|Insert: ARMTELEMED-1 CONRGESS STATISTICS AT A GLANCE|
As we are summarizing the results of the First Armenian International Congress on Telemedicine and eHealth “ARMTELEMED: Road to the Future” we would like to share with you some of the statistics pertinent to the event, and to discuss the main outcomes and achievements thereof. To remind you, the Congress that took place on October 14-16 in Yerevan, Armenia, was co-hosted by Armenian Association of Telemedicine (AATM), Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University (RAU) and Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE), under the auspices of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia, and the two principal global NGOs in the field of telemedicine and eHealth: the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH) and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). As became absolutely clear from unanimous feedback by the faculty, participants and guests as early as on the days of the congress and immediately thereafter, the event met its objectives, proved an unequivocal success, and marked an historical milestone in development of Healthcare Information and Communication Technologies in Armenia and in the region.
The outstandingly rich Core Program of the Congress kicked off on the morning of October 14th with an impressive Opening Ceremony where the congress attendees were addressed by speakers logically representing virtually all stakeholders in the field of Telemedicine and eHealth: the Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Sergey Khachatryan, and the Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Healthcare, Professor Ara Babloyan – voicing, respectfully, executive and legislative regulators of the country’s Healthcare Domain, the Secretary-General of ITU Dr. Hamadoun Toure from the international Health ICT community, and the Organizing Committee co-chairs, AATM President Dr. Georgi Chaltikyan, President of RAU Professor Armen Darbinyan, and Executive Director of UITE Mr. Karen Vardanyan –representing the professional community, academia, and local ICT industry, correspondingly. The program went on with four Plenary Sessions, incorporating state-of-the-art presentations on virtually all current issues in Telemedicine and eHealth, delivered by distinguished Faculty from around the world (see below). The next day, October 15th began with the Sponsors’ Session run by our industry keynote speakers, went on through an extensive Presenters’ Session featuring eight scientific presentations from six countries, and culminated in an Expert Panel on eHealth with an opening keynote by Dr. Adriana Velazquez Berumen from the World Health Organization, a presentation on Armenian eHealth plan by Dr. Arthur Ghulyan from Government’s electronic administration agency EKENG, and a lively discussion on the best pathways to design, develop and implement an efficient eHealth program for the country.
Undoubtedly, the most important factor that contributed to the success of the meeting, was the ability of the organizers to assemble an unprecedentedly representative cohort of Keynote Speakers and Faculty, all of them – world-famous champions of Healthcare Information and Communication Technologies: Professor Michael Nerlich (President of ISfTeH, Germany); Professor S. Yunkap Kwankam (Executive Director of ISfTeH, Switzerland); Professor Maurice Mars (Founding President of the South African Telemedicine Association and Chair of the Education Working Group at ISfTeH, South Africa); Professor Ronald Merrell (Editor-in-Chief of “Telemedicine & e-Health”, USA); Mr. Frank Lievens (Secretary and Treasurer of the ISfTeH, Belgium); Dr. Richard Scott (Director of the Office of Global e-Health Research and Training Program at University of Calgary, Canada); Professor Klaus Kayser (Director of the Charité Institute of Pathology, Germany); Dr. Jacek Gajewski (ISOC Coordinator and Secretary of CEENet); Mr. Jonathan Linkous (CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, who addressed our audience via videoconferencing); prominent industry leaders Dr. Patrice Cristofini (Vice-President of Orange Healthcare, France Telecom), Mr. Steven Normandin (President of AMD Global Telemedicine, USA), Dr. Peter Killcommons (CEO of Medweb, USA), and Dr. Mikhail Natenzon (President of the “National Telemedicine Agency” of Russia), as well as local specialists such as Dr. Igor Mkrtumyan (President of ISOC-Armenia) and Dr. Arthur Ghulyan (CEO of EKENG). It is the invaluable input and enthusiasm of our distinguished Faculty in sharing best practices and experience in Telemedicine and eHealth that ultimately made the congress such an informative and motivating event.
The second key to success was important contribution by our Sponsors & Supporters – all those organizations, institutions and companies that provided support for organization and conduct of the event in the form of direct co-funding or provision of other important services. We were honored to have funding support for the meeting from the State Committee of Science of the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia; from the US Department of State through the United States Alumni Association of Armenia (USAAA); and from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) (which co-funded the Seminar on Telemedicine and eHealth). The privilege of being the Principal Sponsor of the Congress was requested by major telecom provider Orange Armenia (a subsidiary of FRANCE TELECOM); the Byblos Bank Armenia was the Partner Bank of the event. Among other Sponsors and Partners were: AMD Global Telemedicine (USA) – worldwide leader in telemedicine and eHealth devices and services; Medweb (USA) – prominent cloud teleradiology and telemedicine services provider; Karl Storz Endoskope (Germany) – the leading producer of high-tech medical and surgical devices; ISOC-AM – Internet Society, Armenian chapter; and LimbachLab Armenia – the local branch of a world-renowned medical lab from Germany, as well as Polycom (USA) – famous producer of videoconferencing equipment , firm Alpha – local distributor of Mitsubishi, Polycom and some other companies, and GNC-Alfa – leading local provider of fiber optic cable and network services. Our long-time partners at Apaga Technologies / OZONE Armenia did excellent job in providing live Internet broadcast of the plenary sessions and educational track. Two distinguished representatives of healthcare academia and providers, Yerevan State Medical University, and “Arabkir” Joint Medical Center were on the list of Congress Supporters among educational / scientific, and healthcare institutions, as were also some professional NGOs such as the Medical Chamber of Armenia, and the Armenian Association of Urology. We were pleased to have international Information Partners – the leading Health ICT news portals eHealthNews.EU, International Healthcare Technologies, and Wireless Health Strategies. Many thanks to all our supporters for their contribution!
With such constellation of global leaders in telemedicine and eHealth, and with such lineup of powerful supporters, it is not surprising that the event proved to be one of the most intense and memorable professional meetings in the recent years! The total number of all those who took part in the congress (see also the Insert above), and either visited the congress venue at Russian-Armenian State University in person, or joined us on-line, reached 287, including 19 speakers and faculty, 150 regular attendees, 22 sponsors, 20 organizers and 76 students; 53 out of those 287 (close to one fifth) were international participants from USA, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Qatar and other countries (20 countries overall). The Diagram above shows distribution of participants according to their field of practice (with “Other” including NGOs, foundations, media, pharmaceutical, and unclassified):
Such attendance and interest clearly show that even though Health ICT in Armenia is still in its infancy, there is significant potential for development, and most importantly, understanding of importance of ICT for healthcare by all involved stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, healthcare industry, IT and telecom industry, and academia, among others.
We would like to specifically mention the Seminar of the International School of Telemedicine and eHealth – the educational track of the congress, organized under the auspices of the ISfTeH and ATA, and co-funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Overall 75 congress participants also took part in the seminar, including 5 Faculty, 50 regular attendees (more than half – DAAD alumni from Armenia and Georgia) and 14 student attendees. The seminar lasted two days, and consisted of six comprehensive lectures (Units) covering virtually all aspects of telemedicine and eHealth at beginner’s level, as well as a hands-on session provided by the two industry leaders: AMD Global Telemedicine and Medweb. It was the first educational undertaking in the field of telemedicine and eHealth of such magnitude and scope to be conducted in the country, and as such draw considerable attention of the professional community. All seminar sessions have been recorded, and will soon be published on DVD. Moreover, since the seminar was designed as the inaugural session of a regular educational course on Healthcare ICT by an international faculty, the preliminary work on such course is already underway.
The major outcomes of the congress, in accordance with the goals and priorities set, can be summarized as follows:
- For the first time ever all Armenian Healthcare ICT enthusiasts were given an opportunity to attend such series of state-of-the-art lectures and presentations by renowned experts and telehealth pioneers coming from around the globe, sharing their significant experience in establishing telemedicine and eHealth programs, presenting both history and current state of developments in the field, giving insights into future prospects, reflecting on challenges and difficulties on the way of building such programs, and possible measures to overcome them.
- Those in the country who had been working in the field, were given an excellent chance to present their work to vast international community (via congress proceedings and media channels), to showcase their experience, production or services, to position and promote themselves as local champions of telemedicine and eHealth, and most importantly, to obtain professional feedback from world leaders in the field.
- Last but not least – the congress provided domestic and international Health ICT enthusiasts with many new networking and collaboration opportunities, which will undoubtedly be reflected in the near future in creation of new partnerships, development of joint programs, or simply establishment of mutually enriching and beneficial professional cooperation.
The three days of extensive work by our Invited Speakers and Faculty will also result in another, no less valuable output: a set of Expert Recommendations for Further Development of National Telemedicine and eHealth Programs in Armenia to be published soon, reflecting the Faculty’s understanding of the current state of the field and priorities in our country. Follow us closely not to miss that important white paper as it gets published.
Thus, the meeting provided an exceptional platform for bi-directional exchange of experience, networking and collaboration, which should become a regular scientific and educational event, to boost developments in the field of Information and Communication Technologies in Medicine and Healthcare.
To complete the picture it is probably worth mentioning that all the above was taking place in excellent academic facilities of the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University, and the congress organizers provided the participants with all necessary conditions not only to benefit from the valuable program, but also to network with peers and the Faculty in a lively, relaxing and pleasant atmosphere, be it in the congress lobby during the breaks, at the Welcome Reception, or during dynamic and memorable Gala Evening. Our international guests were even given opportunity to catch a glimpse of Armenia’s picturesque scenery and rich historic and cultural heritage through a professionally organized sightseeing tour.
We would like to encourage all regular attendees of ARMTELEMED-1 who might have not yet obtained their Congress Certificates, to contact the Congress Secretariat to arrange pickup, as only presence of a valid certificate entitles participants to claim their 15 European CME credits form the EACCME (European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education).
As more updated information, highlights, participant feedback, presentations, photo and video materials etc., will continuously be published to the congress web-site, which is also planned to become the web portal for all future meetings, check back regularly at http://congress.armtelemed.org, and do not miss also joining our mailing list, Facebook page and group, LinkedIn group, and subscribe to our tweets, to always stay up-to-date on this extraordinary educational, scientific, business and networking event!
We would also like to hear from all our participants and guests! Please share with us your thoughts and impressions regarding the organization and conduct of the congress, with special emphasis on what aspects you would like us to refine or develop further. Feel free to forward your opinion to us via any available means: by leaving your comments on the congress web-site and social media pages, via e-mail, or telephone. Your feedback is all too important for us, as it will help us improve our organizational skills and make future meetings even more memorable experience!
Once again, we appreciate your interest in ARMTELEMED-1, and look forward to seeing you at our next congress!
With kind regards,
Organizing Committee of ARMTELEMED-1