Dr Melissa ‘Liss’ Brunner | Conference Chair | @LissBEE_CPSP
As researchers in the field of digital health – we all want to harness technology to support people’s health and wellbeing. This year’s theme focused on discussing how we can make technology truly work as a support tool for people in life and across health care systems. We wanted to explore the mismatch between real life and the potential of technology to support health and wellbeing. Our vision was to have diverse speakers who challenged us and sparked discussions that might help us all to harness technology in different ways for more inclusive healthcare and support.
Digital health solutions need to be driven by our communities and the people in them – so we felt it was super important to make sure there was space front and centre in Digital Health Week to hear some of those voices to share with us their diverse experiences and expertise. During the opening community panel session “The truth about technology and our health” we got to listen and learn about how some brilliantly awesome community leaders harness a variety of digital health technologies to enhance their health and wellbeing, and for the community around them.
The values of connectedness, community, and knowledge sharing were evident in the panel sessions, presentations, and interactions during the event, and I hope that we challenged everyone to think about digital health in our communities in new ways.
Some aspects of the conference that we are most proud of:
- Our opening panel session was led by community members and shared brilliant living expert insights into the realities of digital health in their lives and their communities (panel members Luke Briscoe, Carly Findlay OAM, Fiona Given, Caleb Rixon, and panel chair Professor Simon Darcy are featured HERE)
- The conference reflected our commitment to increasing accessibility – through our pay-it-forward scheme which funded 32 fee waiver registrations, incorporating a variety of digital platforms (Zoom, webinars, Zoom meetings, ePoster platforms, and Twitter), and the inclusion of spotlighted Auslan interpreters and live closed caption generation during panel sessions
- The conference also reflected our commitment to supporting our own mental health – through spreading the event content throughout the 3 days in order to incorporate lots of breaks to try and combat the effects of zoom fatigue and competing workload demands
- A comprehensive and thought-provoking program with a dedicated stream for research students, 29 ePosters, 3 panel sessionsexploring the realities of digital health, and several networking and social media events to promote ongoing discussion and foster new ideas and/or collaborations
- As a result of Digital Health Week 2022, 30% of survey respondents made a new research connection or identified people they would like to work with, and 80% had developed a better understanding of current digital health research initiatives
- Digital Health Week 2022 was recognised once again as a Signature Event of the University of Sydney, held in collaboration with the University of Melbourne – with welcoming messages and reflections on the growth in digital health research and its vital importance for future health care from Belinda Hutchinson AC, Professor Mark Scott AO, Professor Robyn Ward AM, and Professor Jane Gunn
- The hard-working team that made Digital Health Week possible in 2022 – we were all from different disciplines and work across 3 universities and industry, consisting of predominantly of research students and early career researchers
- Our hashtag for the event #DigitalHealthWeek22 has generated over 1.5 million impressions, with tweets sent from over 100 Twitter accounts
Our Digital Health Week 2022 Working Group thrived as a team who had a diverse skill mix where they developed “great working relationships [which] infused the programme with enthusiasm, collegiality and a supportive environment for speakers and participants”. They reflected on the event and felt that “it was a great opportunity to engage across universities, consumers and industry” and that they “loved the way everything felt very open to discussions, and I think discussions were genuinely had, which is challenging in a virtual environment”.
Special thanks need to go to: Dr Anna Janssen (Technology Lead), our Digital Health Week 2022 Working Group, and the University of Sydney Signature Events team led by Cristina Dietman.
Our attendees were also given the opportunity to let us know they key things that they took away from Digital Health Week 2022, with one attendee saying “Just the incredibly broad scope of work that takes place. I was positively overwhelmed with the research and clinical practice that leverages digital health”.
I’d like to close with some of the remarks I opened Digital Health Week 2022 with and invite you to join us for Digital Health Week 2023 as we work together to create and implement digital health technology that actually work in reality for our communities at a time when technology has been critical to maintain our connections.
Last year, the theme was ‘Pushing the boundaries of healthcare’ and we really started asking the hard questions about what if digital health doesn’t work? This year, we once again didn’t want to avoid the hard questions, so we asked for a reality check.
Last year, I commented that we knew digital health was not the only answer to healthcare needs. That Society was – and that we all needed to contribute as listeners, advocates, and to make existing systems work with one another in better or new ways. We are all a part of whatever the digital health possibilities of the future might be…