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 psychological tracker allows family members to rate the patients psychological state too. 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 entrepreneurship 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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4 replies »

  1. Nice summary Matthew. Thank you.
    One aspect of the conference that you didn’t touch upon is the language barrier. See Daniel Ghinn’s (@engagementstrat) great blog for more on this ‘Language barriers create a new digital health divide’ (http://creationinteractive.com/articles/language-digital-health-divide).
    For me, seeing the lens focus on Health 2.0 Europe after watching the action on the US stage for the last few years helped describe Canada’s possible role in the global Health 2.0 movement.
    Canada has the opportunity to be petri dish for discovering and implementing multilanguage/multicultural solutions.
    Any truly successful eHealth solution in our country must consider the needs of a multicultural society. An onerous task to say the least. But our advantage is that this multicultural society is governed by one government. Sure we will have to negotiate the provincial differences, but we will not have to straddle multiple regulatory rules and policies as Europe does.
    Thanks to our long history of bilingulism and multiculturalism, we are familiar with the challenges and benefits of providing information in 2 or more languages and recognizing the importance of cultural sensibilities.
    I hope that Canada will be the torch bearer of multilingual/multicultural eHealth solutions that will empower patients of all cultures in our country and that we can then in turn offer our lessons-learned to other partnerships delivering solutions in multiple languages. I look forward to being a part of this exciting endeavour.

  2. Patient Opinion and iwantgreatcare are interesting developments in the UK, but its National Health Service’s own website, NHS Choices (http://www.nhs.uk), is the main place for patient comments on services. It already allows patients to comment on GP surgeries and hospitals and I think expects to cover all services by the end of this year. The question for NHS organisations and the UK Government is how much they want to promote the service and use this kind of patient feedback to manage the performance of hospitals etc…

  3. Matthew–
    A great post– extremely linteresting. I’ll read the archive of the tweet stream.
    I’m glad to see you taking your show to Europe. As you know, I think that we have much to learn from European health care systems, and I look forward to hearing what they have to say about Health 2.0.
    Finally, Matthew, thank you for highlighting what you saw as “perhaps the most compelling” story at at the conference, “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.”

  4. The pleasure was ours Matthew and to catch you all in one place for nearly two weeks was beyond great as Indu would say. It was an exciting year of preparation and the enthusiasm and support from the participants (and even those who only heard about it secondhand) has been nearly overwhelming. It’s safe to say that Europe surprised not only the Americans but the Brits, I mean, Europeans as well..