Barcelona, 6 July 2021
Global, not-for-profit organisation European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance) welcomed various digital health players to the stage at the annual Digital Health & Wellness Summit (DHWS21) at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 4 Years From Now (4YFN).
The DHWS21 allows stakeholders from all health ecosystems to come together and exchange ideas and conversations about the most relevant opportunities and challenges in digital health. Patients, start-ups, governments, investors, researchers, pharmaceuticals, hospitals and multinational companies converge in Barcelona for the 3-day, session-packed event.
This year, the DHWS21 hosted leading companies and organisations like BIOME by Novartis, Ferrer, Grupo DKV, the Catalan Health Services (Government of Catalonia), EIT Health, the NHS Digital Academy and many more. The participation of such important figures demonstrated the digital health community’s desire to progress the digital transformation currently occurring worldwide.
More importantly, the in-person event shined a light of optimism on the real possibility of normalcy in a post-pandemic world. While the MWC and 4YFN recorded lower numbers of attendees due to the global health crisis, the most recent figures from the DHWS21 revealed that interest in discovering the latest in digital health remains at an all-time high. The DHWS21 accommodated more than 450+ people, with additional spectators even watching from outside of the main speaking area.
The Digital Health & Wellness Summit organised a diverse line-up of speakers and sessions to cover the most relevant topics, including COVID-19, data space, blockchain, artificial intelligence and mental health. Leading the event was the charismatic Board Director of ECHAlliance and The Digital Health Society, Julien Venne.
In matters related to COVID-19, high-level experts presented innovations designed in response to the pandemic. These solutions included teleconsultations, remote monitoring, medical imaging diagnoses based on artificial intelligence, tracking apps, and more. As the panelists highlighted, these digital and record-time undertakings allude to the global vision of digital health and its deployment within the coming months and years. At the same time, the panelists underpin the empowered role of the citizen and patient in data collection and management as a result of the health crisis.
In other sessions, attendees heard experts discuss the matter of data as a raw material of the digital transformation. To elucidate understanding, moderator Julien Venne provided an overview of the current data strategies and policies in Europe centred on this particular issue. Examples included priority given to the creation of the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and the establishment of several regulations on data privacy, digital services and markets serving as digital gatekeepers.
The DHWS21 then invited an expert panel discussion of a real-case example of international and open-standard openEHR in Catalonia, Spain. As a member of the ECHAlliance Ecosystem Network, the large European region—as led by the Catalan Health Services—showcased its current digital healthy strategy to develop a novel model of information systems and electronic health records. The 40-million-euro project represents a grand initiative undertaken by a collective group to provide a data-driven health system that confers both benefits and opportunities on each and every stakeholder.
Speakers comprising the panel came from all levels of a health ecosystem, including a policymaker, large IT provider, start-up founder, health professional and patient.
In a more niche workshop on open systems and standard openEHR, invited CIOs and clinical teams from across Catalonia could hear Rachel Dunscombe, CEO of the NHS Digital Academy, present the lessons learnt and experiences acquired in the UK. In agreement, workshop moderator Jordi Piera Jiménez reiterated the point, stating:
We’re [Catalan Health System] in a process of acceleration and we’ll need all stakeholders around us.
DHWS21 moderator Julien Venne responded:
That’s where ECHAlliance comes in. Our role is to connect the dots within our community and deliver that expertise.
Although the event held many insightful sessions, the presentation of innovation hubs/programmes and start-up pitches piqued great interest amongst attendees.
Headline sponsor Novartis presented BIOME, a digital innovation hub/lab dedicated to the design and launch of breakthrough digital solutions, whilst panel sponsor Ferrer described Ferrer4Future, an exciting programme for enhanced management of neurologic conditions.
Complementing these presentations by health companies were effervescent, 5-minute pitches by founders of up-and-coming start-ups. In an exclusive “shark tank” session, founders had to convince digital health experts of the value and impact of their digital offerings in patient care and health systems.
From virtual reality to artificial intelligence to breast cancer detection and digital health companions, the projects were unique and bold. Not even the challenging follow-up questions by the expert panel could waver the flame of entrepreneurial spirit burning in these founders’ hearts.
In final statements, DHWS21 moderator Julien Venne left event visitors with words of encouragement.
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic would result in deaths, overwhelmed health systems, mental health issues and more, it would also fuel the rapid adoption of digital technologies and inspire innovation. As Julien Venne stated:
COVID-19 has been a tragic gamechanger for health & digital health, (…) innovations should help us to build more resilient systems.
The Digital Health & Wellness Summit ‘21 did not only represent an exchange of best practices and progress in digital health. The event underpinned the beginning of a widespread transformation wherein the driving core was the citizen who believed better care was possible.
The ECHAlliance will offer a series of activities and events throughout the year, so check out our website: www.echalliance.com
The ECHAlliance is pleased to invite all digital health innovators to the next Digital Health and Wellness Summit during the next Mobile World Congress / 4 Years From Now beginning 28 February and finishing 3 March 2022.
European Connected Health Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation operating as a Community Interest Company (CIC) registered in the UK in Belfast and a Company Limited by Guarantee in Dublin, Ireland.
Our community of over 16,500 experts – including government, health & social care providers, leading companies and start-ups, researchers, insurances, patient groups and citizens, and the investment community connect through ecosystem meetings (120 per year) and international events and our online platform.
The Digital Health Observatory (DHO) and The Digital Health Society (DHS) movement facilitate and promote the transfer of knowledge, experiences and best practices to foster a community of knowledge in digital health globally.
Our Working Groups provide a platform for stakeholders responsible for a given topic area to meet, promote and advance their work across the ecosystem network, thereby maximising the exchange of knowledge and best practices.
For more information contact Beatriz Sanz, Communications Director.