Med-e-Tel, the International Conference and Exhibition for eHealth, Telemedicine and Health ICT, announces highlights of 2006 event

Luxembourg 28 February 2006The Med-e-Tel exhibition and conference, taking place on 5-7 April 2006 in Luxembourg, focuses on the convergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) with medical applications, which lead to higher quality of care, cost reductions, work flow efficiency, improved disease management and medication compliance, clinical decision support systems and widespread availability of health care services.

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This growing evolution of using and implementing ICTs into health care practice does create a need for close co-operation and mutual understanding among medical professionals, IT specialists and telecom engineers about their respective needs and capabilities. "This is exactly what Med-e-Tel is all about: bringing all parties together for the sake of learning from each other and sharing experiences", stated Frank Lievens, Med-e-Tel's International Co-ordinator and Board Member of the International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth (ISfTeH). "Med-e-Tel is a forum where offer - ICT industry - and demand - health care professionals - can meet, together with researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders."

As in previous years, Med-e-Tel will again welcome decision makers from over 40 countries worldwide and feature a world class conference programme, opening up windows to a multitude of ICT applications in the modern health care environment.

The opening session on April 5th will present and discuss some key activities and organisations that can be taken as reference points for the state of telemedicine and ehealth in the world today:

  • the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Observatory for eHealth, and the needs of the member states for ehealth tools and services;
  • the European eHealth action plan which is concentrating on making the most of health ICTs and better integrating a range of ehealth policies and activities;
  • the Telemedicine Alliance's vision for ehealth implementation;
  • the role of the International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth (ISfTeH) in the advancement of telemedicine and ehealth through interaction and co-operation among national and international stakeholder groups and associations;
  • industry viewpoint on the relationship between public and private sector to develop sustainable ehealth programmes.

Extensive focus will be placed throughout the conference on homecare and health/disease management, covering topics such as medication compliance, telemonitoring of vital signs, fall detection, video communication, and more. Home telehealth offers affordable and sometimes even necessary solutions to face the challenges of early hospital discharge, an increased ageing population and the associated rise in chronic conditions, and a predicted nursing shortage. Keeping patients-at-risk at home, or keeping the elderly living longer independently in their own home, will considerably relieve the current health care system and health care budgets.

On a related subject, the International Initiative for Ubiquitous Healthcare (uHealth), will present its views on how collaboration between countries and the use of broadband and wireless mobile technologies can help to provide health care to people anywhere at anytime. The initiative was conceived as part of the future activities of IEEE Healthcom, which brings together academia, industry, health care and information technology professionals to facilitate collaborations for the development of humanity's future good.

According to the uHealth Initiative, the world's increasing ageing population necessitates concentrated research and action on health care paradigms beyond the current hospital-based health care regime because the hospitals - which are already stretched to limits - will not be able to handle the increase in ageing population. Current partner countries in the initiative include Australia, France, Greece, Korea, Taiwan and the USA, with more to join soon.

Aims and results of various current European ehealth projects will also be presented. Among them, projects dealing with new generation telemedicine services for home care (Interlife), mobilisation and accessibility planning for people with disabilities (Mapped), context-aware business application service co-ordination in mobile computing environments (Cascom), and support for health care professionals in reducing risk management in their daily practice by building knowledge driven and dynamically adaptive networked communities within European health care systems (Cocoon). Two projects will even conduct full scale workshops at Med-e-Tel presenting their achievements so far and demonstrating pilot applications. The first one is Healthware, a standard and interoperable satellite solution to deploy health care services over wide areas. The second one is Doc@Hand knowledge sharing and decision support for health care professionals.

The role of advanced technology in global health care challenges and opportunities will be addressed by the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), an element of the US Army. This session will cover implementation of broadband networks, mobile solutions, operational standards, environmental sensors and telemedicine technologies.

The Luxembourg CRP-Santé, Institute for Research in Healthcare, Public Health and Biotechnology, will conduct a regional symposium at Med-e-Tel, focusing on how IT services at the patient's disposal will lead to new solutions and new strategies for hospitals, mutualities - health care insurance providers - and the industry. The symposium will see Luxembourg Minister of Health, Mars Di Bartolomeo, provide an overview of current realizations and future projects in this field. Several business cases, presented by industry leaders like IBM, Telindus and Selligent, will illustrate successful applications in automated appointment booking, on-line consultation of electronic patient records, CRM, telemonitoring, RFID, mobile applications, electronic signatures, and health portals. The symposium will show how IT services change the way hospital departments and mutualities are run and how they interact with the outside world.

A returning topic at Med-e-Tel is the one of "eHealth for Developing Countries". eHealth is an important tool to cope with the specific health care problems that exist in the developing world: shortage of qualified doctors and specialists, AIDS/HIV pandemic, etc. Previous Med-e-Tel editions already saw participants from El Salvador to Tanzania and from Zambia to Indonesia gaining a wealth of information at the event. The 2006 session is set to attract once again a large number of stakeholders from developing countries, and will be chaired by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth (ISfTeH) representatives, who are all at the forefront of telemedicine and ehealth implementation in the developing world. Also the role of satellite communication and space-based technology applications in health care, especially for developing countries and for remote and isolated areas, will be explored in a session co-ordinated by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

The above conference sessions will be complemented with various additional sessions on the topics of tele-education, disease surveillance, electronic records and data transmission, health care challenges, telecardiology and practical telemedicine and ehealth applications in several other medical disciplines.

The Med-e-Tel exhibition floor will showcase medication compliance products, home telehealth and vital sign monitoring systems and services, clinical software packages, electronic medical records, results of telemedicine and ehealth projects, and much more. Med-e-Tel also presents a media corner where information will be provided about some 30 publications, magazines, journals, reports and on-line news and information services in the fields of telemedicine and ehealth.

In short, Med-e-Tel offers unique opportunities to discover products, services and innovative technologies, to gather updated information through the extensive conference programms, network with contacts from around the world, and establish new partnerships. Details and information about the conference sessions, companies and organisations that will be featured at this year's Med-e-Tel are available at the Med-e-Tel Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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