What are the opportunities for the use of new technology to improve health and healthcare? That was the focus of the 38th World Hospital Congress taking place this week in Oslo, Norway. The Congress was held under the auspices of the International Hospital Federation and hosted by the Norwegian Hospital and Health Service Association. NSH president, Erik K. Normannn (right), and his organizing committee did an outstanding job attracting in excess of 1100 conference attendees from more than 40 countries around the globe.
The opening ceremony on Monday featured among other speakers, Jonas Gahr Støre, Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services. Minister Støre is an eloquent speaker who inspired the audience by reminding us that a nation’s wealth is the health of its citizens. Having some time ago won the battle against infectious diseases in industrialized nations, we are now fighting chronic, mostly preventable conditions. This battle must be fought not only in our hospitals and clinics, but primarily at every level of society and community with an emphasis on education and personal responsibility.
Also attending the World Hospital Congress opening ceremony was His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway (left). After the opening ceremony concluded, Prince Haakon made rounds in the conference exhibition hall where I had an opportunity to engage him in some good conversation about ways to improve health and healthcare delivery through greater use of information communication technology (ICT).
During my stay in Norway my Microsoft colleague, Jan Rylund (seen far right above), and I attended a number of side meetings with press, healthcare executives and public officials. One of my most interesting meetings was with the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services. I met with Director General, Ole T. Anderson, and his team at the Ministry offices in Oslo. There, I learned about an ambitious initiative that is underway in Norway. Over the next few years Norway hope to achieve “one patient, one medical record” for every citizen in the country. After listening to staff detail the program I offered the following advice based on observations I’ve made about similar projects as I’ve traveled the world these past few years:
- Don’t try to “boil the ocean”. Stay very focused.
- Start with a limited data set (demographic information, payer information, medical problem list, medication list, allergies).
- Aggregate data around each citizen as he or she moves through the ecosystem of care. In other words, put patients at the center.
- Give citizens control over their own health data, including the ability to share it with whomever needs to have it be that a medical provider, family member or other caregiver.
- Give citizens an option to “opt out” of the program if they do not wish to participate.
- Study cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft HealthVault and use this as a good model or template for whatever you might build or buy.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel.
This afternoon I will deliver a keynote address at the World Hospital Congress on future healthcare and ICT. Joining me on stage will be Dr. Helge Stene-Johansen, Director of Organizational Development, for the Sykehus Østfold Hospital Trust. Dr. Stene-Johansen will share information about a new hospital his organization is building. It opens in 2015 and promises to be state-of-the-art in the use of information technology and healing environments.
I’d like to thank my Norwegian hosts, Jan Rylund, Lars Nakkerad, and Microsoft public sector lead, Dagfinn Kolstad, and also our Western Europe public sector health team members, Elena Bonfiglioli and Vincent Dupont, for their many contributions during my stay in Norway. Also a big thank you to the organizing committee for the World Hospital Congress. You produced an enlightening and very enjoyable conference.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft