MEDICA Trade Fair 2021

On 17 November, 2021 Mariano Vasquez represented CompBioMed and PerMed CoE Centres of Excellence in an expert panel at the MEDICA Trade Fair’s Health IT Forum. Despite the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the leading medical sector conference covering innovations in outpatient and clinical care was able to offer a 2021 hybrid conference with in-person attendance in Düsseldorf alongside virtual attendance from anywhere in the world. The Biomedical Experts Panel was comprised of professionals from imaging, data mining, data  sharing, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Overall, they broadly discussed why IT solutions aren’t yet widely used in clinical settings and what the major barriers to wider adoption are.

In addition to the unanimously cited barrier of awareness, Mariano Vasquez explained how CompBioMed and PerMed Centres of Excellence are overcoming the specific difficulties in making clinicians aware of HPC’s potential in healthcare. “Work directly with doctors and let them take the reins of our research. When the clinicians are leading the way, they develop awareness of HPC and AI potential.” He continued by highlighting that, “in the CoEs we have resources to create a pipeline for using these tools,” Such as CompBioMed including computational biomedicine in curriculums for medical students.

Beyond awareness, all panel members indicated the further need for support from regulatory, legal, and clinical leadership stakeholders particularly in the case of the newest technologies like artificial intelligence. In the case of tools running off-site on HPC systems Mariano emphasized, “If you get the regulatory bodies saying the tools are ok, then the doctors and our customers like biomedical companies […]can start using the tools.”

Once an IT solution has awareness and hopefully broad stakeholder support, however, the next biggest challenge is training. In particular, Mariano highlighted how training for both clinicians and IT researchers is vital to building a common language for communication about IT solutions. “It’s like I have a hammer and the doctor has a nail and we need to link them. If the doctor’s never seen a hammer, he can’t know what to do with it even if the nail is in front of his nose.” When a researcher with perhaps a physics background shows something to a clinician, it is essential that the researcher understands the clinical problem, that both researcher and clinician can communicate about the solution in clinical terms, and that the clinician can provide feedback on the technology’s use.

In conclusion, all panel members made a call to unified action. As summarized by Mariano, “This is not science fiction, it is science […]This is something at hand now.” IT solutions exist but need support across stakeholder groups from researchers, to clinicians, through IT departments, and including leadership.

To the audience of health care professionals, Mariano encouraged, “Contact us. Don’t be shy!”

For more on the panel, log on and watch via the MEDICA On Demand Livestreams portal until 31 March, 2022.

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