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ECHAlliance reports from the European Health Forum Gastein

10 October 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Heather Smith
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Dr Tobias Gantner, who represents the ECHAlliance in Germany attended this long  standing  event. For twenty years in a row leading expert representatives of academics, industry, politics and patient representatives have gathered in the beautiful valley just one hour south of Salzburg to exchange opinions about European healthcare. Three days full of discussion, podium sessions, seminars and of course good Austrian cuisine and hospitality have become the hallmark in many a health care professional’s calendar not just within Europe but across the globe.


This year for the first time there was a pre-conference round table that significant participants of the European healthcare systems attended. It was a hand picked group of opinion leaders coming from governance, politics, industry and academics brought together under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Clemens Martin Auer, the newly appointed president of the European Health Forum. The EHFG Innovation Roundtable also saw the participation of the ECHAlliance represented by Dr. Tobias Gantner.


Robert Madelin, the Chairman of Fipra International hosted the session that all in all 22 persons attended and took on the almost impossible job of giving everyone room to share their opinion and the most relevant issues of innovation in healthcare in all of Europe.


Martin Seychell of DG Sante of the European Commission took the lead and lined out in his keynote presentation the cornerstones of the 150 minute session: Innovation has to be at the center focus of healthcare and then again the focus should always be on the patient rather than on technology only which is often seen in engineers setting the strategy. He also made clear that data need to travel freely also across country borders whereas we would have to consider that digital technology still is very unevenly distributed within the EU. This points to the huge fragmentation of markets which makes is hard for companies and providers to fully exploit the potential. Healthcare will not magically be exempt from digital transformation. In the contrary, an acceleration in interoperability and standardization is direly required. It is clear, we are facing a citizen movement that pushes development of digital solutions in health. For this we need to leverage European instruments and support a data infrastructure. He concluded by pointing out the issues that HTAs bring if they are applied the same way to apps and medical devices such as wearables as they are applied for pharmaceuticals.


Followed impulse speeches by Dr. Jama Natequi, the CEO of Symptoma, acclaimed one of the hottest healthcare startups in all of Europe. Jama made it clear that AI and deep learning is already better in diagnosing than the average GP.


Dr. Aldo Lupo, the President of the European Union of General Practitioners took a stand on the necessity to innovate and digitize also within the ranks of GPs and emphasized not to solely rely on technology.  Gerfried Stocker, the artistic director of Ars Electronica lead the view to the patient and the cultural aspects that healthcare has besides the technology. 


The round was concluded by Maciej Surowiec, Corporate Affairs Manager at Microsoft who pointed out the necessity for data collection and working with big data in healthcare.


More than an hour of intense discussion followed on the round table concluding in the decision that this could only just have been the kick-off of something much bigger that can only be brought to a solution by any single person or institution. In this respect we are looking forward to continuing conversation and potentially also collaboration with this outstanding group of people and the organizations they represent