By Dr Melanie Keep
Academic Lead and Conference Chair, eHealth@Sydney 2020
These days, “interdisciplinary” has become a very fashionable word. It has, however, always been core to eHealth. How do health researchers design, create, implement and evaluate eHealth without collaborating with health services, or colleagues from design, engineering, or marketing? Not very well, I think.
We created eHealth@Sydney as a way for the exercise scientist creating an app for heart health to meet the social sciences student who interviewed patients on reasons for not using a patient portal app. We invited local health districts and Sydney Health Partners to have conversations with telehealth researchers, and those investigating the efficacy of data dashboards. At eHealth@Sydney 2020, we met as people using digital technologies to improve health and wellbeing across the board, not in our disciplinary silos. Our conference focused on Digital Connections: Using technology to bridge gaps in healthcare, and the values of connectedness, community, and knowledge sharing was evident in the presentations and interactions at the event, and online.
Some aspects of the conference I am most proud:
- Abstract sessions were chaired by female leaders in eHealth: Aisling Forrest, Prof Robyn Gallagher, Dr Leanne Hassett, Prof Natasha Nassar, Dr Charmaine Tam, Prof Leanne Togher, and Dr Audrey Wang;
- The conference reflected our commitment to the environment, reducing waste by communicating program and conference information via a mobile app, and using ePosters and digital displays instead of printing hard copies;
- A comprehensive, and thought-provoking program with a dedicated stream for research students, 33 ePosters, keynote and plenary talks from international thought leaders, and a panel of academics leading eHealth research at The University of Sydney;
- As a result of eHealth@Sydney 2020, 40% of survey respondents made a new research connection, and over half identified people they would like to work with;
- eHealth@Sydney 2020 was recognised as a Signature Event of the University of Sydney and is one of the first events of the combined Faculty of Medicine and Health, reflecting Professor Robyn Ward’s commitment to digital health research and education. We also welcomed Associate Professor Adam Dunn as the inaugural Head of the Discipline of Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health;
- #SydeHealth2020 trended on Twitter.
Special thanks to: Jac Wells (Event Lead), Dr Anna Janssen (Technology Lead), our Steering Committee, and the Signature Events team led by Kathleen Dalziel and our student ambassadors.
I’d like to close with some of the remarks I opened eHealth@Sydney with, and invite you to join us for eHealth@Sydney 2021 as we push the boundaries of health and technology even further.
To say that the start of this year has been hard for our country would be an understatement. Amidst fire, flood, and Covid-19, my work with technology felt so indulgent and superfluous. But technology enabled the Royal Fire Service to deliver timely, life- and home-saving information, and it allowed hundreds of thousands of crafters all over the world to knit, sew, and crochet items for injured animals. Studying eHealth means that one of us will ask the important questions in the face of the next disaster. It means providing care that transcends time and space, and understanding how social media, games, wearable devices, and mobile apps can improve health and wellbeing. When you put it like that, our work doesn’t seem so indulgent or first world – it seems critical.
Connect with Mel:
On Twitter: @DrMelKeep
Academic Profile: https://sydney.edu.au/medicine-health/schools/sydney-school-of-health-sciences/academic-staff/melanie-keep.html
Interested in Sponsorship or Exhibition opportunities for eHealth@Sydney 2021, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org