Organised by the Association of Providers of IT Solutions for Healthcare (Verband der Hersteller von IT-Lösungen für das Gesundheitswesen – VHitG), and Mesago Messe Frankfurt, exhibitors at the forum increased by 25% over 2005 (250 this year)’ the exhibition space increased by 44%, and visitors rose from 3,215 to 3,678. ‘We not only wanted to expand the product showcase but, more importantly, the ITeG professional sessions,’ Dr Wolrad Rube, chairman of the VHitG, explained. Consequently, an Advisory Board representing diverse user organisations was appointed, which turned the event in to a forum for medical controllers, IT directors in the clinical, nursing and care sector, and surgery-based physicians.
Along with presentations and discussions, new this year were the ITeG Warm-up Sessions, held every morning before the trade show opening, to provide a compact overview of new solutions, developments and products. The fact that the ITeG and hospital information systems (HIS) meeting took place simultaneously considerably increased the number of qualified visitors, Dr Rube added.
Parallel with the ITeG, the 11th meeting of the HIS working party of the German Society for Medical Computer Science, Biometrics and Epidemiology (GMDS) and the Association of Medical Computer Scientists (BVMI) took place, in the usual format of presentations, workshops, etc, and providing case studies, concrete current information and problem-solving discourse. New reimbursement schemes with expanded documentation requirements, close co-operation between hospital and doctors surgeries, and the move among hospitals towards becoming integrated health service providers, are just a few current trends in the German healthcare landscape.
The introduction of patients’ electronic health cards is a daunting task for the HIS, underlining its strategic importance. At the event, an electronic physician’s letter, developed by the VHitG initiative Cross-sectoral communication, was demonstrated for the first time, live and several times daily, to show its transfer between IT systems in a doctor’s office to a HIS, on a shared network, crossing traditional sector boundaries, speeding workflow and online communication.
The VHitG annual award - This was presented to the Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bottrop for its IT concept for digital clinical pathways that always encompass a standard and a deviation. With systematic standardisation and optimisation, Bottrop hospital management has achieved a 2-day reduction in the average length of stay.
Radiology - In Germany, it has been estimated that only 20% of hospitals with dedicated radiology departments have an integrated RIS/PACS - a poor contrast with other EU countries. At this year’s German Congress of Radiology - held just one week before the IteG - visitors’ interest in this issue was somewhat disappointing.
ITeG 2007 - This will take place in Berlin (17-19 April) at the same time as the eHealth Europe Congress 2007 and the national Telemed.
Despite growth in all areas, if it wants to leave its niche and appeal to a wider audience, ITeG will have to position itself more distinctly between the German Congress of Radiology and Medica, which is, and will remain, a top venue for IT solutions for healthcare.
In addition, as far as RIS/PACS solutions are concerned, Germany’s radiology congress provides the added value of showcasing all state-of-the-art modalities. In this country, investments in RIS/PACS enjoy a higher priority than the modernisation of administrative systems, because these are the pillars of future-oriented and image-based communications structures across all departments.