eHealth Asia 2007 conference was aimed to provide a platform to discuss the recent trends and emerging issues in the development of information and communication technology and its integration in the healthcare systems

In the last few years, e-Health has emerged as a tool for substantial productivity gains and restructured, citizen-centric health care. Thus it was no wonder that e-Health Asia 2007, which was one of the five main tracks of the eAsia 2007 event, organised by Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC), Putrajaya, Malaysia during 6-8 February 2007, garnered considerable attraction among a cross-section of e-Health experts, medical professionals and academics. The conference sought to provide a platform to discuss the recent trends and emerging issues in the development of information and communication science and technology and its integration in the healthcare systems.

Following the grand inaugural session of 6 February 2007, the sessions with interesting presentations and discussions commenced on February 7. The first session of e-Health track was on ‘ICT Integration in National Health Policy.’ The session was chaired by Prof. Yun Sik Kwak from ISO T/C 215 Health Informatics Standard, Korea. In this session, Gabe Rijpma, Director of Government Solutions, Microsoft Corporation, Asia Pacific, highlighted three main themes: paradigm shift in healthcare, improving productivity in healthcare and scaling health to overcome biggest challenges. He described ICT as ‘enabler’, not as the ‘only answer’. He emphasized on innovative ways of scaling health service delivery, which can be supported by technology. He also stressed that ICT integration in national health policy needs to be supported in the budgetary process so as to deliver results.

Frank Lievens, Board Member, International Society for Telemedicine and e-Health, Belgium, shared his views on international initiatives, structure and trends in the e-Health policy aspect. He narrated the challenges associated with health and suggested probable means to meet those challenges. In this context, he explained the significance of the concept of ‘e-Health’. During the question-answer session, the following recommendations were made: (i) It is essential to consider the people’s concern while implementing ICT for health services, (ii) key challenges and issues need to be focussed with cross-cultural perspectives.

The second session was on ‘Health Informatics Standards’, which was chaired by Dr. Basheerhamad Shadrach, IDRC, programme, India. In this session, Dr. S. Selvaraju from Ministry of Health, Government of Malaysia, discussed about the health infrastructure in Malaysia and emphasized on the standardisation of medical terminologies.  Prof. Yun Sik Kwak pointed out the importance of global standards as a key to interoperable e-Health systems for continuity of care and disease surveillance. He also highlighted the activities of e-Health Standardisation Coordination Group (eHSCG), that targets to promote stronger co-operation amongst the key players in the e-Health standardisation area. Bruno von Niman, TC Human Factors, European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI), Sweden, discussed about user experience design guidelines for telecare services and narrated the activities of European Telecommunication Standards Institute. Qurat-ul-Ain Salim Khan from National University of Science and Technology, Pakistan, described a step towards interoperability in ECG equipment. In her presentation, she focussed on the present ECG standard and the proposed ECG standard, emphasizing on implementation of a single standard, seamless integration with existing systems, recognised medical body and discouragement of proprietary standards. The recommendations in this session, based on the question-answer session at the end of the presentations, included developing a regional coordination sector for regional standardisation of health database. Building up standards for medical terminology and introducing telecare services in all the nations were also recommended.

The third session of the day was on ‘ICT Capacity Building for eHealth Implementation.’ The session was chaired by Frank Lievens, Board Member, International Society for Telemedicine and e-Health, Belgium. Dr. H.M.Goh, WG2, Asia Pacific Association of Medical Informatics (APAMI), Malaysia, discussed on ICT capacity building for e-Health implementation with reference to Malaysian e-Health journey. Dr. Dhrupad Mathur, Fellow and Alumni, Diplo Foundation, Geneva, presented a paper jointly written by Eva Tanner, Diplo Foundation, Switzerland and him. He explained the pilot project of Diplo Foundation, titled Health Diplomacy Research Course. The recommendations in this session, based on the question-answer session, were as follows: (i) As a major step for capacity building, ICT must be introduced in medical schools, (ii) list of courses linked to e-Health must be available to the citizens online, (iii) effectiveness of any training related to capacity building must be measured in a proper way.

The fourth and the last session of the day was on ‘e-Health Applications in Asia’, chaired by Dr. H.M.Goh. This session showcased the efforts in the Asia region in e-Health application. Dr. Azrin Zubir, CEO/Health Informatics Consultant, Meridian Project Management Sdn Bhd, focussed on ‘Electronic Health Record: Pre-requisite and Challenges,’ with special reference to Malaysia. Dr. Shashi Gogia from Indian Association for Medical Informatics (IAMI), India, highlighted on telemental health support after disasters, based on the post tsunami experience from India. He also narrated the activities of Society for Administration of Telemedicine and Healthcare Informatics (SATHI). The title of the paper, presented by Jay M. Bernhardt, Director, National Centre for Health Marketing, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, was ‘The Potential of E-PublicHealth: CDC’s Focus on the Future’. Santulan Chaubey, Manager-Information Technology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Government of Delhi, described ‘Common EHCR Architecture for e-Health Applications in Asia’. The major recommendations in this session include the following: (i) Legal issues related to ICT use in the health sector need to be taken care of; (ii) Electronic health record needs to be maintained for the community care; (iii) Blog might be a useful way for communicating among people of e-Health community.

The first session of 8th February was entitled ‘Health IT Initiatives: Country Case Studies’. It was chaired by Dato’ Prof. Jai Mohan, FAMM Professor of Health Informatics & Pediatrics, International Medical University, who also presented his paper on the need of total health informatics system, with special mention on Malaysia’s health vision. Case studies on health IT initiatives were discussed by Dr. Molly Cheah, Open Source Health Care Alliance (OSHCA), Malaysia where she also described the mission, vision and initiatives of OSCHA. Jagjit Singh Bhatia, Director, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) Mohali, India, narrated the initiatives in implementing telemedicine technologies by C-DAC, Mohali and Dr. J.A.Davis from GP Assist, Australia, explained the role played by GP Assist in Australian healthcare sector. GP Assist provides after hours workforce relief to rural general practioners (GPs) throughout down under. The title of the paper by Dr. Penny O’Hara, Clinical Director, BT Health, UK was ‘e-Health in the UK A Supplier Perspective’, where she explained the activities of the National Health Service (NHS) of the UK and UK NHS National Programme for IT. Dr. Marie Carmela M. Lapitan from National Telehealth Centre, Philippines, also presented a paper, jointly written by Dr. Alvin B. Marcelo and herself. The title of the paper was ‘The Philippine eHealth Initiatives’. At the end of the presentations, questions were raised regarding the limitations of open source use for health information and also regarding the maintenance of privacy of information, while using ICT. A major recommendation of this session was exploring the possibility of using health IT at local levels.

The second session of the day was on ‘Technology Innovations in Health Service Delivery’, which was chaired by Dr. J.A.Davis from GP Assist, Australia. In this session, Dr. Anis Fuad, Sr. Lecturer, Health Management Information Systems Department, Graduate Programme of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Gadjah Mada University, discussed the innovations in district health information system in his paper with special reference to cases in Indonesia. Gabe Rijpma described the technology innovations with the help of some audio-visual presentations and emphasized the next generation clinical user interfaces. The paper entitled as ‘A Proposition for Low Cost Preventive Cardiology for Rural Health Care System’ was presented by Sujay Deb from G. S. Sanyal School of Telecommunications, India and Dr. D. Goswami from B. C. Roy Technology Hospital, India. During the question-answer session, questions were raised on the cost indicators for telemedicine centres and standardised equipments. A major recommendation was made for setting up of data collection and analysis centres, especially for the developing countries like India.

‘Service Delivery Mechan- isms for e-Health’ was the theme of the third session of the day, and this session was chaired by Dr. Anis Fuad. Dr.Jibanananda Roy from Institute for Planning Innovative Research, Kolkata, India, presented his paper on ‘A GIS Based Referral Planning System’ where he described the referral system in the context of health system development, providing examples from Sunderban in India. Dr. Ahmad Taufik, Head of IT, Hospital UKM shared the experience of developing and deploying hospital information system, in a major teaching hospital in Malaysia. Sapiah Binti Sulaiman, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Systems, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Malaysia, discussed about information ethics in paperless hospitals. Dr. Zaitun Abu Bakar from University of Malaya, Malaysia described the Malaysian Immunisation Registry and Tracking System (MIRTS). Toms K. Thomas, Senior Manager, Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF), India, presented his paper entitled ‘E-Solution in National Rural Health Mission’ where he described the national rural health mission of India and the main issues of health in India. There was a recommendation for emphasizing the requirement of infrastructure development, for basic healthcare system.

The theme of the final session of the last day of the conference was ‘Opportunities and Challenges of e-Health Adoption’, which was chaired by Dr. Penny O’Hara. The title of the paper presented by Melinda G. Frost, Lead, Global Communication & Marketing, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USA was ‘eHealth on the Frontline of Disease Control and Prevention: Ensuring 2-way Communi- cation to Affected Populations’ where special mention was made on the pilot projects for 2006-2008. Ramin Moghaddam, MD, Medical Informatics Department, Tehran, Iran shared his views on Transcontinental Electronic Health Record (HER); he discussed about the issues related to health in Asian countries and raised the question whether HER is a ‘myth’ or a ‘reality’ in Asia.

Dr. Rakesh Biswas, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Melaka-Manipal Medical College, Melaka, Malaysia, discussed his paper titled ‘Meaningful Health Information for All, Utilising a User Driven Health Care Model’. Jayanthy Maniam, Head, ICT R&D Centre, School of Computer Technology, Sunway University College, shared her experience-based views on ‘Mobile Phone Based Pregnancy Support System’. She explained how the system would assist the pregnant mother and her spouse to be aware of the changes during pregnancy and take necessary actions to prevent the unforeseen problems. A major recommendation of this session was the creation of web-based info platform to share knowledge and information.

At the end of all sessions, the recommendations of the e-Health track were discussed in the valedictory session, which made a sum up of all the five tracks of the eAsia 2007 event.

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Tags: asia Asia Pacific Australia Basheerhamad Shadrach basic healthcare system Belgium Board Member cellular telephone Centre Clinical Director D. Goswami Department of Medicine Director Disease ehealth GLOBAL EVENT GPS Health care informatics Health Informatics Health informatics in China health information technology health infrastructure health services Health/Medical/Pharmaceuticals healthcare Healthcare sector healthcare systems Hospital UKM ICT Capacity Building ICT R&D Centre India Indian Association for Medical Informatics Indonesia information technology Institute for Planning Innovative Research Institute of Liver Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences International Medical University International Society for Telemedicine Kolkata korea Lecturer Malaysia Manager Manager Evangelical Social Action Forum Marie Carmela marketing medical technology Melaka Melaka-Manipal Medical College Melinda G. Frost Meridian Project Management Sdn Bhd Microsoft Corporation Microsoft Corporation Portable Audio Device ministry of health mohali Molly Cheah National Centre for Health Marketing National Health Service National Rural Health Mission National Telehealth Centre National University of Science National University of Science and Technology Natural Disaster Open Source Health Care Alliance pakistan Philippines pilot project Prevention Professor of Health Informatics & Pediatrics public health Putrajaya S. Selvaraju Santulan Chaubey School of Computer Technology Shashi Gogia Society for Administration of Telemedicine and Healthcare Informatics Sujay Deb Sunway University College sweden Technology technology innovations telehealth telemedicine telemedicine technologies United Kingdom United States Universiti Teknologi Mara

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