Interview with Stein Olav Skrøvseth. Centre Director for Norwegian Centre for E-health Research

Norwegian Centre for E-health Research co-organizes European Telemedicine Conference (ETC) in Oslo, a large combined conference which assembles the best people from the European e-health and telemedicine environments.

Interview with Stein Olav Skrøvseth. Centre Director for Norwegian Centre for E-health Research

Olav Skrøvseth
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Norwegian Centre for E-health Research co-organizes European Telemedicine Conference (ETC) in Oslo, a large combined conference which assembles the best people from the European e-health and telemedicine environments. 

As the director of the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research, appointed this year, what are your main objectives in the short and medium term?

The Norwegian Centre for E-health Research is a newly established independent research institution whose mission is to support a knowledge-based development in the e-health field. We are a research and analysis centre for e-health, including telemedicine. Our short-term goal is to establish ourselves as a national knowledge institution in e-health useful to the entire health and care sector; in the long term we are going to be a leading research centre establishing ourselves at the forefront of research internationally and nationally.

 

What are the top projects that are currently being developed at the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research?

As a centre we receive yearly assignments from the Norwegian Directorate of eHealth based on the sector’s needs for knowledge when deploying and developing e-health on the national level. Examples of such tasks are analyzing models for monitoring of e-health deployment, or evaluation research on deployment of e-health projects in connected home care. In addition to these national assignments, we have many research projects initiated by researchers and funded by national, international or regional funding agencies.

 

It is important that ETC connect all the different pieces of the community

 

In your opinion, what is the situation of the e-health deployment in Norway compared to other European countries?

Norway was early in the digitalization of health care, particularly with deployment of EHR systems in both primary and specialist care. This means that the adoption rates are very high at the same time as there are challenges relating to interoperability and communication between different levels of the health care sector. In addition, citizens’ adoption of digital tools is very quick – leading to new possibilities of interaction with the health care service, and not least high expectations for digital solutions. The patient’s healthcare is an emerging principle behind the politics of health care in Norway, and the country have taken important steps to increase governance and structure to the e-health field, in particular by establishing a separate Directorate of e-health. This development is guided by the vision of “One citizen – one health record” as formulated in a 2012 government whitepaper with universal political support.

 

How could e-health help make the healthcare system more efficient and effective?

There are many ways in which efficiency and effectiveness can be achieved through e-health, though in many cases more research is needed to establish whether it actually lead to improved outcomes and under which circumstances. One obvious example is connected home care, which enables citizens to live at home longer, increasing the quality of life while at the same time reducing the burden on the healthcare system. There is also big hope and interest in the use and processing of large data that can enable decision support for both providers and patients. These technologies are rapidly maturing, and the hope is that this will lead to, e.g., better outcomes, improved self-care or prevention of adverse events.

 

The Norwegian Centre for E-health Research organizes the European Telemedicine Conference (ETC) next November in Oslo. What are we going to see there?

ETC is co-hosted with the E-health in Norway (EHIN) and together we present seven tracks with over 100 speakers from all over Europe and the US. The large combined conference assembles the best people from the European e-health and telemedicine environments for two intense and fun days of hard work, discussion, networking and learning. 

We are particularly proud to present this year’s ETC scientific track. This year is the second time we run a scientific track as part of ETC. The track has proven popular with almost 80 submissions, many with high quality and relevant perspectives. We find the research track to be a very valuable addition to the conference. As we had an overwhelming response to the scientific track, the selection of abstracts is the best update on the latest telemedicine research you will get this year. 

The processing of large data that can enable decision support for both providers and patients

 

In addition, we are also presenting a diverse discussion program with many highly interesting issues and debate themes in the field of telemedicine. Amongst other things, we will dig deeper into the challenges of validation of health apps with the European Commission’s Terje Peetso, the European Parliament’s Michal Boni and Mobile World’s Joan Cornet. We also ask ‘how can the value of telemedicine be assessed to produce a basis for decision-making” when discussing how and why we should do evaluation of telemedicine?

From UPMC Pittsburg Dr. Ravi Ramani and Dr. Andrew Watson will come together with Telecare Nord’s - Kuno Kudajewski and NHS 24’s Michelle Brogan to debate the question: What are the success factors for large-scale remote monitoring projects? 

 

What is needed in order to improve the deployment of the telemedicine in the European health systems?

The field of telemedicine and e-health has in many ways been characterized by many small-scale solutions that have failed to achieve wide spread adoption. There is a need for financial models that facilitate the use of e-health, as well as an improved evidence base of its benefits. There are many examples of ambitious programs that have failed in large-scale deployment, and we need to learn from these to gain knowledge on how to best improve deployment. 

 

What are you expectancies for this next ETC?

We expect to bring together a wide community of partners, stakeholders, researchers and decision makers interested in telemedicine and e-health solutions such that we can foster an international collaboration within the community. It is important that ETC connect all the different pieces of the community.

 

ETC 2016: The biggest telemedicine event of the year

November 15th and 16th, the European Telemedicine Conference is co-organized with EHiN Future Health (E-health in Norway) in Oslo, Norway. This large conference assembles the best people from the European e-health and telemedicine environments for two intense and fun days of hard work, discussion, networking and learning. 

 

Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services opens the event

EHiN and ETC is this fall’s best opportunity to meet your fellow European telemedicine enthusiasts, and get an update on rapidly developing e-health systems in Europe. The joint conferences present 7 tracks and more than 100 speakers from all over Europe and the United States. “This is an arena to discuss the amazing possibilities that lie within use of new technologies in the health care sector”, says Bent Høie, Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services. He will officially open the event November 15th. 

 

Great debates and interesting workshops 

ETC offers among other things, debates that will dig deeper into the challenges of validation of mHealth apps with EU commission’s Terje Peetso, EU Parliament’s Michal Boni and Mobile World’s Joan Cornet. You can also meet Dr. Andrew Watson from UPMC Pittsburg and Microsoft’s Elena Bonfiglioni in the debate Transformation of Healthcare. Through workshops, ETC will give you a better knowledge and understanding of patients’ digital access to their health record “A service for all” and an introduction to Momentum: 18 critical success factors for deploying telehealth services in real life. 

 

All-time best scientific track 

The very best research projects in the telemedicine field from Europe is presented in its own track. “We had an overwhelming response to the call for paper to the scientific track, thus the selection of abstracts is the best update on the latest telemedicine research you will get this year. It is the second time we present a scientific track at the ETC, and the scientific track is a very valuable addition to the conference, says Stein Olav Skrøvseth, Centre Director at the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research, this year’s host organization for the ETC.

 Por Jose L. Cánovas