Athens, 7 November 2016. One forum in two venues for two days – 170 speakers from 21 countries, hundreds of delegates and visitors, 15 municipalities, 15 European projects, 41 sessions, workshops, panels, presentations and open discussions brought healthcare and technology stakeholders, researchers, entrepreneurs and representatives of local government to the table to share the results of their work and explore ways of cooperation. These are the numbers that defined this year’s eHealth Forum + Festival which wrapped up this year’s events at Megaron International Conference Center and Technopolis City of Athens, Wednesday night, October 26.
Behind the very positive numbers lies substance in line with this year’s motto “eHealth catalyst of reform – enabler of growth” as the Forum truly became the meeting point of stakeholders and governments with expertise in the field of digital health.
The impressive strides in technology and further development of Big Data, artificial intelligence and new wearables lead to a new reality paving the way for radical changes in healthcare, while at the same time reducing costs and helping to change perception and behavior of all relevant players (patients + doctors + researchers + insurance + state). Remarking on the importance of the eHealth Forum + Festival, John Crawford, Healthcare Industry Leader, Europe, IBM Industry Academy Member, wrote: “The eHealth Forum provided a great opportunity to understand recent progress with eHealth in Europe, and to re-imagine our future care systems with real experts.” The possibilities to analyse massive amounts of biomedical data, genetics and other clinical and laboratory data opens a new perspective in prevention and care which will lead to a complete reinvention of healthcare.
There was a great interest in the developments of Telemedicine, where important new practices and ongoing projects were presented, and there was a public discussion on the future of telemedicine in Greece as this technology provides direct service to citizens and helps improve the quality and access to healthcare services. Dr. Alexander Berler, Chair of the Organising Committee and Chair of HL7 Hellas said “The eHealth Forum in Athens is the new meeting place for ehealth in Southeastern Europe, gathering experts and decision makers from more than 21 countries.”
During the eHealth Forum, key stakeholders from the European Commission, among them the Commissions’ head of eHealth Mr. Miguel González-Sancho, leading innovation companies like IBM and Microsoft, municipalities and government agencies, research centers and digital health ecosystems had the chance to present and analyze, each from their own unique perspective, the major issues they face and share their knowledge and experience. It was a common conclusion that if eHealth applications are to make a real impact they need to address real needs of everyday life, the needs of citizens and patients, the needs of doctors and healthcare professionals, the needs of the state and the needs of the economy.
During the Festival, the parallel forum event at Technopolis City of Athens, hundreds of visitors had the chance to see first-hand how technology will affect their health and wellbeing as 26 startups from 7 countries and research centers presented innovative projects and services that can change our everyday lives. Among the crowd pleasers were robots that take care of senior citizens, a vehicle you can drive with your mind for people with kinetic difficulties, an app that scans your food and other products for toxic and harmful chemicals, solutions for recognizing and delaying symptoms of dementia, platforms for finding a doctor and social networking for patients dealing with similar conditions.
At the end of the two days it was evident the eHealth Forum met its goal of making the city of Athens a hub for digital health business and stakeholder cooperation for Southeastern Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean and presenting the possibilities and practical applications of eHealth to patients, citizens and consumers. The eHealth Forum really did become a catalyst that facilitated the development of new partnerships and collaborations between Greek and international stakeholders. The eHealth Forum + Festival put Greece on the map of eHealth and this was reflected in part by the encouraging impressions expressed by the leading eHealth international and local experts who were part of this year’s initiative and definitively by their immediate interest to be a part of the initiative going forward to eHealth Forum 2017.