Last week, the openEHR International Conference was held in Barcelona with the theme “No time to waste: building the lifelong, patient-centric EHR.”, bringing together around 300 attendees, including healthcare professionals, medical informatics experts, care providers, researchers, authorities, regulators, and service provider organisations. The goal of the event was to raise awareness about the current state of semantic interoperability and continue the discussions initiated during the HIGHmed Symposium in Berlin in October 2021.
The conference featured a diverse program of presentations and discussions throughout the day. Following the welcome from our Catalan hosts: Xavier Pastor, Former Chief Medical Information Officer at Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and Pol Pérez Sust, Director of Information Systems at Catalan Health Service, Rachel Dunscombe, Co-chair at openEHR International Board and Chief Industry Advisor at Dedalus gave the opening keynote on building the third generation EHR.
This was followed by a technical approach towards building the lifelong patient-centric EHR, featuring Ian McNicoll, CEO at freshEHR, John Meredith, Assistant Chief Architect at Digital Health and Care Wales, and Paul Miller, Clinical Informatics Lead at NHS Education for Scotland.
After a coffee break, the conference continued with sessions focusing on experiences from around the world, with speakers from Better, Karolinska University Hospital, Karkinos Healthcare, NHS Education for Scotland and ‘Hospital 12 de Octubre’ in Madrid.
Stefan Schraps, VP of Business and Community Management at Vitagroup, rounded off the morning with an industry keynote on the subject of standards wars.
The afternoon sessions delved into the origins and future of openEHR, Thomas Beale, VP of Informatics at Graphite Health, and David Ingram, Emeritus Professor of Health Informatics at UCL and President at openEHR Foundation.
Thomas shared his thoughts on the future of health IT computing as a knowledge-based, model-based, openEHR approach, by ‘taking hidden semantics out of the software, creating a services based platform, creating and deploying components, to represent and track care pathways’.
David highlighted the importance of collaboration and the ‘role of pioneers who had staying power’, stating there are “no right or wrong answers; problems change as you try to solve them’. David also made reference to the upcoming publication of his book – ‘Health Care in the Information Society’ – before the discussion shifted to ‘Building the Ecosystem’, with speakers from Oslo University Hospital, openEHR Netherlands, UNA, and the Swedish Medical Informatics Association.
Joost Holslag, Clinical Program Board Co-chair at openEHR international and board member of openEHR Netherlands, even managed to introduce a little philosophy to his presentation, with a reference to a neon sign he’d seen when he arrived in the city. “Is it karma?’ indeed….
Tomaž Gornik, CEO at Better and Co-chair at openEHR International, presented an industry keynote speech, focusing on the importance of collaboration. “The way to disrupt the market is to join together; many partners can eat big fish.” but gave kudos to our industry partner, EY as ‘the first to clearly say that openEHR is the only standard built specifically for persistence of digital data”
The day concluded with an industry panel discussing the view of the industry, featuring speakers from Ocean Health System, MongoDB, and Veratech. Seref Arikan, Technical lead at Ocean, focused on the CKM, which underpins the international archetype governance and publication effort.
“In Spain, normally we flee after lunch!” was Jordi Piera’s opening line for the conference’s closing session, making reference to the number of attendees who had stayed to the very end of a long, but eventful and insightful day. As Director of the Digital Health Strategy Office at Catalan Health Service, he painted a vibrant picture of a ‘new smart EHR’ for Spain before drawing the whole event to a close.
With a greater sense of understanding and accomplishment, attendees bid farewell to the openEHR Conference, taking away with them many new contacts, thoughts and even a new hoodie. It was a great event, a meeting of minds and a platform for our diverse stakeholders to discuss and explore the development of patient-centric electronic health records, the need for semantic interoperability and collaboration in the healthcare industry.
Check out the entire day in just one minute:
The final word goes to Paul Miller, Clinical Informatics Lead at NHS Education for Scotland and Co-chair and Clinical Program Board at openEHR International…
‘Hang in there. It can be confusing. It is a profound change in the way health systems are built. Don’t get disheartened… you are on the right path.’
A recording of the entire day’s presentations and speeches can be viewed on youtube