The Wizards of Oz!

Over the years I’ve met a number of Australian health informatics specialists while working in the UK and I’ve always been impressed by their apparent ability to cope with any challenge! But I’ve never had first hand exposure to the Australian health system and the state of informatics – I had the opportunity to change this last October when we visited eastern seaboard to meet up with some companies and individuals.

Happily I also registered for the Health Data Analytics conference in Brisbane. My hope was that it would give me insight into the Australian health informatics scene and current projects. It did that and more!

As I’d hoped a broad range of analytics projects were presented but in addition I noted some really excellent sessions – highlights for me were:

  • the sessions on Precision Medicine with an excellent key note by Eric Dishman, Director of the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program (USA), on the US initiative and, elsewhere on the program, a fascinating talk on moving the IT underpinning genomics services into the “cloud”;
  • a masterclass and sessions on FHIR which moved my understanding on in leaps – I’d come across it as a new technology for interoperability but not had the opportunity to understand it in detail. It was great to have Grahame Grieve, the inventor of FHIR, in the audience to contribute;
  • an inspiring masterclass and sessions from the team at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, on their Cerner deployment and approach to using data to support quality healthcare and research. Their enthusiasm and determination to achieve their vision was inspiring.

Although the australian health system is smaller than the UK’s, spending slightly more as a %age GDP (9.4 vs 9.1%, WHO 2014) on a GDP that is about 60% the size, there is a lot of innovative thought and good science being done. I look forward to tracking progress over the next couple of years and I can strongly recommend the conference and our australian colleagues in the HISA.


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