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MedInfo paper deadline extended

The deadline for submitting papers for the 13th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics, also known as MedInfo 2010, has been extended to Oct. 15. MedInfo 2010, the triennial meeting of the International Medical Informatics Association, is scheduled for Sept. 12-15, 2010, in Cape Town, South Africa.

This will mark the first time a global health IT conference has been held in Africa, and it comes just a few months after South Africa also becomes the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup next June and July (you know, winter in the Southern Hemisphere).

I covered the last two MedInfos, in Brisbane, Australia, in 2007, and in San Francisco in 2004. I had stories to write for months after the fact. I also was the only professional journalist from either North America or Europe to make the long trip to Brisbane, and, if all goes as planned, I expect to be in Cape Town a year from now for all your coverage needs. (Subtle hint.)

September 20, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Peter Murray named acting director of IMIA

The International Medical Informatics Association has named Peter J. Murray as acting executive director. The appointment follows the April 12 death of Executive Director Steven Heusing. (I posted an obituary for Heusing earlier this month.)

Murray, who had been serving as IMIA associate executive director for the last few months, also was the organization’s vice president for strategic planning. He is an independent health informatics and telematics consultant in Nocton, England. He holds a Ph.D. in nursing informatics and educational technology and teaches health informatics at both the University of Winchester (UK) and Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, South Africa.

April 29, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Memorial for Steven Heusing

COACH, Canada’s Health Informatics Association has announced a memorial service for founder Steven Heusing, who died April 12 at the age of 64. Heusing also was executive director of the International Medical Informatics Association.

The service will take place Wednesday at 2 p.m. MDT in Edmonton, Alberta. The COACH site has details.

Dr. Peter Murray, IMIA representative in the UK, informs me that an IMIA announcement about commemorating Heusing is forthcoming.

April 19, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Steven Heusing, IMIA executive director, dies at 64

Canadian medical informaticist Steven Heusing, executive director of the International Medical Informatics Association, died Sunday. He was 64. Mr. Heusing had been in declining health for a number of years and reportedly had had two kidney transplants.

Mr. Heusing, a resident of Edmonton, Alberta, was founding president of COACH, Canada’s Healthcare Informatics Association and co-founder of the Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association (CHITTA), now called ITAC Health. He was editor and publisher of Healthcare Information Management & Communications Canada, the official journal of COACH and ITAC Health.

To recognize his service, COACH established the Steven Heusing Scholarship in 1999 for students in Canadian health informatics or healthcare information management programs.

Current AMIA President Dr. Reinhold Haux, director of the Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics at the University of Braunschweig Institute of Technology and Hannover Medical School in Germany, issued this statement:

Steven Huesing was an outstanding person and professional. As Executive Director of the International Medical Informatics Association, he has for many years provided significant and global contributions to the progress of our field. It is through his tireless work that IMIA has developed into the leading international association that it is today. Since the start of his career, in the 1960s, he has been a pioneer and ambassador to the advancement of computers and information technology in healthcare. Among the many recognitions of his contributions, he was honoured for his exceptional work with the prestigious Canadian Health Informatics Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Additionally, Michael Martineau posted his thoughts on the eHealth Musings blog.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

April 13, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Gates Foundation to fund global informatics training

The American Medical Informatics Association will announce Monday that it has received a $1.2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote health informatics and biomedical education and training worldwide, particularly in developing countries.

This will be the first project of a new program called 20/20, in which the International Medical Informatics Association and its regional affiliates, including AMIA, will attempt to train 20,000 informatics professionals globally by 2020. This is an outgrowth of the AMIA 10×10 program to train 10,000 people in informatics in the U.S. by 2010. IMIA and its partners will discuss details of 20/20 this week at the Wellcome Trust in London.

AMIA will use the Gates Foundation money to develop “scaleable” approaches to e-health education, including a replicable blueprint for training informatics leaders, including physicians, medical records professionals, computer scientists and medical librarians.

“We envision the program will train leaders in low-resource nations by linking them and their institutions to partner institutions affiliated with AMIA to build capacity for managing and improving high-quality, low-cost healthcare in the less-developed economies,” AMIA explains in a statement. AMIA President and CEO Don Detmer, M.D., says this element of 20/20 is aimed at career informaticians “so there won’t be a brain drain.”

Other elements of 20/20 will include individual and degree-track courses at colleges and universities—similar to existing 10×10 curriculum—and skills training, not necessarily specific to medical informatics. “We’re also looking at ways of creating seminars and executive training for people to advocate for this in their home countries,” Detmer says.

Detmer, who is retiring at the end of the year, says the skills training will happen in “bits and bites” to help build incremental capacity in the global e-health workforce. Some planning in this area has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of a $500,000 grant the charity gave to AMIA to lead one of the Making the eHealth Connection conferences last summer in Bellagio, Italy.

The 20/20 program is chaired by N.T. Cheung, head of IT for the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. Other confirmed or likely participating organizations include the European Federation for Medical Informatics, the Asia Pacific Association for Medical Informatics and the Health Informatics Society of Australia.

December 7, 2008 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Global health 2.0

I don’t want to jump on any bandwagons just yet, since plenty of what I’ve seen in health 2.0 so far is bluster. Sure, there are some interesting ideas, but whether they actually help in the provision of care remains to be proven. I am a big fan of disclosure, however, and I am becoming a big fan of social networking. The latter has helped me reconnect with several people I’d lost touch with.

On that note, here are a couple of interesting links I picked up recently:

A hospital rating site in Ireland called RateMyHospital.ie seems to be attracting a lot of activity. As of this writing, the counter indicates that 9,896 surveys have been completed. I’m not sure when the site started, but we’re talking about a country with just 4.2 million people.

RateMyHospital is part of a privately run site called IrishHealth.com, which looks to have all the trappings of a WebMD or Revolution Health, from consumer health information to personal health records. I don’t know the PHR usage rate, but let’s assume it’s low.

As Facebook continues to explode in popularity, so does the number of groups related to health IT. The latest one I’ve come across is the IMIA group. So far, it only has 23 members, including a high school student from Egypt and a healthy contingent from Argentina.

January 4, 2008 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

MedInfo coverage


After a week of pressing deadlines and erratic sleep courtesy of the worst case of jet lag I’ve ever encountered, I’ve finally collected my thoughts and my wits, and am ready to post a few things from MedInfo 2007 and related conferences.

I thought I’d start by posting links to some of the stories I’ve written from my trip to Australia. I have a couple of podcasts to post as well, plus some more writing to do, but here’s something. I was the only full-time journalist from either North America or Europe at MedInfo, so I’m using that to my advantage. (If there’s any editor out there still interested in coverage, I’m listening. I have nearly 500 poster presentations to draw on, to give you an idea of the breadth of material available.)

From Digital HealthCare & Productivity

“Optimism Marks Opening of the MedInfo 2007″ (Aug. 21)
My report of the keynote address by Sir Muir Gray, NHS director of clinical knowledge.

“A Tale of RHIO Success” (Aug. 21)
I travel all the way to Australia to report on Winona Health in Minnesota.

“Kolodner Says U.S. Will Reach Pres. Bush’s 2014 EHR Goal” (Aug. 28)
My coverage of Dr. Robert Kolodner’s keynote address to MedInfo, with snippets from the interview he gave me.

“Shortage of Health-IT Workers Is Limiting Progress” (Aug. 28)
News of a collaboration between the International Medical Informatics Association and the World Health Organization, based on my interview with officials of both organizations and their presentations to MedInfo.

“Grappling with the Softer Side of Health-IT” (Sept. 5)
This is another exclusive: my coverage of the ITHC 2007: the Third International Conference on Information Technology in Health Care: Socio-technical
Approaches
, a small, focused meeting held in Sydney a week after MedInfo.

“Reporter’s Notebook: From the Land Down Under” (Sept. 5)
Exactly what it sounds like.

From E-Health Insider and EHealth Europe

“IMIA and WHO to ‘revitalise relationships'” (Aug. 23)
Another take, in more depth, of the IMIA-WHO collaboraton.

“Wireless solutions simplify communication” (Aug. 31)
I look at creative applications of wireless technology in Denmark and Austria.

September 9, 2007 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.