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DataThon reflections

MIE 2018 HL7 DataThon

Last week we flew to Gothenburg, Sweden for Medical Informatics Europe’s 2018 conference, hosted by the Swedish Society for Medical Informatics (SFMI) in collaboration with EFMI (European Federation for Medical Informatics). This year the conference was co-located with Vitalis and attracted more than 3500 attendees, making it the largest eHealth event in Scandinavia. It was a great event, with seminars, demonstrations, knowledge building, networking and important discussions on the future of healthcare.

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The DataThon kicked off with a tutorial focused on FHIR, conducted by Mr Ewout Kramer from Firely, to introduce and train attendees in using HL7 FHIR standards. This meant the next day, after sorting into groups, we could dive right in to playing around with the data and developing our digital health solutions. The teams all engaged in fruitful discussions and by the end of the day had developed some promising prototypes. The final session of the DataThon provided participants with the opportunity to showcase what they had learnt and created to a panel of experts, receive feedback and engage in a discussion about the use of FHIR, data and digital solutions in health. A vote was held using and first, second and third place prizes awarded as follows:

  1. ADR Sniffer - A web-based pharmacovigilance application for use in checking a patient’s chances of having an adverse drug reaction to their asthma medication, using the VigiAccess database
  2. A public health dashboard for asthma, showing the population distributions and patient statistics (e.g. medication and hospital admissions) for the available dataset, and demonstrating the potential of dashboards for population and individual-level monitoring of asthma and other conditions in the future
  3. Use of the Dany Boy patient example to explore FHIR resources and how they can be bundled and utilised in the International Patient Summary

The range of outcomes – from polished interfaces to learning and exploring the possibilities of FHIR – demonstrated the huge breadth of interests, knowledge and expertise in the room. All attendees commented on the usefulness of the event for learning more about FHIR, how to implement it and having the chance to play around with a testbed of data and the feedback from the panel was overwhelmingly positive, discussing future DataThon events in MIE and across healthcare. Having a store of data helped to save time usually spent at these events collecting and cleaning data, and the asthma topic helped to provide a focus from the outset. It was interesting to hear suggestions for other types of data that could be included, including more messy data to reflect real-life health systems, and how the data could be better shared with attendees prior to and following the event.

In the future, we would like to facilitate more DataThons using our synthetic data, building on everything we have learnt from this event and the feedback gained. They are great events that help everyone and anyone interested in using data to improve health to work together in a collaborative, productive and innovative way – evident in what the groups were able to produce in just one day!

By Allie Short