Steve Lieber
"We need to play in helping the practitioners improve their knowledge and expertise in the area of mHealth." H. Stephen Lieber is President and CEO of HIMSS WorldWide. Photo: Ard Jongsma / HIMSS HIMSS Europe

(HealthTech Wire / Interview) - H. Stephen Lieber, President and CEO of HIMSS WorldWide, the enterprise arm of the HIMSS organisation, explains the aims of the new global push by HIMSS on mobile (m)Health - and how Europe is a key part of this strategy.

How does HIMSS define mHealth, Mr Lieber?

Mobile Health is a very broad term that can encompass any number of components, from mobile devices such as a smart phone or tablet to applications that are used by clinicians to review patient information from remote locations, all the way out to telehealth, which is the actual provision of healthcare across distances. All of those definitions fall under our category of mobile or mHealth. This is probably the biggest growth area in health technology right now - and so as the global organisation most focused on thought leadership and knowledge exchange around health information technology, we need to play in helping the practitioners improve their knowledge and expertise in the area of mHealth.

What do you see as the shape of mHealth right now in Europe? Do you see it as, for instance, behind the US - or on a par with developments there?

In terms of use, I think it is equivalent. In the US, for instance, as it has a larger local technology industry perhaps, you see a lot more app development. You also see early stage start-up activity in the US, as in dedicated mHealth vendors starting to get founded. Nonetheless, when it comes to use of mHealth, globally no one geography is ignoring mHealth. Actually, perhaps in some places in Europe, because of not having the same history as the United States and of huge investment in legacy stationary technology, there are places where you see a quicker adoption of mobile technology.

HIMSS has been helping health IT stakeholders understand mHealth for a while. What's the new activity here? Can you tell us about that?

We started a conference a few years ago in the United States that has been very successful. So building off of that experience, we are now embarking upon an mHealth initiative on a global basis. For example, at the end of October in Edinburgh, we had a telehealth conference that was really the first time major organisations have come together to present a significant event around telehealth/telemedicine in Europe. To keep up the momentum, next May (2014) we’re announcing the first European mHealth Summit, in Berlin. We are also looking at mobile health either in collaboration with existing conferences in the Middle East, or, in the case of Asia, a standalone mHealth Summit. In fact, the ‘mHealth Summit’ will be overall brand in the US, Europe and Asia - and as we see over time the expansion of interest and focus on mobile health in other parts of the globe, we will be doing standalone events elsewhere, too.

What is the objective for the Berlin event, specifically?

To focus on education more specifically around mobile technology, which has always been a subject in other HIMSS events, but just one of many. So the objective here is to focus attention on the subject and to bring the audience most involved in mobile health and mobile health technology together.

How will it compare with other HIMSS events?

Just like our recent Madrid CIO Summit showed, stakeholders can expect a world-class faculty, many examples of best practices, case studies, all designed to bring the community together to network and learn from one another. So delegates can look, once again, to network with and meet face to face key mHealth industry participants and fellow explorers: you're going to see representatives of the supplier, research and user communities there.

So, to sum-up, Berlin is going to be a key event in understanding where we are going with mobile health in Europe?

For practitioners, Berlin is where you can expect to see the very latest mHealth technology, as well as explore the connection between that new technology and existing solutions. Berlin will also be a great opportunity to get examples of real life hospital mobile experiences - with the aim of learning from both successes and failures - we learn from both, after all. In Berlin's case specifically, an international panel of top experts will be sharing true thought leadership on a range of topics, from how to use mobile to deliver better elderly care, manage chronic disease better, implement mobile Health in our daily lives and so on. Meanwhile, for our commercial partners, Berlin will be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate solutions in front of a very interested, highly focused audience. They can look to showcase solutions, for example, in our dedicated application area pavilions, such as the chronic care, games or wearable technology pavilions, among others. All in all, it's becoming clear that the mHealth Summit next May really will be the focal point for mHealth activities right across Europe.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr Lieber!

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