March 2009

Innovation Unplugged – HIMSS AsiaPac 09, 24-27 February; KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


The annual conference and exhibition of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s Asia-Pacific chapter (HIMSS Asiapac ’09) was recently held from 24-27 February, 2009 at the magnificent Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in the heart of the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. HIMSS Asiapac ’09 witnessed participation of nearly 1800 delegates gathering from 26 countries from Asia-pacific and beyond. A vibrant exhibition that ran along with three days of the conference had 62 exhibitors showcasing latest technologies and solutions in the domain of healthcare and medical IT. eHEALTH magazine is proud to be a ‘Media Partner’ of the event and takes great pleasure in bringing you this post event review.

HIMSS AsiaPac 09, 24-27 February  KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Over the past few decades, healthcare and medical industry across the world had undergone significant transformation through adoption and uptake of IT. However, until even a few years ago, the majority of such success stories were found only among developed economies of the West primarily in the USA and parts of Europe. Interestingly enough, over the last decade, an appreciable number of Asian healthcare organisations started looking into IT as a potential enabler for achieving global standards in care delivery and a tool to significantly improve overall organisational performance.

HIMSS Asiapac ’09 held recently in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was a novel meeting ground of a large number of experts from around the world who are relentlessly committed to forward the cause of IT in healthcare.  Spanning over three and a half days, the event brought together senior professionals and utives from healthcare service providers, technology vendors, academic/research institutions and government.

Held under the endorsement of Ministry of Health, Malaysia, HIMSS Asiapac ’09 was officiated by the Minister of Health Malaysia, Dato’ Liow Tiong Lai over an evening ceremony on February 24 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Speaking on this occasion, Minister Dato’ Tiong Lai emphasised the need for adopting ICT best practices in healthcare and the boundless opportunity offered by advanced technologies (such as telemedicine and telehealth) to extend healthcare services and benefits to people spread far and wide across geographies. Highlighting the effort of the Malaysian government in this direction, Minister Dato’ Tiong Lai made special mention of some of the early initiatives of the country in bringing effective policy interventions, research support and fast track technology adoption in public healthcare system. Expressing his gratitude for organisations like HIMSS, he wished the conference a grand success and promised continued support for all such future initiatives.

The main conference opened on the morning of February 25th with a welcome keynote address by the Director-General of Ministry of Health Malaysia, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Mohd Ismail bin Merican, followed by the opening keynote address by Professor William Edward Hammond, Chairman, Health Level Seven Inc. Delivering his speech on the topic of global EHR best practices, Prof. Hammond said, “health IT is not just about using computers in healthcare, it is about solving healthcare problems through computers”. Further, commenting on the general misconception about EHR, Prof. Hammond added, “more data does not necessary mean more information. Hence, EHR by itself cannot be a solution for all clinical problems. Rather, it is a mean to do so, only when used under a proper analytical framework.” In this regard, he also underlined the need for adopting uniform global standards in technology, clinical practice and policy; and creating opportunities for collaborative knowledge sharing towards achievement of global EHR.

The next two and half days was dotted with a plethora of technical sessions and paper presentations across topics covering ‘eHealth Best Practices’; ‘EHR/EMR/EPR/PHR’; ‘IT Strategy & Innovation; ‘Business Models for Sustainable IT’; ‘Communication Networks and Connectivity Solutions’; ‘Clinical Leadership & Governance’ and ‘Health IT Standards’.

Capturing the mindshare of some global eHealth experts, a three day parallel track (‘Thought Leader Session’) featured as many as eight prominent healthcare experts speaking on wide ranging topics ranging from ‘patient-centric and integrated EMRs’; ‘semantic interoperability in healthcare technologies’; ‘online PHR and personal health management’; ‘policy interventions for interoperability challenges’ and ‘best practices in hospital automation’, among others. Speakers in these sessions included Benjamin ONG (National University Health System, Singapore), Dr. John Wocher (Kamenda Medical Center, Japan), Hyeoun-Ae Park (College of Nursing, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea), Victor J Strecher (University of Micigan Schools of Public Health and Medicine, USA), Deborah Chin (Standards New Zealand, New Zealand), Azrin Mohd Zubir (Meridian Project Management Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia), R Basil (Manipal Health Systems, India) and Winai Sawasdivorn (Thai National Health Security Office, Thailand).

Besides having an active conferencing, HIMSS Asiapac ’09, also provided an excellent opportunity for technology vendors and solution providers to showcase some of the latest innovations happening in health IT. As many as 62 exhibitors participated in this three day exhibition, which brought together both global and local vendors to share a common platform and leverage opportunities of business networking, knowledge sharing and development of new partnerships. A broad range of technologies and applications were showcased, ranging from hospital automation, ERP systems, network and mobility solutions, hand-held devices, point-of-care solutions, telemedicine and telehealth systems, public health and geospatial applications among others. Some of the well known vendors who participated in the exhibition included InterSystems, iSoft, GE, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Agfa, Carestream, Eclipsys, Epic Systems, Clinical Solutions, Hospira, ProfDoc, Orion Health, Medical-Objects, Cisco, Extreme Networks, Aruba Networks, Trapeze Networks, ESRI, Motion Computing, Zynx Health among others. In addition, the exhibition also showcased initiatives of Ministry of Health Malaysia (highlighting their landmark eHealth initiative through the indigenously developed Tele Primary Care solution) and that of the Malaysian Multimedia Development Corporation (highlighting the MSC Malaysia Telehealth program).

HIMSS Apac ’09 also hosted a number of value-added side events in form of mini-seminars, symposiums, workshops, tutorials and study tours organised around the main show. Some of these are as follows

‘Developing Countries Workshop’ (held as a pre-conference session at the main venue, this full-day intensive workshop was created specifically for providers, leaders and government officials from emerging nations to discuss issues on primary healthcare, capacity building, human resource development, education and training)

‘Physicians’ & IT Leadership Symposium’ (held at Hospital Serdang in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur city, the symposium focused on solution-driven approaches, IT-based integration and expansion of care delivery, and overall implementation strategies for electronic systems in streamlining clinical processes and workflow)

‘Nursing Informatics Symposium’ (held at the Prince Court Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur,  this symposium provided opportunity for nurses, clinicians and managers to discuss key issues on how to effectively integrate IT tools to improve processes and workflow at the point of care and approaches for enhancing patient care and quality outcomes)

‘Product Tutorials’ (held in custom-built mini-theatres in the exhibition hall, product tutorials were designed to provide opportunities for exhibiting companies to  present real life case studies of their product/solution through short presentations. A total of 11 presentations were scheduled over the conference days, with contribution from 9 vendors, namely Microsoft, InterSystems, Philips, SAP, Medical-Objects, Capsule Technologies, Zynx Health, Advantech and Diversinet)

‘Interoperability Showcase’ (held in a special designated lounge in the exhibition area, the interop showcase highlighted ‘Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise’ (IHE) framework developed for creating a common framework for seamless flow of vital health information among multiple applications, systems and care settings, across different healthcare institutions. The showcase was sponsored by GE Healthcare and supported by MSC Malaysia, and drew contributions from implementers such as 1001 Technologies, HeiTech, Kompakar, Initiate, Oracle, Pi and Speedminer). ‘InterSystems Breakfast Seminar’ (held as a special morning session on second day of the conference, this special seminar organised by InterSystems had Dr. Karanvir Singh, Consultant Surgeon & In-Charge of HIS Implementation in Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi to share his experience in implementing an advanced HIS in a complex hospital environment and how it has transformed organisational systems and the overall process of healthcare delivery).

‘Cerner’s Study Tour to Prince Court Medical Centre’ (this special study tour conducted by Cerner was organised with the purpose of providing an opportunity for participants to get a first-hand experience of a truly futuristic and completely paperless hospital environment at the prestigious Prince Court Medical Centre in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The tour primarily highlighted the medical centre’s vision and experience in the process of becoming a leader of healthcare in Asia and how it is using some of the most advanced automated clinical systems for efficient care management and patient experience).

The event was also marked by a couple of landmark product releases by some of the leading HIT vendors, along with launch of new alliances and collaborative initiatives.

‘Lorenzo’ Soft Launch:

iSoft (an IBA Health group company and one of the global leaders in healthcare IT solutions) launched their ‘Lorenzo’ solution for Asian market. This new solution aimed for complex healthcare enterprise environment promises to revolutionise care delivery through superior process automation and world-class clinical decision support system.

GE Healthcare’s Product Launch & Partnership Announcement:

GE Healthcare (a leading global provider of healthcare products and IT solutions) unveiled a suite of web-based imaging solution ‘Centricity PACS-IW’ and a web-based diagnostic viewer with workflow integration and streaming technology ‘Centricity PACS Web Diagnostic’ (WebDX) targeted for healthcare markets in Asia. While the former will offer imaging portability with powerful clinical tools for hospitals and outpatient imaging centers, the later will enable richer collaboration between radiologists, referring physicians and specialists. In addition, GE Healthcare also announced their newly structured partnership with HCL by integrating them with business and technology services of GE Healthcare’s portfolio of healthcare IT software. The partnership will enable current and future customers to utilise HCL for all aspects of their healthcare IT lifecycle across planning, deployment, customization, and ongoing maintenance.

Launch of Alliance for Clinical Excellence (ACE):

Setting the tone for a collaborative effort towards advancement of IT in global healthcare industry, several organisations involved in the health IT domain announced the launch of a international initiative the ‘Alliance for Clinical Excellence’ (ACE). ACE seeks to address the fundamental and growing need for change in the way healthcare industry uates the deployment of IT systems and aims to bring effectiveness, safety and innovation in the industry through value-added partnerships and research. ACE participants committed to the initiative at launch time are – Hong Kong Hospital Authority, Hong Kong Society of Medical Informatics, iSoft, MOH Holdings Pte. Ltd, National University of Singapore School of Computing, Oracle, Orion Health and CHIK Services-Australia.

Launch of Health User’s Group (HUG) in Apac by Microsoft & HIMSS:

Microsoft Corporation and HIMSS jointly announced the launch of the Microsoft Health Users Group (MS-HUG) for Asia-Pacific region. This will provide healthcare organisations and technology partners in this region with access to an online forum to facilitate the development of healthcare solutions. This forum will act as a venue for influencers and developers of healthcare technology solutions to collaborate and contribute to aspects of solutions built on Microsoft software platforms. It allows the healthcare technology community to discover new uses for existing technology, provide development support, network with peers, and to discuss needs and desires arising from the current use of healthcare IT. Until recently, it was accessible only to healthcare organisations and technology partners in North America, Europe, Middle-East and Africa.

With an array of weeklong activities, HIMSS Asiapac ’09 was a truly enriching experience to witness the latest advancements and developments in health IT. With more than 1800 delegates from 26 countries of Asia and beyond, it provided a perfect platform for quality business networking and knowledge sharing ina truly international setting.

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