Medical response to Hurricane Katrina focus of 2006 European eHealth Conference and Exhibition
Global leaders from government and industry reflect on 2005, highlight future challenges in e-based healthcareNew York, NY, May 22, 2006 – The creation of electronic medical records in the wake of Hurricane Katrina serves as a model for utilization of e-Health technology in future U.S. emergencies, according to a panel of industry experts and government officials who met recently at the 2006 European eHealth Conference and Exhibition in Malaga, Spain. The panel discussed the use of medical records after Katrina as a "best practice" for improving the way information is delivered to patients and health professionals, enhancing prevention efforts, and reducing pressure on healthcare systems.
A major point of discussion during the conference was the application of eHealth tools for data collection and analysis. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Alex Azar presented a case study on utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) after Hurricane Katrina, in which medical personnel developed electronic health cards to provide a more accurate assessment of Gulf-area residents' health status and to facilitate rapid reporting of individual medical records.
The panel also focused on the myriad global challenges facing eHealth – and healthcare in general – as well as other issues, such as interoperability of non-compatible technology, highly sophisticated portable/implantable devices, and new health-related mobile information platforms. Panel members agreed that the challenges most likely to affect eHealth professionals in the coming years would be:
- Rising demands for healthcare in the face of increased budget constraints
- The aging population
- The need for increased mobility
- Competing interests between global industrial and commercial economies
To meet these challenges, experts recommended deploying eHealth services across the internal borders of the healthcare sector and adapting eHealth tools to satisfy global information needs.
Nearly 200 constituents from government and the health and IT industries, representing many countries, including the United States and Canada, convened at the 2006 European eHealth Conference and Exhibition on May 10 through 12 to share best practices, introduce new technology and shape policy decisions in e-based healthcare. Conceived in 2003 as an exchange platform for participating members to learn about eHealth policies in different European regions, the annual eHealth Conference developed through a partnership among the European Commission, the Austrian Presidency of the European Union, the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, and the Andalusian Regional Ministry of Health.
About the eHealth Conference
In the last 15 years, eHealth, also known as the application of information and communication technologies to the area of health, has become a priority within the digital strategy of the European Union. Since 2003, the European Commission has strongly supported the organization of a high-level conference on eHealth aimed at strengthening the exchange of knowledge and experiences among top politicians and IT and health experts. With this, the 2006 eHealth Conference held in Malaga May 10 through 12 joins the successes celebrated in 2003 (Brussels, Belgium), 2004 (Cork, Ireland) and 2005 (Tromoso, Norway).
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