From Chicago to Budapest – Connecting health and healthcare

“European healthcare establishments will be faced with substantial challenges over the next decade, such as significant demographic changes and reduced human resources, forcing European leaders to re-design the European Healthcare landscape.”  So reads the introduction to eHealth Week 2011, a co-location of the European Commission's High Level Ministerial Conference and the World of Health IT Conference & Exhibition in Budapest, Hungary, May 10th through 12th.

imageThe next few weeks will be busy.  First comes Microsoft’s Connected Health Conference taking place in Chicago next week.  I’ll be there meeting with customers and partners and facilitating three different sessions showing how those customers and partners are improving the health of the individuals and populations they serve using Microsoft HealthVault.  We’ll also be taping some future episodes of Microsoft Health Tech Today.  More on that next week.

imageFollowing CHC, I’ll be winging my way to Budapest where I look forward to reconnecting with government and industry officials affiliated with eHealth initiatives in the EU.  We last met at a special event sponsored by the Microsoft Health Users Group (Microsoft HUG) in Brussels last December.  The focus of that event was cloud computing and how the cloud is opening up new, much more flexible, scalable, and affordable ways to solve some of our most pressing collaboration, communication, and data analysis needs in health and healthcare.  It was great to see what customers were already doing by leveraging the cloud, and I fully expect there will be much more progress to report in Budapest.

At our December meeting in Brussels, I particularly enjoyed spending time with Pēteris Zilgalvis, JD.  Mr. Zilgalvis serves as Head of Unit ICT for social challenges information society and media directorate general, for the European Commission. He is an expert on the European Digital Agenda and the future of eHealth. The EU has made a commitment that member nations will provide an eHealth record for all citizens by 2015. Each country will have discretion on exactly how that is done, but cloud computing and personal health records platform solutions such as Microsoft HealthVault will certainly play a role.  Pēteris Zilgalvis will join us once again in Budapest, and I look forward to learning more about what has transpired in the EU since our last meeting.

Also, joining us in Budapest will be Maria Iglesia-Gomez.  Ms. Gomez, who also spoke at our Brussels event is head of unit strategy and analysis, and directorate general for health and consumers, for the European Commission. She has a particular passion for eHealth as a strategy to help seniors live longer, more productive lives. In that regard she and I are very much on the same page.  I think that technology will play a central role in helping seniors age in place and will be increasingly important as a conduit to health information and certain kinds of medical services in the home.

During my time in Budapest we’ll be hosting an executive dinner.  I will also have an opportunity to provide an industry keynote at the World of Health IT meeting, and host a customer event where I hope we will have a lively discussion about progress being made on the eHealth front, and what it is going to take to broaden some of the most promising initiatives in order to reach 2015 consensus goals set by the EU.

I hope to see you next week in Chicago, or perhaps later in Budapest.  And even if you can’t make either event in person, you can keep up by checking back with me here on HealthBlog.

Bill Crounse, MD             Senior Director, Worldwide Health                  Microsoft

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