauspie in Belgium and Microsoft Ltd., Microsoft’s European division.

--Lisa Paul


November 4-5, Eureka Brokerage Event: Applications of Information Technologies for Human Health, Stadtsäle St. Pölten, Austria. BIT Secretariat for Central and Eastern Europe:

November 5, Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland 3rd Annual Conference, Grand Hotel, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland (HISI):[email protected].

November 5-6, Knowledge Summit ’98: Focus on Performance Improvement, Copthorne Tara Hotel, Central London. Business Intelligence: 44 0 181 879 3355.

November 16-18, EuroSPI ’98: Software Process Improvement in Regions of Europe, Arken Conference Center, Gothenburg City, Sweden. International Software Consulting Network: [email protected].

November 21-23, The Impact of Telemedicine on Healthcare Management: G7 SP4/5 Working Group Sessions, Regensburg, Germany. Global Health Applications Project: 49 0 941 944 6818, 49 0 941 944 6954 (Fax).

November 30-December 2, IST 98: Living & Working in the Information Society, organized by the European Commission’s ACTS, Esprit and Telematics Applications programmes, Austria Center Vienna. Information Society Technologies: 32 2 295 3736 (Fax) or 32 2 296 4992 (Fax).

December 9-12, Summit on International Managed Care Trends, Fountainbleu Hotel, Miami Beach, Fla., USA. American Association of Health Plans and Academy for International Health Studies: (202) 778-3269.

December 9-12, Surgery Meets High Tech in the Information Age: Tele-Teaching, Tele-Education, Hospital Networking, Intranet and Internet Technologies for Healthcare, Munich, Germany: 352 31 40 80, [email protected].

December 17-18, International Conference on Knowledge-Based Computer Systems, Juhu, Mumbai, India. National Centre for Software Technology: 91 22 620 1606, [email protected].

January 5-8, 1999, HICSS-32: Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Aston Wailea Resort, Maui. University of Hawaii College of Business Administration: (808) 956-3251.

February 11-13, 1999, Toward an Electronic Patient Record-Asia, Rinku International Convention Centre, Osaka, Japan. TEPR ’99: 81 6 879 5900, [email protected].


American Medical Informatics Association

This site includes a search engine, making navigation a breeze. Patrons can find membership information, issues of the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association dating back to 1994 as well as position papers submitted to the JAMIA. Information on past meetings and conferences also is available.

International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA)

An extensive site, IMIA includes sections on coming and past events, links to resources and member societies worldwide, a list of working and special interest groups, informatics news, general IMIA information and special IMIA member services.

European Health Telematics Observatory (EHTO)

In 11 languages, this site offers a glossary of acronyms and abbreviations for telemedicine programs worldwide, EHTO journals dating from 1996, links to other telematics sites and general information on the Observatory and its members.

Swiss Society for Medical Informatics

Not only does this site list Society information, but it also offers links to healthcare information standards including CPRI and HL7, and medical organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

Medical Informatics in Eastern and Central Europe

This site includes a list of national medical informatics activity in 10 Eastern and Central European countries.

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