EHFG 2018 Hackathon

“I really felt the hackathon was incredibly well organised and enjoyable. We were surrounded by positive people looking after us and helping us the whole time and even before the results were known, the experience definitely made me want to take part in more of these kinds of hackathons in future.”

(J.H., Hackathon participant)

This year, the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) hosted its first hackathon, jointly organised with EIT Health and with the organisational support of PROIDEA. A hackathon nurtures competition built upon collaboration and aims for an acquisition of knowledge, which is expected to bring forward new ideas. The application call was open to anyone interested in developing innovative solutions for health-related problems. Continue reading

Commercial determinants of health and the global financial markets (P3)

Think bigger and think smarter!

Let´s make informed decisions and learn and change the market the healthier way! 

The final day in Gastein is coming to an end and we are at the Closing Plenary, where the focus is on the commercial determinants of health and the global financial markets.

In his opening speech, the EHFG President Clemens Martin Auer reminded us to think bigger, think smarter and be bold and bright, and with this good reminder we dived into the plenary. Martin McKee, the moderator, took over and gave us an insight into the plenary where the focus was on MONEY, investments, markets and of course health.

I have to use some of the space in this short blog to share the story of Dr. Bronwyn King (founder and CEO of Tobacco Free Portfolios) and her amazing journey. She started her talk by showing a short video about a Dutch patient who is suing a tobacco company for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, and then explained her personal story, that started only about 8 years ago when she found out that her pension fund was being invested in tobacco stocks, and as a radiation oncologist who was trying to save the lives of patients often suffering from lung cancer that was usually related to tobacco use, she could not believe it and had to take action. Now, to cut a long story short, she took on the tobacco industry: this has lead to stocks dropping as well as to many pension funds, banks and other commercial organisations divesting from tobacco stocks. It truly was amazing to hear from a person who is so personally involved and it really made you sympathise with her cause. I think it is important for all the Young Gasteiners like myself, as well as for other figures in public health, to see and hear that there are individuals out there making a difference. But this is only the start, there is more to do and we need to move forward.

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Long-term access to vaccination across Europe (L8)

The one with housemate Rich and vaccines

When I was given my working group for Young Gasteiners and saw ‘vaccines’ on our list of sessions to attend, I struggled to think of how I could link this to my interest area of mental health.  As far as I was aware they haven’t made a vaccine they could’ve given me when born, to stop me freaking out with professional anxiety yet have they?  I wasn’t sure, but I was willing to find out…

I start by taking a photo and sending it to an old house mate ‘Rich’ who is just finishing a PhD in vaccine use across the UK to make him jealous.  The room starts half empty, I put that down to fact it was last day of 3 intense days of networking, thinking, making ‘hmmm’ noises, nodding in agreement and … well late night networking, but it did start to fill up as the session went on.

Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat moderating says EU is responding to growing concerns, and people’s imagination running wild, with measles outbreaks STILL HAPPENING in our day and age.  I think of Rich and how this information would rile him mad, as he is a ‘pro-vaccine’ campaigner.

Kicking off An Baeyens from the European Commission gave us a refresh on what procurement is at an EU level.  In a nutshell, it appears to be something that ensures all services that public authorities’ commission, have to meet the EU rules.  They are there to ensure best value for money happens….NOT to force member states to privatise healthcare services, so we are told.  Maybe Rich could enlighten me on this when I get home.

Italy in 2017 created a Compulsory Vaccination Law!!  This is a brave and bold, and a hefty 500 euro fine for non-compliance after primary school age. Since it has started, there has been an obvious increase in vaccinations being had. Carlo Signorelli said that this is constantly o going in the political realm and looks to stay that way for some time to come. I think Rich would definitely be happy to see something similar to this in the UK…maybe.

Radu Ganescu, in a stunning suit, told us that in Romania, they’ve actually put forward a very similar framework, but this has spurred 2 years of debate to this day.   One off the big debates going on was the idea to suspend healthcare compensation to those families/children who haven’t had a vaccination.  Radu finish talking about Romania having the EU presidency next year, for which he simply stated:

“We should go together and push that everyone across Europe has access to vaccine.”

I think I’ll give Rich his details…

Purchasing & awarding are phrases I normally associate with me ‘purchasing’ a chocolate bar to ‘reward’ myself after my run, not in health care.  I say this but I am aware of health economics and financial procurement with Pharma companies, which we get quick tour de force about in relation to vaccine from Tim Wilsdon.

At the start of this session, due to Rich, I did have some baseline knowledge on this topic, but learning about Compulsory Vaccination and worryingly, the lack of access to vaccinations, due to money and other political spheres is still a thing, further peaked my interest in this topic.

Sadly they still haven’t created a vaccine that would’ve stopped me freaking out at my age (maybe Rich can make one??  He should know how to do that by now??), but what’s exciting, especially with the EU presidency being with Romania soon, is that vaccine’s will get a deserved spotlight soon, Rich will love it.

This blog was written by the Young Gasteiner Nicholas Morgan

The value of evidence in outcomes-based healthcare (L7)

A Young Gasteiner’s musings on the applications of big data in health

This blog post relates to the ‘The value of evidence in outcomes-based healthcare’ workshop held at the European Health Forum Gastein on the 5th October 2018.

This lunch workshop was organised by IMI Big Data for Better Outcomes (BD4BO), a European research programme that aims to support the transformation of healthcare systems by means of big data. The programme is a collaboration between the European Union, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, academia and civil society.

In his introduction to the BD4BO project, Shahid Hanif (Head of Health Data and Outcomes, Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries) described four key enablers required to unlock the potential of big data in improving health outcomes, access, safety and research:

  • Defining a standard set of outcomes with demonstrated value
  • Access to high-quality outcomes data
  • Using data to improve the value of healthcare delivery
  • Increasing patient engagement through the use of digital solutions

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Tackling uncertainties for rare diseases (L6)

Go fast or go far?

I am a medical doctor by trade. As all medical doctors will know, the first commandment of being a medical doctor is ‘first, do no harm’. But a very close second is the mantra that evidence is the holy grail, and the holy grail of evidence is the RCT. But what if an RCT is simply not possible, for example if the disease you are studying simply does not have enough patients to conduct one? That is where Real World Evidence (RWE) comes in. Real World Evidence refers to information collected outside of a clinical trial, for example from electronic medical records, and it can help address evidence gaps in the field of rare diseases.

There are about 7000 rare diseases, defined as diseases that affect fewer than 1 in 2000 people. People with rare diseases are often overlooked when it comes to SDG3. To quote Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand: “No country can claim to have achieved universal healthcare if it has not adequately and equitably met the needs of those with rare diseases.” The small number of patients in these diseases, sometimes as few as 50 or 60 worldwide, makes it very hard to generate evidence the traditional way. This leads to heart-breaking examples where drugs or technologies with possible major impact are developed, but access cannot be guaranteed due to the uncertainties surrounding them. We need to address these evidence gaps. Continue reading