Health 2.0 Europe–My take

I’m back in San Francisco after a fabulous Health 2.0 Europe Conference in Paris. We were welcomed wonderfully to Europe by our partner Denise Silber, her colleagues at Basil Strategies and all the fabulous people we met there. We’ve since heard lots of great comments and feedback from conference attendees, speakers and sponsors. Going to Paris in the spring sounds like a lot of fun and it is. But putting on any conference is a great deal of hard work, and Indu & I would like to thank Denise and her team (Miles & Rhys), as well as our colleagues Lizzie Dunklee who ran the production and Hillary McCowen who ran registration, sponsorship and front of house. We had help from some great volunteers (thanks for all the coffee Pauline!), excellent simultaneous translation, and Alex, Raphael & Stephane from Image Media did a great job with AV. We even (eventually) tracked down all the IML Voting devices (including the one that went to Boston!).

I’d also like to thank all of our speakers, sponsors and attendees—especially the speakers whom we put through our rigorous demo training program, the sponsors who took a chance on us, and the regional ambassadors and media partners. There were nearly 550 attendees once all was said and done (all squeezed into a venue that seats 500)! We sense that the conference signaled the emergence of a real Health 2.0 community in Europe. Of course all the great work that we demonstrated on stage has been going on for some time, but perhaps this was the first time that it’s been gathered together—not to mention gone drinking at Les Invalides!

So as is almost traditional, here’s a few thoughts from me about my impressions. (By the way, Denise has extensive thoughts over on her blog too).

As ever these are not definitive—there were many many great contributions that I won’t mention for reasons of space, and every speaker worked really hard and contributed to a great conference, but here are a few thoughts that stuck out for me.

1) The Patient Communities panel was fireworks. Indu Subaiya did a masterful job connecting the chronic disease communities of the US (ACOR, PatientsLikeMe) with a great scene setting from Susannah Fox of Pew. But the European side was incredibly strong. PagineMediche.it has been built up by Roberto Ascione and both the tools it offers in patient-physician Q&A and the volume of use it has are terrific. Similarly Christian Angele of imedo shows that while Germany isn’t as far along on the physician side, a combination of community plus the ability to make a physician connection is a very useful service for a significant number of Germans. Finally, not only is iWantGreatCare a fantastic service for both users and provider clients (with fabulous reporting features) but Neil Bacon’s soliloquy about how happier patients lead to happier staff to better clinical results to better outcomes was really masterful. Overall this panel showed just how advanced these patient communities are on both sides of the Atlantic. But Alex Schachinger gave us a cautionary note, especially regarding the role of traditional institutions to say “not yet!”

2) Data needs conversations. This was said on the Tools panel by Roni Zeiger from Google and it’s the title of his piece on the Huffington Post. But Gilles Frydman raised the concept of “numbers versus narrative” and it’s clear with the wealth of data being derived from text that we’ll be making discoveries from both structured data and unstructured text. So in addition “conversations will be creating data”. Soon the lines between the two will blur as search continues to improve. When we turn those data into decisions and decision aids, conversation, narrative and other techniques will be intrinsic parts of the tools needed to support people on their journey to better health.

3) More market less government? Or, More government less market? Imran Hamid from the Department of Health in the UK asked why they Dutch and Danes been successful in rolling out provider based, and now consumer facing, health IT while the British NPfIT was a relative failure. The Dutch answer from Pieter Vos stressed that (carefully structured) competition between insurers and providers worked. The Danish suggestion was that clear, single-threaded government policy and funding was needed. (And to be fair, no American outside Stanford University would regard the Dutch system as untrammeled competition). Either way there are real models in Europe for moving Health IT along and connecting patients and providers. Either way these were three fabulous presentations, with Morten Elbæk Petersen showing the Danes extending their provider based data system first to data presentation and online services for patients and then connecting patients with each other, while the Dutch have released a report on Health 2.0 which will be available in English very soon. The French as ever are taking a different path, but Etienne Caniard gave an exceptional keynote in which he showed that careful consideration of Health 2.0 was getting underway, even though later Laure Albertini from the Paris Public Hospitals got into an interesting and heated discussion about whether it was within their remit to recommend online communities/websites or to extend their definition of ‘medical care”. (I was approached by several French people dissenting heavily from her view point, which suggests rumblings under the surface in France about how much government control is really needed).

4) Some complex tools. I already mentioned iWantGreatCare, and similarly we got a brief demo of the new reporting system for pharma companies looking into PatientsLikeMe data. In the tools arena, sBZ showed a complex patient care tracking system, Isabelle Adenot from the French National Order of Pharmacists showed the Dossier Pharmaceutique system that now links every pharmacy in France—although Isabelle said that her train left the station without the patient PHR as that “track is still being built” in France. Alex Savic showed NextWidgets, a very complete “store in a banner”. Roni Zeiger gave us a glimpse at the next iteration of Google Health (think more reports/charts), while IPPZ demoed Mijn Therapie a very complex patient to therapist asynchronous communication system which is as advanced (if not more so) than anything seen in the US. Both Imperative Health and BIG showed us new European wellness and prevention tools which are going to see their share of competition which will be “localized in” from the US (including UK Preventive Medicine).

5) Some simpler tools. Sometimes there’s no great need for
complexity. PatientOpinion allows people to tell their stories
and allows care provider organizations to respond, it’s not yet had the
impact Paul Hodgkin expects, but little by little service changes are
happening all over the UK, and soon to be in Italy and Spain. Both
Sanitas and Orange showed interesting physician finder services on the
iPhone—both taking advantage of geo-locaters. Also in Launch!
(and the joint winner), Laurent Coussirat’s Mood Institute
includes an online health monitoring tool which allows patients to
daily self-evaluate their mood and describe the context. It also allows a
family member to rate the mood of the patient. It’s a neat little
application that may have big implications. Perhaps the most compelling
story was a simple banner ad on Thomas Skoglund’s Neurosurgic site
which appealed for trainers to go to Ethiopia (population 80 million,
number of neurosurgeons 3). It’s been so successful that the
organization has now asked for the ad to come down. No question that all
over the world, the power of the Internet is to build community—and we
saw that was true about the Haiti story we had at the end of Day 1.
(More coming on that from later),

6) Wrapping it all up there were excellent comments from Annabel Bentley of Bupa (whom I will be forcing to write up her notes as there was lots she didn’t get to say) and Elletra Ronchi from the OECD who clearly thinks that governments and societies can learn from each other. There was certainly lots of interest and no shortage of comments at the end. I sensed a hunger for more, which is great!

We somewhat posited this conference as contrasting the US and Europe, but it’s clear both that technology entrepreneurism is alive and very much kicking in Europe and that the demand for Health 2.0 services is as strong there as anywhere. Of course as was said a couple of times, in general the European health system is not broken, while that’s not true for the US. But clearly big changes in consumer/patient activism are coming.

If you want to read the 100 pages of the tweet stream it’s archived here and it’s fascinating.

We’re thrilled that Health 2.0 Europe went so well and we’re already looking forward to coming back.

CODA: For those of you who say Twitter has no value, drug information site iGuard ran a contest to guess the number of their users, with people sending tweets of their guess. The winner of the iPad signed up for Twitter specially for the contest and has sent one Tweet in their life! Talk about ROI!

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