This month we profile Professor Heiko Spallek who was recently appointed Academic Lead Digital Health and Health Service Informatics for the Faculty of Medicine and Health (FMH). Heiko’s new role is to provide leadership and guidance to ensure that digital health education and training is embedded in all FMH programs. Heiko is also the Head of School and Dean at The University of Sydney School of Dentistry.
Prior to joining the University of Sydney, Professor Spallek served as Associate Dean at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1993, he graduated as DMD from the Humboldt University, Berlin where he continued his career and was appointed in the Department of Periodontology and also received his PhD (dental material sciences). While being appointed at Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, he earned an MSBA (Computer and Information Science) in 2000. Professor Spallek’s research has as its focus in the development of computerised clinical decision support tools—he has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and a textbook for Dental Informatics. He has served and still serves as chief investigator of NIH-funded research projects that support the adherence to evidence-based dentistry principles.
Can you please tell us about a day in your life?
This is a typical weekday for me:
3am start of a typical day with 15 minutes meditating and a cup of coffee
4am zoom conference call with research partners in the US
5am zoom call with Advisory Board members of the Collaboration with Health IT
7am breakfast and get ready for work
8am walk to 1 Mons Road, Westmead from home.
Meetings until noon at Mons Road (if time, will eat some lunch while on the phone: nuts, raisins, etc.)
1pm public transport (train) from Westmead to Redfern for Camperdown meetings
5pm walk from Camperdown to Surry Hills
6pm attend dental student government meeting at Sydney Dental Hospital (next to Central Station)
7pm dinner with prospective donor
9pm public transport (train) to Westmead (and if I am lucky, picked up from Westmead train station by car by my daughter) or bus
10pm arrive home
10:30pm usually go to bed with a bit of reading before sleeping
How do you define digital health?
It changes every few years, so I would rather define it by stating its goal: the goal is to aspire to a future in which data and information transform and accelerate biomedical discovery, and improve health and healthcare. Through data, we will shift healthcare from its focus on diagnosis and treatment to prevention and early intervention—so a move from crisis management to health management.
What do you think will enable digital health projects and innovations to succeed?
Collaboration across many disciplines, far beyond health, for instance, we need to include the social sciences to reach out to our communities and help all people understand what value health data can have for them personally as well for society. In addition, we need to be able to show value for individual clinicians when they treat their patients. In other words, digital health projects need to make a difference on the clinic floor, not just by producing high-impact papers.
Have you come across any surprises or challenges along the way?
Each day! That keeps me going. Otherwise, it would be boring.
Do you have any interesting resources or helpful networks people should know about?
Connect with Heiko:
Follow Heiko’s presentations and blogs: https://linktr.ee/heikospallek
A very big thank you to Heiko for all of his time as this month’s feature member.